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Sources: Becky Hill’s Missing Cell Phone Recovered

Samsung Galaxy device was factory reset …

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A missing cell phone sought by agents of the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) in their ongoing “investigation” of jury tampering allegations against Colleton County clerk of court Becky Hill has reportedly been located.

The phone – which we are told had been reset to its original factory settings – was discovered in a Colleton County government office. It has since been confirmed as the county-issued phone Hill used from January 23 through March 3, 2023 when her office presided over the double homicide trial of convicted killer Alex Murdaugh.

A fourth generation scion of one of the Palmetto State’s most influential legal dynasties, Murdaugh was found guilty on March 2, 2023 of the graphic murders of his wife, 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh, and younger son – 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh – on the family’s hunting property near Islandton, S.C. on the evening of June 7, 2021.

He was sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison on March 3, 2023.

The killings were part of an institutionally enabled maze of multifaceted criminality collectively referred to as the ‘Murdaugh Murders‘ crime and corruption saga. These crimes captured international audiences and turned Murdaugh’s double homicide trial in Walterboro, S.C. last year into the Palmetto State’s ‘Trial of the Century.’

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Murdaugh’s guilty verdicts on the murder charges were announced to a waiting world by Hill, who has since come under fire for allegedly tampering with the jury which found Murdaugh guilty. In fact, Hill has been accused by Murdaugh’s attorneys – led by Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin – of conspiring to rig the jury mid-trial.

SLED has been purportedly probing those allegations since September – even though Harpootlian specifically asked the agency to “stand down” over perceived conflicts of interest given its lead role in investigating the crimes Murdaugh was convicted of committing.

Harpootlian’s concern? That the agency – along with prosecutors in the office of attorney general Alan Wilson – would be more interested in protecting their hard-earned Murdaugh guilty verdicts than in uncovering the truth about Hill.

Those concerns increasingly appear to have been well-founded – as I discussed in detail on our latest Week in Review program.

Take a look …

(Click to View)

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Hill’s county-issued phone – a Samsung Galaxy S10E – was discovered on Tuesday (January 23, 2024) and immediately reported to SLED. As of late Saturday evening (January 27, 2024), however, SLED agents had yet to collect the device or make arrangements to retrieve it – despite having issued a search warrant for the phone more than three months ago.

Of interest? During this delay, the first court hearing related to the jury tampering allegations against Hill was held in the Richland County courthouse in downtown Columbia, S.C. on Friday. During this delay, Hill also appeared at a SLED annex in Walterboro, S.C. for extensive “prep” by state prosecutors ahead of her upcoming testimony at Murdaugh’s retrial hearing.

Did SLED agents not believe this phone was something they should have attempted to get their hands on ahead of that Friday hearing? Or ahead of Hill’s lengthy “prep” session with prosecutors? Or ahead of the big evidentiary hearing scheduled for Monday?

To recap: Back in November, our Andy Fancher exclusively reported that Hill’s son – former Colleton County information technology director Jeffrey “Colt” Hill – had been arrested on one count of wiretapping for having “willfully and feloniously intercept(ed) electronic phone communication.”

Hill allegedly tapped the phone of Colleton County deputy administrator Meagan Utsey – purportedly as “part of an effort to keep Becky Hill abreast of the investigations into her conduct.”

In his report on Jeffrey Hill’s arrest, Fancher noted Becky Hill was “forced to surrender her phone to SLED upon the issuance of a search warrant” in connection with the wiretapping investigation into her son.

Our media outlet further linked Becky Hill to the investigation into her son, noting that SLED investigators were “exploring obstruction of justice charges against both Becky Hill and Jeffrey Hill as it relates to the mushrooming wiretapping scandal.”

Those obstruction allegations have since come into much clearer view …

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RELATED | DESTROYED DEVICES, MISSING CELL PHONES RAISE RED FLAGS

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As we previously reported, the iPhone Becky Hill surrendered to SLED is not the phone she used during the trial. Nor is it a separate iPhone Hill has been reportedly been using since the allegations against her son were made public.

Sources familiar with the inquiry indicated Hill switched from a Samsung device to an iPhone in the days immediately after she was accused of tampering with the Murdaugh jury. However, Jeffrey Hill reportedly told county officials on August 30, 2023 his mother’s Samsung phone had already been turned into the county – even though Becky Hill was reportedly still using it on the day the jury tampering allegations were announced a week later.

Moreover, until last week no one knew where Becky Hill’s county-issued Samsung phone was … only that SLED ostensibly wanted to find it.

“They wanted the Samsung,” a source familiar with the inquiry told us. “The (search) warrant specifically requested the Samsung.”

Apparently they didn’t want it that badly …

We also previously reported that Becky Hill’s county-issued cell phone number was “released” from its taxpayer-funded Verizon account and added to her personal account in late July 2023. This, we were told, was part of an effort to evade accountability – specifically, to dodge a looming subpoena from the S.C. State Ethics Commission (SCSEC) for her cell phone records in connection with two related investigations.

(Click to View)

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Becky Hill reportedly told ethics investigators on multiple occasions she did not keep her county-issued Samsung phone after her son transferred the line from the county to her personal account in late July.

As previously noted, the iPhone Becky Hill provided to SLED investigators had been reset to its factory settings. Similarly, two phones provided by Jeffery Hill to SLED – one a personal Samsung and the other a county-issued Samsung – were both reportedly reset to factory settings.

