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‘I Promise You’: What We Learned From Alex Murdaugh’s Jail House Calls With Buster

The jailhouse tapes reveal a lot about the Murdaugh family…

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by  MANDY MATNEY and LIZ FARRELL ||

This week, FITSNews and the Murdaugh Murders Podcast obtained recordings from nearly a dozen phone calls between Alex Murdaugh and his family members while he has been behind bars at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in Columbia, South Carolina. 

In January, we filed a Freedom of Information Act request for a number of calls that we knew Murdaugh had made from Richland County Detention Center.


Between his arrest last fall and Dec. 9, Alex made almost 100 phone calls — most of them to his son Buster, his brothers Randy and John Marvin, his sister Lynn and his sister-in-law Liz.

FITSNews will be publishing some of the full phone conversations later this week.

Four of the 11 phone calls we obtained were between Alex and his 25-year-old son, Buster Murdaugh.

These phone calls provide exclusive insight into the Murdaugh family dynamic and a closer look at their relationships.

Here is what we’ve learned from Alex’s phone calls with Buster.

Alex appears to be up to money-moving shenanigans with …. PMPED attorney Mark Ball

During a call with Buster Murdaugh on October 24, Alex references some sort of financial transaction involving PMPED/ Parker Law Group attorney Mark Ball, Buster Murdaugh, John Marvin, and Palmetto State Bank. 

“Please stay on John Marvin’s ass, to see about that stuff from Mark Ball in any of those other funds to put on that thing,” Alex told Buster in an October phone call. 

“It’s being taken care of in the morning,” Buster said. 

“So Mark is gonna do it?” Buster asked. 

“Yup, they’ll write the check in the morning. The check will be ready at 8:30. John is sending someone to pick it up and then simultaneously running it over to Palmetto State to apply it and I’m driving to Charleston in the morning to pick up the check,” Buster said. 

“And they’re going to apply that too?” Alex asked.

“Correct,” Buster said, adding that it would be done by lunch on October 25. 

“That makes me feel better,” Alex told Buster. “So it’ll be 350? How much has been put on it so far?” 

“Um Dad, I don’t have an exact figure, you know a couple 10s of 1000s,” Buster said. “Maybe, you know, just selling pieces of equipment.”

Keep in mind, this phone call was made weeks after PMPED sued Alex Murdaugh for misappropriating client funds.

If Alex stole millions from the law firm, like they allege, why would one of their own attorneys, Mark Ball —who was also involved in the jellyfish gambit — be involved in such a financial transaction with the Murdaugh family?

And why is Palmetto State Bank — the bank allegedly involved in multiple schemes with Alex Murdaugh — involved?

Buster and Alex have a disturbing conversation about law school

In the phone calls, it is evident that Alex is determined to get Buster back into law school.

According to multiple sources close to the situation,  Buster was asked to leave The University Of South Carolina School of Law after a cheating scandal in 2019.

During several phone calls, Alex asks Buster about his law school

“Did you hear back from the dean?” Alex asked Buster on November 30.

“And, if I don’t hear from him, I might get Butch to see if he can call him and say that I’ve been trying to get in touch with him,” Buster said.

According to our sources, Buster is referring to Butch Bowers here — a high-profile attorney who temporarily represented Donald Trump last year.

“Is Butch paid all the money he was owed?” Buster asked Alex.


Alex said yes.

“Up front and… it was up front… it was $30,000 up front, 30—,” Alex said.

“I know… on contingency if it was successful,” Buster replied. “I just don’t want to call him and he not have what you say he has or is supposed to have.”

“Naw, he knows he’s totally paid,” Alex replied.

“I mean, would he be willing to do something like that you think?” Buster asked.

“Absolutely,” Alex said.

Alex and Buster refer to Butch Bowers who has represented our state’s governors, including Henry McMaster. Senator Lindsey Graham recommended him to be a member of President Trump’s impeachment team. He is incredibly connected to the University of South Carolina.

 From the conversation, it seems like Alex has paid Butch Bowers $60,000 to do something in connection with Buster’s readmittance to law school, but it’s not clear what.

