The biggest unanswered question of the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ crime and corruption saga continues to revolve around the one thing investigators, reporters and true crime junkies alike are taught to follow: The money.
“Where did all the money go?”
As of this writing, there are plenty of theories … but precious few paper trails to follow.
Yes, convicted killer Alex Murdaugh was living beyond his means. Yes, he put himself behind the eight ball after making some bad real estate investments fifteen years ago. And yes, it appeared as though the “velocity of cash” necessary to maintain his purportedly lavish lifestyle had moved past the point of sustainability.
According to prosecutors, the day of reckoning finally arrived for Murdaugh on June 7, 2021. That evening, so the theory goes, he bought himself more time by savagely killing his wife, 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh, and his younger son – 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh – at Moselle, the family’s Colleton County hunting property.
That theory of motive has frankly never made sense to me …
Murdaugh was making – and stealing – millions of dollars. Each year. And that was the money linked to legitimate income – and illegitimate thefts – we know about. Who knows what other pies he had his fingers in?
Or, perhaps the better question: Who knew what other figures (with fingers in other pies) had their hooks in him …
Murdaugh was certainly spending boatloads of cash – including significant amounts of money on his apparent addiction to oxycodone. But the mathematics of his profligacy and dependency were seemingly irreconcilable with the sums stolen – especially as it related to the drugs. Indeed, Murdaugh was widely (and rightfully) mocked for attempting to explain away all of the missing money as a consequence of his addiction. On the stand at his double homicide trial, the ruse was up as he tried unsuccessfully to convince jurors – and the court of public opinion – that he had singlehandedly consumed $50,000 worth of oxycodone a week.
Clearly, he hadn’t …
So again … where did the money go?
Court-appointed receivers for Murdaugh – John T. Lay, Peter McCoy and Amy L.B. Hill – spent months searching for his loot and couldn’t find it, ultimately surmising it had either been moved offshore over time or (literally) buried in one of the mythical PVC pipes rumored to populate the Moselle property.
Is there another explanation, though?
We know $2.4 million of Murdaugh’s money went through his alleged check casher/ drug dealer, Curtis “Eddie” Smith – a man with some interesting “downstream beneficiaries,” to use the term invoked by deputy attorney general Creighton Waters – the lead prosecutor for the statewide grand jury.
One of those alleged beneficiaries? Spencer Roberts, 35, of Walterboro, S.C. Roberts is scheduled to stand trial in Colleton County beginning on December 18, 2023. He is facing four charges: Insurance fraud, obtaining property by false pretenses, money laundering and a computer crime involving a value of more than $10,000.
Another alleged “downstream beneficiary” was Jerry K. Rivers, 40, of Walterboro, S.C. Rivers is scheduled to stand trial in Colleton County on August 28, 2023 on one count of obstruction of justice after allegedly committing “an act which prevents, obstructs, impedes, or hinders the administration of justice.”
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Rivers was accused of taking “an item of evidentiary value that had been seized pursuant to (a) search warrant” on August 10, 2022 and doing so “without permission or acknowledgement from law enforcement,” according to the indictment.
The item? A “cellular phone belonging to another individual who had been arrested.”
Waters told S.C circuit court judge Clifton Newman the cell phone in question belonged to Roberts – and was plugged into a wall outlet inside a gambling den near Walterboro. This gambling den was one of several Walterboro establishments raided on August 10, 2022 as authorities attempted to follow Murdaugh’s missing millions. At some point around the time of the raid – Rivers left the gambling den with Roberts’ phone on his person. Instructed to return the phone to authorities, Rivers instead got rid of it – and gave investigators a different device.
Several months ago, the website Gangster Report published an article about Rivers. Its authors referenced him as being “connected to the Walterboro Cowboys drug crew” – and specifically referenced his relation to Khiry “K-Blacka” Broughton, whom the article described as the “Cowboys’ boss.”
The article went on to claim that Rivers – whom prosecutors say received nearly $90,000 in checks originating from Murdaugh during the first five months of 2021 – was charged with “overseeing security at Murdaugh’s gambling den” on the Moselle property. That report has been downplayed by our law enforcement sources, but Rivers was clearly connected to such activity vis-à-vis his alleged role with the Cowboys.
According to a Colleton County incident report (.pdf), Rivers was arrested and charged with five counts of “unlawful games and betting” following a series of raids in and around Walterboro on August 10, 2022 led by agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED).
Those charges are not posted to the public index, however, and state prosecutors have yet to unseal any grand jury indictments related to them.
So … what was on Rivers’ phone?
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According to Gangster Report, the device sought by authorities on August 10, 2022 contained “communications with Murdaugh and Murdaugh associates.” Several of those communications are related to gambling activity, we are told.
Items seized during the August 10, 2022 raids included “evidence of illegal gambling,” but additional information about this “seized contraband” was not available from local authorities.
“This remains an active investigation by SLED,” the Colleton County incident report noted.
Just to be clear: As of this writing, there is nothing definitively linking Alex Murdaugh to any organized gambling operation – whether as a participant or as a host. And as noted previously, our law enforcement sources have downplayed rumors of gambling activity on Murdaugh’s part as they manage their ongoing criminal inquiries.
As this news outlet reported back in March, a statewide grand jury is continuing to investigate what remains of Murdaugh’s erstwhile empire – which obviously includes multiple investigatory threads just waiting to be pulled. Among those threads are the drug charges against Murdaugh and his co-conspirators – and allegations of institutional corruption in the Lowcountry. Underlying all of these cases, though, remains the multi-million dollar question: Where did the money go?
Could it have all disappeared in a gambling den?
That would certainly explain a lot …
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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