Also, two other Samsungs belonging to Jeffrey Hill – a personal device and a county phone – were reportedly destroyed when he first learned SLED wanted to question him in connection with the wiretapping scandal.

Red flags everywhere, right?

As I noted earlier this month, “these evasive measures appear to have taken place at pivotal moments in the evolution of this story” – i.e. when ethics investigators asked Becky Hill for her cell phone records, when Becky Hill was publicly accused of jury tampering and when her son was contacted by SLED for an interview on the wiretapping allegations.

Coincidences?

Our media outlet is endeavoring to obtain additional information about exactly where Hill’s phone was found – and the timing and circumstances related to its discovery. Count on us to keep our audience in the loop regarding anything we uncover.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

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 and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and eight children.

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6 comments

SubZeroIQ January 28, 2024 at 4:15 am

Questions: Why can’t Becky Hill’s phone records be subpoenaed from the wireless service provider? Or were they?
Colleton County must have had (and must still have) some billing records on BOTH the county-issued Samsung AND the county landline.
Did anyone look into the landline calls?
Were the emails you, FITS, FOIA-ed and received sent from that Samsung or from a desktop or from a laptop or what?
Even if wireles call records were kept for only six months by the wireless service provider, six months back from the July 2023 ethics investigation would reach back to the travesty of the decade misnomed “the trial of the century.”
And six months back from even TODAY would reach back to all the calls from when the ethics investigation started.
What is news is this article?

Reply
Ralph Hightower Top fan January 28, 2024 at 11:01 pm

Factory reset? This ain’t looking good for Miss Becky.

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CongareeCatfish Top fan January 29, 2024 at 12:12 pm

Factory reset is such an amateur hour move, especially on an android platform. Practically every licensed P.I. in town has off-the-shelf software that can recover loads of original data after the rest has occurred. SLED’s tech capabilities extend much farther beyond that. If you really want to deep-six data off a device without destroying the device, use the tools that shady justice-evading criminals like Hillary Clinton used -like Bleachbit. Or do what almost every one of the 50+ members of the Trump – Mueller probe and the Jan. 6th Committee did when they completed their dog & pony show: overwrite the hard drives fully BEFORE the factory reset. Or use phones with a preloaded text & email encryption package like Proton, etc., as the Fedsurrection agents disguised as the laughable “Patriot Front” or high-ranking members of Antifa.

Reply
JustSomeGuy Top fan January 30, 2024 at 11:32 am

Right. I would do a factory reset before I turned over a phone, without even trying to hide anything. It’s really pretty basic and not suspicious at all. The timing of the phone exchanges may be suspicious, but resetting the phone really isn’t.

Reply
SubZeroIQ January 29, 2024 at 7:18 pm

Now Becky Hill will face no consequences but will spend the evening gloating and celebrating.
It is not as if Jean Toal was really at loss where to look for law after she found AS FACTS that Becky Hill is a non-credible state actor who made prejudicial and improper comments to at least one juror.
All Jean Toal had to do was to look at all the jurisprudence of suppression of improperly seized evidence and the societal purpose behind “when the constable fumbles, the criminal walks,” meaning even true evidence needs to be suppressed to DETER violations of the Fourth Amendment by law enforcement.
Indeed, none other than Jean Toal’s “friend,” John Williamson Kittredge, said it to students whom South Carolina’s Supreme Court itself tries to “enlighten” on the law and on civics: there is truth and there is fairness. And sometimes fairness requires suppression of true evidence.
BTW, Kittredge is the author of Green and wrote that clerks of court should train bailiffs to not make comments like that made by the bailiff in Green.
Too bad Kittredge never asked himself, who trains the clerks of court to not make inappropriate comments themselves?
As I expected, Jean Toal started with the result she wanted to reach and manipulated the law to reach it.
Neither Remmer nor Green ever said the trial judge needs to look at the weight of the evidence supporting the conviction.
Further, it is circular thinking: if the evidence was weighed by an admittely tainted jury, then the fact that said tainted jury held the weight of the evidence sufficient to support a conviction prevents the court from vacating the product of that tainted jury’s decision.
It is another version of Holmes v. South Carolina where a unanimous U.S. Supreme Cout reversed Jean Toal’s own decision that if the Prosecution presents a strong enought case of the defendant’s guilt, then the defendant does not get to present evidence of third-party guilt.
I pray Jean Toal reconsiders.
Stay strong Alex Murdaugh! God will not forget you.

Reply
SubZeroIQ January 30, 2024 at 4:28 pm

Of course, SLED would PRETEND that criminal charges against Becky Hill would be a waste of money. And a second autopsy for Stephen Smith was not?
The real waste of money is the state’s bringing the murder case against Alex Murdaugh (“AM”) in the first place.
AM is innocent OF THE MURDERS; the Prosecution knew it; that is why they asked Becky Hill to tamper with the jury to get a wrongful conviction and that is why they are now protecting Becky Hill no matter what wrongs she does.
Indeed, the judge’s own ruling is a sophistacated way of saying EXACTLY that: the system will forgive everything you do, however bad, so long as you help getting “the bad guy” framed.
After all, prosecutors have for decades, if not centuries, dropped or reduced charges against co-defendants who turn state’s evidence.
Sanctimonious Sandi Smith (“SSS”), Malicious Mandy Matney (“MMM”), and Becky Hill should be prosecuted for false police reports; but none will.
Wait and see.

Reply

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