Alex encourages Buster to write an email to Dean William Hubbard, a former colleague of Bowers at the politically powerful Nelson Mullins Riley Scarborough law firm.

FITSNews is digging into this lead and will report back with updates.

Alex seems to be unaware of the damage caused by his alleged misdeeds. 

During an October phone call, Buster told Alex about a FITSNews article that showed a photo of Buster gambling with his uncle John Marvin in Las Vegas

“The next day, there was an article created about how I’m misusing funds by gambling,” Buster said. “Someone took a picture of me and John Marvin in the casino.” 

Alex appeared to be shocked.

Buster in Las Vegas

“You’re kidding me…what a f*ckinig…you, are you kidding me?” Alex said. 

“I guess that I mean I’m a national figure,” Buster said. 

Alex laughed a little and told Buster that he is going to have to “wear a hat and shit” when he goes in public.

Despite his lawyers saying Alex is “impecunious,” he alludes to having assets and encourages Buster to spend funds and borrow money from his uncle.

During a conversation on November 30, just days after he was indicted on 27 financial charges, Alex Murdaugh asked Buster about his financial situation.

“I told John to give you money until I get everything sorted out and can pay him back,” Alex said.

During the call, Buster told his father that he hasn’t needed any money and he’s fine. Alex continued to push him and asked if he was “uncomfortable” asking him for money.

“It’s just… it’s not very fair to him,” Buster said.

“I’ve got him keeping up with all of it, so I can pay him back,” Alex said. “You don’t worry about that. I mean, I’ve even asked him if he wanted me to do other things. Because there’s other options. And he’s absolutely. I mean, he’s absolutely set. I mean, I’ve talked to him at length about this. So he said he’s glad to do it. So don’t be bashful.”

In a phone call on January 4, Alex asked Buster again about his finances. Buster explained that he has plenty of money in his bank account.

“Do you want me to tell uncle John to give you several thousand dollars and then I’ll give it back?” Alex asked.

Again, Buster said no.

SLED was still in possession of a lot of the Murdaugh family’s stuff. 

Twice during the phone conversations, Buster brought up the fact that the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), was still in possession of the Murdaugh family’s belongings.

During a November 30 phone call, Buster told Alex about how John Marvin contacted a SLED agent multiple times to get his guns back.

“I’ve had John call David Owens every day to try to get my guns back,” Alex said. “And prior to Thanksgiving, David Owens said that we could have them back and then two days later he said that we couldn’t have them back…..John said that he used the language “out of an abundance of caution.”

Buster said that John Marvin asked if they’ve run the ballistics on the guns and he indicated they have. Buster seemed frustrated.

“I’m just trying to get some of my stuff back,” he said.

In another phone call, Alex suggested that Buster use his golf clubs.

“I think yours are still in the Mercedes, which is at SLED,” Alex said.

Buster seems hesitant in helping his father. 

In multiple phone calls, Alex asks for Buster to talk to people for him and Buster appears to hesitate.

During the November 30 phone call, Alex seems determined to get Buster to call “Blanca.”

According to sources, Blanca was Maggie’s housekeeper at the Edisto house where she was staying by herself before the murders. 

In another conversation, Alex asks Buster to talk to “Grandma and Papa T,” who are Maggie’s parents, according to sources.

Buster seems uncomfortable. Clearly whatever Alex wanted him to ask them about is something Buster doesn’t want to bring up in front of other family members

During another phone call, Alex asks Buster to ask his aunt Liz, John Marvin’s wife, to put money on another inmate’s account — which is against the jail rules, by the way.

“Outside looking in, it looks a little weird,” Buster said.

Alex explained that he made a deal with another inmate and he said that canteens are “commerce.”

“I understand, I just really hope you’re not doing anything that you shouldn’t be doing,” Buster said.

“Oh no, I promise you — that’s not the case,” Alex said.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR..

Mandy Matney is the news director at FITSNews. She’s an investigative 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 tips to [email protected].

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Via: Provided)

Liz Farrell is the new executive editor at FITSNews. She was named 2018’s top columnist in the state by South Carolina Press Association and is back after taking a nearly two-year break from corporate journalism to reclaim her soul. Email her at [email protected] or tweet her @ElizFarrell.

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