An attorney representing a survivor of the 2019 boat crash that killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach in Beaufort County issued a statement about the S.C. Attorney General’s open investigation of the crash— and he mentioned missing evidence in the probe.
Joseph M. McCulloch — an attorney representing Connor Cook, who was badly injured in the boat crash on February 24, 2019 when Paul Murdaugh allegedly crashed a 17-foot center console fishing boat into a piling near the Archer’s Creek bridge, which is just north of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) at Parris Island — issued the statement on Tuesday evening.
“On behalf of Connor Cook and his family, we join many in the community as they mourn the multiple tragedies of the Murdaugh family,” the statement said. “Connor Cook was a passenger and victim in the boating accident that took Mallory Beach’s life and injured others. We are encouraged and hopeful that the Attorney General’s office and SLED will continue its review of the boat investigation conducted by local authorities and further explore the inexplicable disappearance of important evidence and other lapses by the initial investigating authorities.”
Connor Cook suffered a jaw injury in the crash. He was initially identified by law enforcement as one of two suspects possibly driving the boat that night — although none of the passengers said he was the driver, according to police reports and depositions. This was one of many red flags in the initial investigation.
According to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office report, a deputy documented that it was “unclear” who was driving the boat despite the fact that Anthony Cook told authorities Murdaugh was the driver and none of the other boaters said anything to contradict that.
Cook told officers Paul was so intoxicated while driving that night that he “begged” him to let him drive the boat and he refused, according to the report.
Specifically, law enforcement and prosecutorial sources familiar with the situation tell us investigators are actively probing obstruction of justice allegations in the aftermath of the crash — including allegations that could involve R. Alexander “Alex” Murdaugh and possibly other members of his powerful family.
Last week, Alex Murdaugh’s son — 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh — and Alex’s wife 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh were found shot to death.
For the latest on that investigation, click here …
At the time of his death, Paul Murdaugh was facing three felony boating under the influence (BUI) charges in connection with the 2019 crash that killed Beach.
News of potential obstruction of justice allegations tied to the boat crash probe broke shortly after the office of S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson declined to respond to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) from this news outlet for the case file. In refusing to release the file, Wilson’s office cited an “ongoing investigation.
Today, Mallory Beach’s family lawyer Mark Tinsley — the lead attorney in the civil case — issued a statement related to the ongoing investigation into the boat crash.
“The Beaches have every confidence and are hopeful that the attorney general’s office will continue to investigate and prosecute any improprieties related to any attempts by any member of law enforcement to influence the original criminal investigation related to the boat crash,” Tinsley said. “As such, they support the attorney general’s decision in how they determine to move forward.”
Sources told FITSNews last week that there is “credible evidence” that obstruction of justice occurred in the investigation.
Officials at the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), the lead investigating agency in the crash, have repeatedly said that confusion in determining who was driving delayed the investigation from the get-go. As a result, it took prosecutors almost two months to charge Paul with three felony boating under the influence (BUI) charges in connection with the fatal crash.
Last year, FITSNews obtained documents showing that two of the responding deputies on the night of the crash had ties to the Murdaugh family’s law firm. Adding to the speculation, the only Beaufort county sheriff’s deputy who identified Paul as the driver of the boat that crashed – Steven Domino – was later fired from his job for drug use.
“In the day following the crash, the investigation was not properly handled,” Tinsley told FITSNews.
According to our sources, all of the boat crash survivors — and Beach’s family members — voluntarily submitted to questioning and volunteered to provide their DNA as a part of the double homicide investigation. A source close to the family also told FITSNews that the Beaches have not been questioned again since providing their statements and DNA.
For more information on the civil case and obstruction of justice investigation click here….
FITSNews will continue to report on this story. Stay tuned.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR..
Mandy Matney is the news director at FITSNews. She’s an award-winning journalist from Kansas who has worked for newspapers in Missouri, Illinois, and South Carolina before making the switch to FITS. She currently lives on Hilton Head Island where she enjoys beach life. Mandy also hosts the Murdaugh Murders podcast. Want to contact Mandy? Send your story ideas, comments, suggestions and tips to [email protected].