South Carolina’s most notorious inmate recently found himself in hot water with prison officials for abusing his access to a state-issued tablet. As that news was breaking, though, a former dorm-mate of convicted killer Alex Murdaugh gave an interview claiming the disgraced attorney was the one really calling the shots at his undisclosed, maximum security home.
Murdaugh – imprisoned for life after a Colleton County jury found him guilty of murdering his wife and younger son six months ago – was cited by the S.C. Department of Corrections (SCDC) last Monday for violations tied to his participation in a Fox Nation documentary. One of his attorneys – Jim Griffin of Columbia, S.C. – is also facing scrutiny for leaking a recording of Murdaugh to Fox.
To hear Murdaugh’s former dorm-mate tell it, though, the internationally famous criminal is the one wielding the power behind the wire.
Cody Alcorn of WXIA TV-11 (NBC – Atlanta) secured the interview with this former SCDC inmate – who provided a sole-sourced, anonymous account that has yet to be verified independently. Still, based on Murdaugh’s history of entitlement – and lengthy evasion of accountability for his actions – the account of his alleged conduct behind bars seems eminently plausible. The account is also consistent with the rock star treatment Murdaugh received from other inmates during his brief stay at Kirkland Correctional Institution – an SCDC intake center located just north of Columbia, S.C.
Furthermore, some of the statements the former inmate made describe behavior Murdaugh engaged in during his previous periods of incarceration at the county level as he awaited trial.
According to Alcorn, the former inmate described in detail the secure unit in which Murdaugh has been residing since March 31, 2023 – after his transfer from Kirkland. The unit houses multiple at-risk convicts – famous inmates (like Murdaugh), former law enforcement officers, criminals convicted of crimes against children and inmates who helped prosecutors convict co-defendants.
According to the inmate, Murdaugh’s time behind bars has been anything but typical.
“This guy, man, you would not believe the way they treat this guy,” the former inmate told Alcorn.
VIP TABLET SERVICE …
The first indication Murdaugh’s time behind bars would be “atypical” allegedly occurred when he received his prison-issued tablet. SCDC began issuing tablets to inmates in 2020 in an effort to provide a them with an outlet to “learn, communicate, and channel their energy,” according to a press release by GTL Solutions – the company which provides the technology. Inmates have the option of listening to audiobooks or music, reading free eBooks, playing games and watching movies.
The tablets also provide ways for them to connect with family and friends – including making phone calls and sending email-like messages.
According to the former inmate, it typically takes approximately sixty days for inmates to receive their tablets once they receive their permanent prison placement. He further noted most tablets were not in good shape – recounting that his had a “cigarette burn” on it. But he claimed Murdaugh received a brand new tablet – still in its original packaging – on the first Monday he arrived on the block.
“Nobody else ever got that,” he said.
In a dubious follow-up claim, the former inmate said Murdaugh sent a message shortly after his arrival at the unit that was leaked – exposing their location. He alleged this location leak caused SCDC to take tablets away from all inmates in the unit for 21 days while they re-vamped the e-mail system.
Is that accurate, though? This news outlet has received responses to multiple Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests related to Murdaugh’s ingoing and outgoing communications. The only tablet-based messages of any kind he has sent during his entire six-month period of incarceration went to ‘Taylor L.,’ who appears to work in Griffin’s office.
Those messages were sent well after Murdaugh was placed within the unit, and none of them made any reference to his location within the SCDC system.
(Click to view)
CANTEEN BARTERING …
As he did during his time at the Alvin S. Glenn detention center in Richland County awaiting his double homicide trial, Murdaugh is once again allegedly utilizing his wealth to ensure VIP treatment within the cell block. His former dorm-mate told Alcorn no one would complain about the celebrity inmate because he used his money as leverage when it came to canteen items.
He said inmates are allowed to spend up to $150 a week on canteen items.
“Murdaugh would get his $150 every week,” the former inmate said. “And there’s a lot of guys in there that are indigent, and they work hard, clean cells or do laundry to just get a bag of coffee.”
He also claimed Murdaugh used his law background to help other inmates, bartering legal counsel for various considerations – including prison wine.
“He does legal work for the guy who makes the wine in the dorm,” he explained.
The ex-inmate told Alcorn all manner of contraband – including drugs – were being brought into the facility by drones (and by SCDC’s own employees). He claimed Murdaugh played a role in the contraband making its way into the prison – and was also using drugs with other inmates.
“He (Murdaugh) is the money behind some of the contraband that comes in,” he claimed.
Last month, twenty-four defendants entered guilty pleas in connection with the sprawling “Prison Empire” investigation, a massive probe of multi-faceted criminality originating behind SCDC walls.
Using contraband phones, “Prison Empire” defendants trafficked methamphetamines, cocaine, marijuana and other drugs. The investigation also spawned firearms, burglary and kidnapping charges. Some of those were tied to the abduction of an 18-year-old pregnant woman in Edgefield County, S.C. – a woman whose father owed a drug-related debt to one of the ringleaders of the operation.
This news outlet has reported on “Prison Empire” since the first arrests were announced nearly four years ago.
According to Alcorn, the former inmate said SCDC had gotten a lot more serious lately about stopping contraband from coming into the facilities – conducting an elevated number of cell checks around the time of his release.
Prison officials are fighting an uphill battle, though. According to our sources, among the most common links found on confiscated burner phones behind prison walls are applications for SCDC positions – indicating criminals behind bars are literally recruiting guards.
The former inmate who spoke with Alcorn described Murdaugh’s demeanor as someone “running for fraternity president” – claiming he never spoke about the murder of his wife and son or his six-week long trial.
“It was kind of like the guy on ‘Animal House’ you know, ‘Damn glad to meet you,'” he said. “He was just always overly happy. Nothing phased him.”
That account confirms reports we have received of Murdaugh adapting to life in prison like a “duck to water.”
“Big man on campus,” another source familiar with his status behind bars told this news outlet recently.
Once again, a sole-source anonymous account from a former inmate is all-but-impossible to verify independently. And prison officials referred us to prior FOIA responses indicating there were no outgoing messages from Murdaugh around the time the former inmate claimed he sent one exposing the location of the unit.
Count on this news outlet to keep our audience updated in the event any new information related to Murdaugh’s incarceration status is provided – including how the indefinite suspension of Murdaugh’s tablet and canteen privileges may affect his goodwill with fellow inmates.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Jenn Wood is FITSNews’ incomparable research director. She’s also the producer of the FITSFiles and Cheer Incorporated podcasts and leading expert on all things Murdaugh/ South Carolina justice. A former private investigator with a criminal justice degree, evildoers beware, Jenn Wood is far from your average journalist! A deep dive researcher with a passion for truth and a heart for victims, this mom of two is pretty much a superhero in FITSNews country. Did we mention she’s married to a rocket scientist? (Lucky guy!) Got a story idea or a tip for Jenn? Email her at [email protected].
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