Crime & Courts

Hearing Set In ‘Green Pond Massacre’

Butcher of Colleton County scheduled to appear in court this week as he tries to keep his jailhouse calls under wraps …

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When the grocery store butcher of Colleton County, South Carolina – who stands accused of slaughtering six people in the Green Pond Massacre earlier this year – appears in court this week, the hearing won’t be about the murder, weapons, arson or criminal sexual conduct charges he is facing. The singular issue to be decided is whether or not his jailhouse calls and written communications ought to be available to the media through public records requests.

The butcher, 34-year-old Ryan L. Manigo, is facing a total of 21 criminal charges related to a nightmarish series of events that transpired on July 2, 2023 when he allegedly entered a home at 779 Folly Creek Lane “under cover of darkness” – just before daybreak.

Family members were gathered at the home of 101-year-old Maggie Magwood to celebrate the holiday weekend. The lone surviving witness told authorities Manigo stabbed and killed five individuals – 49-year-old Jefferson Burnell, 73-year-old Amose Magwood, 7-year-old Shamiah Rutledge, 50-year-old Michelle Wright, and 11-year-old Sariyah Manigohis own daughter. Magwood – the family matriarch – died of smoke inhalation after Manigo allegedly set her home on fire and left her to die inside.

A seventh victim survived the horrific attack by playing dead. This brave 13-year-old girl escaped after sustaining serious injuries which required her to be airlifted to a nearby hospital. The true hero of this story, she aided law enforcement at the scene – providing responding deputies with Manigo’s name as well as a description of him and the vehicle in which he was traveling.

She also gave them a chilling first-hand account of what transpired within the home.

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In addition to charges of murder, attempted murder, arson, burglary, and using a deadly weapon in the commission of a violent crime, Manigo is also charged with kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct, criminal sexual conduct with a minor and incest.   

The allegations against Manigo are beyond disturbing – so reader discretion is advised. According to the arrest warrants (.pdf) obtained by this media outlet, after stabbing Burnell, Wright and Amose Magwood, Manigo “unlawfully seized and confined the juvenile and her juvenile cousin inside the residence, forcibly raping them both at knife point,” according to the warrants.

Next, he “set the house on fire and stabbed both juveniles multiple times, killing the juvenile cousin,” the warrants alleged.

As part of our ongoing investigation into this story, FITSNews requested audio recordings of Manigo’s jailhouse phone calls – a request which is on hold pending the judge’s decision.

Manigo’s attorney, Matthew Walker of the S.C. fourteenth circuit public defender’s office, filed a motion in August asking the court to limit the circumstances under which his client’s phone calls and written communications could be released to the media. The motion called for requesters to participate in a hearing with requests to be decided by the judge on a case-by-case basis. 

“The Defendant objects to the release of any of his recorded communications being held by the Colleton County Detention Center without a hearing where the Defense, an agent of the Colleton County Detention Center, and the requestor can be present so that the Court can determine whether the release of any communications through FOIA is appropriate,” the motion (pdf) noted. “Accordingly, the Defense objects to the release of any communications of the Defendant without a hearing.”  

But, Manigo isn’t in Colleton County.

(Click to View)

Ryan Lenard Manigo (Facebook)

Since August 11, 2023 – two days after the motion was filed – Manigo has been held in nearby Clarendon County. Yet, the motion before the court is very specific as to the handling of media requests by Colleton County.

The issue of jailhouse calls came to the forefront last year after multiple media outlets obtained Alex Murdaugh‘s calls from the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center. Murdaugh later filed a federal lawsuit against Richland County officials – whom he claimed violated his civil rights. Despite stated warnings on each call reminding him he was not entitled to an expectation of privacy, Murdaugh claimed the release of these recordings nonetheless violated his privacy and subjected him to ridicule.

The calls were later used in documentaries by Netflix and others, but it was their use in podcasts and other “electronic media” that was the focus of the lawsuit.

At the conclusion of his murder trial, Murdaugh was found guilty and moved to a state facility – making him ineligible to pursue the federal jailhouse call lawsuit against Richland County officials. A third party, Dr. Marie Assa’ad Faltas, stepped in as substitute plaintiff and appealed the case. Without Murdaugh as a defendant, though, the case has languished – failing to attract the attention of the public.

In her opening brief (.pdf) filed on October 2, 2023, Faltas said inmates have limited options for communicating with the outside world.

“Cell phones are contraband in jails; and SC short-term detention facilities do not issue tablets to their inmates or allow them to access email,” Faltas wrote. “The ‘choice’ is between monitored analogue phones or being isolated from the outside world. That is coercion, not consent.”

(Click to View)

Defense attorney Jim Griffin speaks while the jury is out of the courtroom during Alex Murdaugh’s trial for murder at the Colleton County Courthouse on Friday, February 17, 2023. Joshua Boucher/The State/Pool

Attorney-client communications are exempt from monitoring or disclosure. However, Colleton County accidentally released one call between Murdaugh and his attorney, Jim Griffin, in a batch of twenty-nine calls made during Murdaugh’s murder trial (most of them hangups) while Murdaugh was in the custody of the Colleton County Sheriff’s Department.

While the call was short and vague, Griffin posted on social media that he was “mad as hell” about it being released.

There’s no doubt that the phone calls released by Richland County provided insight into Murdaugh’s demeanor and pre-trial activities – as evidenced by their prevalence in pre-trial media coverage. Also, the release of the audio was done in accordance with the law.

As FITSNews previously reported, Manigo has a long violent criminal history – and one that has largely been ignored by prosecutors. While previous crimes could have kept Manigo incarcerated and in doing so made him unavailable to commit the crimes of July 2, 2023, overlooked infractions and lenient sentences put him out on the streets – where the butcher was ready and available to do much worse.

Does the butcher of Green Pond have the right to private communications from jail as he awaits trial? Is this a privilege that should be offered to him? Or does the release of personal phone calls somehow violate his rights?

A hearing has been scheduled in Colleton County on October 19, 2023 so a judge can decide the issue. FITSNews will be there to bring you the latest developments …

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Callie Lyons (provided)

Callie Lyons is a journalist, researcher and author. Her 2007 book ‘Stain-Resistant, Nonstick, Waterproof and Lethal’ was the first to cover forever chemicals and their impact on communities – a story later told in the movie ‘Dark Waters’. Her investigative work has been featured in media outlets, publications, and documentaries all over the world. Lyons also appears in ‘Citizen Sleuth’ – a 2023 documentary exploring the genre of true crime.

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1 comment

J Monday Top fan October 17, 2023 at 6:19 am

There needs to be consistency in how this is handled & enforced whether it’s Alex Murdaugh or this other heinous monster. Alex & his high powered attorneys & family have likely found a way around it (being monitored) by breaking even more laws.

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