We know something brutally horrific, graphically violent and ultimately quite deadly transpired shortly before 9:00 p.m. EDT on the evening of June 7, 2021 at “Moselle,” the sprawling Colleton county hunting property owned by the powerful Murdaugh family of South Carolina. How do we know this? Because two members of this influential family – which has been an institution in the Palmetto Lowcountry for more than a century – were found murdered there later that night.
This news outlet broke the story of the “Murdaugh Murders” early on the morning of June 8, 2021 – and my news director Mandy Matney and I have been driving the coverage of this crime (and its attendant dramas) ever since.
Matney also recently launched a podcast dedicated to the case … which I would encourage all of my readers to check out if they haven’t already.
In the five weeks since these savage slayings – which claimed the lives of 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh and 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh – the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) has offered very little information to the public about what it believes may have transpired on this fateful night.
Basically, SLED has provided a timeline of the law enforcement response … and not much else.
No arrests have been made. No suspects identified. And nothing of substance has been released to the public regarding the direction or status of the ongoing inquiry, which has attracted international attention and sparked a flurry of interest from network television outlets and production companies eager to capitalize on the still-unfolding drama.
Not surprisingly, this dearth of intelligence has sparked a cacophony of conjecture – including a litany of allegations related to alleged meddling/ manipulation of the investigation by individuals and/ or entities beholden to this powerful legal dynasty.
Like nature, it would appear as though the news cycle abhors a vacuum.
Readers will recall three generations of Murdaughs occupied the S.C. fourteenth circuit solicitor’s office from 1920-2006. Two members of the family also work for the prominent regional law firm of Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick (PMPED), which wields considerable influence in the Lowcountry – and beyond.
Speculation regarding alleged investigatorial manipulation has been fueled by the ongoing failure of current solicitor (and Murdaugh family ally) Duffie Stone to recuse himself from this case. In fact, according to my sources Stone and his investigators have been actively attempting to influence the direction of the probe.
“Stone and his investigators even positioned themselves at the crime scene – repeatedly – a hugely controversial breach of prosecutorial ethics and etiquette,” I noted in one recent post.
More ominously, reports have been making the rounds about alleged crime scene manipulation involving local law enforcement officers – many of whom are said to be closely tied to the Murdaugh family. In fact, a Colleton county deputy who reportedly responded to the property in the aftermath of the slayings posted a curious message to his Facebook page the very next day. The deputy’s post solicited prayers for “a friend” – and quoted a passage of scripture related to Biblical vengeance.
Take a look …
(Click to view)
Interesting to say the least …
Determining exactly who arrived at the Moselle crime scene – and when – has been the focus of intense speculation as this double homicide inquiry continues to unfold. Once again, though, the flow of information has been limited. SLED has published several heavily redacted incident reports and supplemental filings from responding law enforcement officers, but the full dramatis personae of the crime scene remains a mystery.
From my perspective, the fundamental questions which must eventually be asked (and answered) are as follows …
First: In the immediate aftermath of the murders, did the perpetrator(s) – or anyone else with access to the property – do anything to manipulate the crime scene?
And second … upon being advised of the shootings and responding to the location in question, did anyone in law enforcement do anything to manipulate the crime scene?
And by “manipulate the crime scene,” I am referring to a wide range of possible actions including the destruction of evidence, concealing of evidence, alteration of evidence or any other attempt to hinder, misdirect, obstruct or pervert the course of justice in connection with the inquiry.
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So far, we do not know the answers to those questions. All we have is a very basic timeline of events …
c. 9:00 p.m. EDT – Paul Murdaugh and Maggie Murdaugh are murdered, presumably at Moselle. They sustained multiple wounds from different weapons – including at least one semi-automatic rifle and at least one shotgun.
10:07 p.m. EDT – R. Alexander “Alex” Murdaugh – a prominent local attorney who carries a badge with the fourteenth circuit solicitor’s office – calls 9-1-1 to report the murders of Maggie and Paul (his wife and son).
10:25 p.m. EDT – Colleton county deputies arrive on the scene at Moselle and upon finding the two bodies initiate a double homicide investigation.
10:28 p.m. EDT – Colleton county notifies SLED of the murders and requests its assistance in the investigation.
11:47 p.m. EDT – SLED agents arrive on the scene and begin their investigation.
Based on the limited information SLED has provided, we know that shell casings were found at the scene and that at least one vehicle was impounded. We also know the agency has sought surveillance footage from the property – and is forensically analyzing a cell phone found near the property that belonged to Maggie Murdaugh. Also, we know that the agency is poring through digital records tied to Alex Murdaugh, who discovered the bodies.
Other searches have been conducted at other locations, too …
Alex Murdaugh, readers will recall, was identified by sources close to the investigation very early on as a “person of interest” in connection with the inquiry. He and other members of his family are also reportedly at the heart of an ongoing statewide grand jury investigation probing allegations of obstruction of justice in connection with a 2019 criminal case involving his late son Paul Murdaugh – news of which was also exclusively reported on this site.
A recently reopened homicide investigation from 2015 reportedly has a Murdaugh family connection, as well …
I have spoken at length with multiple sources familiar with the status of this ongoing, high-profile double homicide investigation. These sources have told me in no uncertain terms that they do not believe there was any manipulation of the crime scene by anyone in law enforcement.
As for allegations of crime scene manipulation prior to law enforcement’s arrival, they could not say … but multiple sources close to the investigation have told me they believe the scene inherited by SLED on the night of the murders was unmolested.
Hopefully, they are correct in that assessment …
As I noted last month, I believe “SLED has been conducting a thorough, deliberate and unbiased inquiry into the Murdaugh murders” and that the agency’s reluctance to release information to the public has been necessary to “maintain the integrity of such a high-profile investigation.”
“I have faith that SLED will not only identify and apprehend those responsible for the Murdaugh murders but also potentially get to the bottom of a host of other unsolved mysteries linked to this family,” I concluded in that post.
That faith remains unshaken despite the flood of rumors related to the crime scene integrity of this ongoing probe …
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass player and a dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including the above-pictured Carolina Mudcats’ lid).
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