One of the most significant bits of information to emerge in the aftermath of the brutal ‘Murdaugh Murders‘ two months ago was the revelation that members of this prominent South Carolina family were the focus of an ongoing investigation into alleged obstruction of justice.
On June 11, 2021 – just four days after the savage double homicide in Colleton county claimed the lives of 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh and his mother, 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh – I exclusively reported that influential Lowcountry attorney R. Alexander “Alex” Murdaugh (Maggie’s husband and Paul’s father) had been identified as a focus of the 2019 boat crash obstruction investigation.
Alex Murdaugh is “one of several people who is currently being looked at in connection with the ongoing investigation into the February 2019 boat crash – specifically as it relates to actions that may have been taken in the aftermath of this fatal accident,” I reported.
Why would Alex Murdaugh and others seek to obstruct justice in this case, as has been alleged?
Because at the time of his murder, Paul Murdaugh was facing a trio of felony boating under the influence charges in connection with the crash.
Specifically, witnesses identified an inebriated Paul Murdaugh as the driver of the 17-foot center console fishing boat that slammed into a piling near the Archer’s Creek Bridge outside of Parris Island, S.C. in the early morning hours of February 24, 2019. In addition to being Paul’s father, Alex Murdaugh is also the owner of the boat.
Beach was flung into the water upon impact – and her body was discovered a week later more than five miles from the crash site.
Following my June 11 report, the existence of a grand jury investigation into these obstruction of justice allegations was publicly confirmed by multiple attorneys representing boat crash survivors – and covered by several mainstream media outlets. Also, news director Mandy Matney has published several follow-up reports (here and here) detailing some of the actions allegedly undertaken by Murdaugh and others in the aftermath of the crash.
Those reports paint a damning picture of what certainly looks like a coordinated effort to shift the onus for the crash away from Paul Murdaugh … and onto another passenger on the boat.
So … what is the current status of this obstruction inquiry?
According to my sources, the issuance of potential indictments in connection with this inquiry is unlikely to happen for several more weeks.
Wait … does this mean investigators and prosecutors feel there is insufficient evidence to make a case against Alex Murdaugh or any of his alleged co-conspirators?
No … in fact, I spoke to a prominent Columbia, S.C. attorney late Wednesday (one who is close to the Murdaugh family) who acknowledged there was “more than enough evidence” to support obstruction charges in this case.
Sources familiar with the inquiry confirmed on Thursday it was “active and ongoing.”
Apparently the delay is entirely logistical … stemming from the recent impaneling of a new statewide grand jury to hear evidence related to the boat crash case.
The previous grand jury’s term expired at the end of June, which necessitated a new grand jury to be sworn in last month. As a result, prosecutors must now start from scratch when it comes to making the case for criminal charges to be filed.
Sources familiar with the case told me investigators and prosecutors were already in the process of presenting evidence related to these charges to the new grand jurors, who began their work in earnest four weeks ago.
Officially, no one connected to the statewide grand jury is talking … but multiple sources familiar with the status of the inquiry confirmed the Murdaugh boat crash investigation was indeed “carried over” to the new grand jury term.
For those of you unfamiliar with the process, grand juries in the Palmetto State consist of twelve people who are selected (or impaneled) for a one-year term. Six additional grand jurors are chosen for two-year terms. These latter six grand jurors are called “carryover jurors,” because they are expected to carry over what they learned from one term to the next – creating some institutional knowledge of the proceedings.
In the case of a statewide grand jury, authorization to impanel is needed from a presiding judge, the chief of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and either the attorney general or his designate.
For more information on how the process works, click here.
The Murdaugh obstruction investigation is obviously one of the highest profile inquiries this panel will consider this year.
The Murdaughs are one of the most influential families in South Carolina – especially in the Palmetto Lowcountry. Two members of the family currently work as attorneys for a powerful regional law firm and three generations of Murdaughs served as solicitor (or district attorney) for a five-county region from 1920-2007.
As a result, the family wields tremendous power over police, prosecutors, politicians and judges across the state. This influence has already created prosecutorial problems in this case.
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. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including that Mike Schmidt-era Philadelphia Phillies’ lid pictured above).
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