There are a ton of books coming out about the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ crime and corruption saga – a story which has dominated headlines in the Palmetto State for the better part of the past two years. In fact, included in today’s editions of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper was an article from reporter John Monk breaking down these various volumes.
According to Monk, eight books – “almost enough to make a bookshelf buckle and bend” – are in various stages of completion. These books will chronicle the spectacular collapse of the “House of Murdaugh,” a legal dynasty which imposed its will on the Palmetto Lowcountry for nearly a century. Three Murdaughs held the post of S.C. fourteenth circuit solicitor between 1920-2006 – wielding unrivaled power over the Lowcountry’s criminal and civil courts.
Meanwhile, convicted killer Alex Murdaugh was a prominent personal injury lawyer and badge-carrying assistant solicitor at the time he brutally murdered his wife – 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh – and younger son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh on his family’s hunting property on June 7, 2021, according to a Colleton County jury.
Murdaugh received a pair of life sentences for the murders. He is incarcerated at an undisclosed location with the S.C. Department of Corrections (SCDC) prison system as his attorneys prepare to begin work on his appeal.
Which books am I looking forward to reading? For starters, an as-yet-untitled book by Valerie Bauerlein of The Wall Street Journal, who has arguably the highest-profile deal tied to the Murdaugh saga. Bauerlein, readers will recall, was the journalist chosen to accompany the Murdaugh jury on its fateful visit to the crime scene during the double homicide trial. Her book – published by Ballantine/Penguin Random House – drops sometime next year.
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Swamp Kings is another title I’m excited to read given the potential interplay between the Murdaughs and drug smugglers from the Operation Jackpot era. Jason Ryan is the author of this book – and the author of Jackpot, a 2012 history of the famed War on Drugs campaign. Published by Simon & Schuster, his book drops next April.
Certainly, no Murdaugh book list could be complete without considering the hometown perspective – as penned by reporter Michael DeWitt of the Hampton County Guardian. DeWitt’s book – Fall of the House of Murdaugh drops this November and is published by Evening Post Books.
Reporters James Lasdun and Arthur Cerf are also preparing Murdaugh-related books which I’ll be interesting in reading – especially having spoken with both authors for prior stories. There is no current timetable for Lasdun’s book to be released, while Cerf’s book is scheduled to land on shelves next fall.
While we await the release of all these takes on the saga, there is one volume we won’t have to wait for. Colleton County clerk of court Becky Hill – whose office earned universal acclaim for its handling of the Murdaugh circus – is publishing her book, Behind The Doors Of Justice, on August 1, 2023.
Hill – who had the eyes of the nation on her as she read the Murdaugh verdict on the evening of March 2, 2023 – spoke with us this week about her self-published offering, which she coauthored with Neil Gordon of Augusta, Georgia.
Behind The Doors Of Justice is a quick, breezy read that really shines when it dives into Hill’s insights into the Murdaugh jury – which she described as the “most prayerful jury” she had ever witnessed.
“Every day they prayed together before going into the courtroom,” she wrote. “They prayed for justice to be served, for themselves to be unbiased while being presented with all the evidence, and for the judge, witnesses, attorneys, and those involved in the case. They also specifically prayed over the evidence and prayed heavily before they deliberated over Murdaugh’s fate. They listened the whole time and took their role very seriously. They told me they tried to give him the benefit of the doubt.”
According to Hill, a key moment in the trial was the jury’s aforementioned field trip to the Moselle property the day before the verdicts were handed down.
“Each juror was quietly lost in thought, working out in their minds everything they had heard the past six weeks inside the courtroom,” she wrote. “They were there to experience Moselle — to see it, feel it, touch it, smell it — and come to their own conclusions of what happened.”
According to Hill, it didn’t take long for them to reach the conclusion Alex Murdaugh murdered his wife and son.
“The decision to visit Moselle by Murdaugh’s defense team did not work in their favor,” Hill wrote. “During our time at Moselle, Alex’s fate was sealed.”
Stay tuned for future one-on-one conversations with the authors of Murdaugh-themed books as they are published. And to get a copy of Hill’s book for yourself, click here.
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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