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Murdaugh Murders: South Carolina Investigative Agency Fires ‘True Crime’ Podcast Host

SLED terminates employee touted by podcast as one of its “operatives …”

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An employee with the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) who touted herself as a “SLED operative” on a true crime podcast she co-hosts has been fired by the statewide law enforcement agency for “unbecoming conduct,” according to documents obtained by this news outlet.

Prior to her termination on Tuesday, Danielle Myers of Lexington, S.C., had been employed by SLED since August 2, 2016 as a grant employee – assisting with the agency’s sex offender registry.

Myers is the co-host of Carolina Crimes Podcast, which bills itself as “South Carolina’s No. 1 True Crime Podcast.” She co-hosts the show with her brother-in-law, high school football announcer Matt Hiers.

News of Myers’ termination comes just weeks after the podcast took out an advertisement touting her purported status with the agency – which conducts hundreds of criminal investigations across the Palmetto State each year.

Remember this podcast?

Regular readers will recall ‘Carolina Crimes’ made a huge splash earlier this month when it claimed to have uncovered exclusive information related to the ongoing ‘Murdaugh Murders’ mystery – an inquiry which SLED is leading.

The Murdaugh case – a graphic, unsolved double homicide involving members of one of the Palmetto State’s most prominent families – has attracted national and international attention. Audiences have been riveted by the story, and media outlets which have broken news related to the inquiry have seen huge spikes in traffic.

The only problem? The information the ‘Carolina Crimes’ podcast disseminated regarding this high-profile investigation was false – as confirmed by myself and news director Mandy Matney.

In fact, shortly after Matney published a report debunking the claim, SLED took the rare step of issuing a public statement on the matter – calling the podcast’s claims “unfounded” and having “no credibility.”

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In the aftermath of this rebuke, a post appeared on the podcast’s Facebook page “redacting” its original reporting – but this post (.png) was quickly removed.

On Friday morning, this news outlet received a tip from one of our readers inquiring as to Myers’ status as a SLED “operative” based on the claim made in the podcast advertisement. I promptly submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for information related to her employment at the agency.

In response to this request, the agency produced a letter sent to Myers by SLED chief Mark Keel on August 24, 2021 informing her that she had been “terminated effective immediately for violating SLED policy.”

“SLED has recently discovered that you disclosed your employment with (the agency) on a podcast that you co-host, and that you hold yourself out to the public as a ‘SLED operative’ on materials associated with the podcast,” Keel wrote in the letter, which was dated Tuesday, August 24, 2021. “There is no such position at SLED and your false assertion conveys inaccurate and misleading information to the public to SLED’s detriment.”

Keel’s letter to Myers further cited the false rumor disseminated by the ‘Carolina Crimes’ podcast earlier this month.

“Your podcast’s Facebook page also spread false information about an ongoing active SLED investigation to the point where SLED’s public information office had to issue a formal denial of this false information,” Keel wrote.

(Click to view)

SKM_C300i21082708520_Redacted

(Via: SLED)

“All SLED employees are held to a high standard, sworn and non-sworn, and everyone is expected to abide by the policies governing this agency,” Keel said in a statement accompanying the release of the letter.

While none of my SLED sources would discuss personnel details, several individuals close to the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ inquiry made it abundantly clear Myers was not in a position to have any knowledge of that investigation.

SLED spokesman Tommy Crosby confirmed as much.

“She was not involved in any active SLED investigation,” Crosby said in an email to this news outlet. “Our internal review determined she did not access any case related information.”

Based on the podcast’s botched attempt to break Murdaugh-related news earlier this month, I have no trouble accepting that assessment. In fact, as I noted in a post last month SLED has kept an extremely tight lid on this high-profile investigation – which seeks to determine who is responsible for the June 7, 2021 murders of 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh and her son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh.

Myers’ termination comes three weeks after the ‘Carolina Crimes’ podcast began touting an advertisement it is running in programs for high school football games around the state. That ad specifically referenced her as a “SLED operative.”

Here is a look at the advertisement …

(Click to view)

(Via: Carolina Crimes Podcast/ Facebook)

Again, as Keel noted in his letter to Myers, SLED does not have “operatives.” The agency has two types of employees – sworn law enforcement officers (i.e. agents with police credentials who carry badges and guns) and non-sworn employees who support the agency’s investigative and operational missions.

And as Keel noted, all of these employees must abide by the agency’s standards of conduct.

My take on all this?

While it gives me no pleasure to see anyone lose their job, Myers clearly exercised poor judgment in this instance – leaving SLED with no choice other than to terminate her employment.

Keel and his investigators have faced criticism in some circles for declining to release much information about their ongoing Murdaugh-related inquiries. Still, I continue to believe the agency’s aversion to disclosure – while frustrating – is necessary to preserve the operational integrity of its probe.

Accordingly, I have declined to criticize them.

“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 wrote last month.

I continue to believe that …

For the latest developments on the agency’s investigation into the ‘Murdaugh Murders’, click here.

For the latest developments in the ongoing investigation into a fatal 2019 boat crash involving the Murdaugh family, click here.

Also, stay tuned for a report from Matney in the coming days on the latest developments in a related murder investigation that has been previously linked to the Murdaugh family.

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UPDATE | According to a Facebook update, the ‘Carolina Crimes’ podcast is no more – with production being ceased “effective immediately.”

“We apologize to our fans and we have enjoyed getting to know you over the past few months,” Matt Hiers wrote in making the announcement, assuming full responsibility for the erroneous information presented on the podcast’s Facebook page.

UPDATE 2 | Matt Hiers has submitted a letter to the editor in response to our coverage.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Via: FITSNews)

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 Durham Bulls’ lid pictured above).

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