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MurdaughsTrial

‘Murdaugh Murders’ Saga: Chilling Cell Phone Testimony

Killer “manipulated” phone after murders …

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Prosecutors and defense attorneys jockeyed for position – and narrative supremacy – as the second week of South Carolina’s ‘Trial of the Century’ hit its stride on Tuesday in Walterboro, S.C.

The main event of the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ crime and corruption saga – the double homicide trial of disbarred attorney/ accused killer Alex Murdaugh – saw chilling testimony Tuesday afternoon from lieutenant Britt Dove of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED).

A computer crimes specialist, Dove walked jurors through a timeline of the final moments of cell phone activity for Alex Murdaugh and his family members.

Murdaugh stands accused of killing his wife, 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh, and youngest son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh, on his family’s hunting property in Colleton County, South Carolina on June 7, 2021. He pleaded not guilty and is currently standing trial in Walterboro, S.C.

According to Dove’s analysis of phone data, Maggie Murdaugh placed an outgoing call to family housekeeper Barbara Mixon at 7:50 p.m. EST on June 7, 2021. That call was placed one hour before prosecutors say her husband gunned her down with five .300 blackout projectiles fired from an AR-15 rifle near the dog kennels on the hunting property, known locally as Moselle.

Maggie Murdaugh's call to Mixon lasted nearly three minutes. It was the last outgoing, last speaking call recorded on her phone. In other words, it was the last call she ever made ... and the last phone conversation she ever had.

Courtesy of our intrepid research director Jenn Wood, here is a timeline of the cell phone activity of Maggie Murdaugh on the evening of her murder ...

  • 8:17:15 p.m. Maggie’s phone was unplugged from a charging source.
  • 8:30:23 p.m. Maggie was running Poshmark on her phone.
  • 8:31:47 p.m. Group text message arrives from John Marvin Murdaugh inquiring about visiting his ailing father.
  • 8:49:20 p.m. Maggie’s phone display was on – meaning her phone lit up. A notification could cause this.
  • 8:49:26 p.m. An sms or text message was processing on Maggie’s phone.
  • 8:49:26 p.m. Maggie’s phone locks.
  • 8:49:26 p.m. Maggie’s phone unlocks.
  • 8:49:27 p.m. Text received at 8:31:47 p.m. is read.
  • 8:49:31 p.m. Maggie’s phone locked. The phone was not unlocked again until June 8, 2021 at 1:10:35 p.m.
  • 8:53:08 p.m. Maggie’s phone display is off.
  • 8:53:15 p.m. - 8:55:32 p.m. - Maggie’s phone recorded an estimated 59 steps (Dove previously testified that at this time someone appeared to be manipulating the phone).
  • 8:53:44 p.m. Maggie’s display comes on and there is an orientation change from landscape to portrait.
  • 8:54:40 p.m. Start time of orientation change to landscape.
  • 8:54:44 p.m. End time of orientation change from landscape.
  • 8:54:34 p.m. The camera starts on the phone. It is on and recording for one second. Dove states it appears the phone is being moved and the camera is being activated in the background to attempt to unlock it with biometric facial recognition. But after 8:49:31 p.m. the phone never unlocks again. There is no data that suggests what the camera was looking at during this time.
  • 8:55:32 p.m. End time for portrait orientation change. Dove states it appears the phone is being held in someone’s hand at that time.
  • 9:00:00 p.m. Activity sensor data on phone shows steps and distance traveled. A separate report shows more granular data on steps. The data would be a range between 9:00 to 10:00 p.m.
  • 9:04:23 p.m. An unanswered phone call from Alex Murdaugh’s phone to Maggie’s phone is documented.
  • 9:06:12 p.m. Start time of an orientation change from landscape to portrait.
  • 9:06:14 p.m. Another unanswered phone call from Alex Murdaugh's phone to Maggie’s phone is documented.
  • 9:06:20 p.m. End time for all orientation changes cease on Maggie’s phone.
  • 9:06:51 p.m. Another unanswered phone call from Alex Murdaugh's phone to Maggie’s phone is documented.
  • 9:07:00 p.m. Display on Maggie’s phone comes on and off.
  • 9:08:58 p.m. Incoming text message from Alex to Maggie, “Going to check on M. Be right back.” This text was never read. Dove calculates the time to be 2 minutes and 7 seconds between call from Alex and text from Alex.
  • 9:31:44 p.m. End time of display off. For 22 minutes nothing happens on Maggie’s phone. At this time, display comes on and off a number of times. Screen coming on and off doesn’t tell the investigators much.
  • 9:34:14 p.m. – An unread text message comes from Rogan Gibson, “Tell Paul to call me.”
  • 9:47:23 p.m. – Unread text message from Alex that reads, “Call me babe.”
  • Dove testifies that no one actively used that phone after that unread text message at 9:47:23 p.m. on June 7, 2021.

Maggie Murdaugh's phone was found on the roadside about a quarter mile from the crime scene the following afternoon. It was unlocked at that time by investigators with assistance from Alex Murdaugh's brother, John Marvin Murdaugh.

"Maggie Murdaugh testified from the grave," former S.C. attorney general Charlie Condon tweeted, crediting prosecutors for presenting "powerful cell phone evidence."

"Maggie is saying this is what happened," Condon told WCIV TV-4 (ABC - Charleston, S.C.). "(She is saying) what this defendant is saying is not true and listen to my testimony through this expert."

Croft will be on the stand when testimony resumes Wednesday morning ...

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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.

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2 comments

Anonymous February 1, 2023 at 9:32 am

I don’t see how the phone info incriminates Alex.

Reply
Christine Bacon Top fan February 2, 2023 at 7:32 am

The information from Paul’s phone is more damning. The snapchat, specifically.

Reply

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