When journalist Mandy Matney began investigating the life and crimes of Alex Murdaugh she knew it wasn’t going to be easy.
But, as she writes in “Blood On Their Hands – The Fall of the Murdaugh Dynasty and the System That Protected Them”(William Morrow), the experience also exposed a world where privilege and vested interests did their utmost to prevent her from getting to the truth.
“Powerful, white, male lawyers like Alex Murdaugh had built the system themselves so that they could get away with anything,” she notes. “And for decades – centuries, even – they had.”
But Murdaugh seems to be getting his due.
On March 3, the South Carolina attorney was sentenced to two life sentences, without the possibility of parole, for the murder of his wife, Maggie, and their 22-year-old son, Paul, in June 2021.
The case captured the public’s imagination and garnered global media coverage but “every hot take was a reminder of the inherent biases working in Alex Murdaugh’s favor: no one wanted to believe that a guy like him – a wealthy, white, privileged good old boy – could commit such a horrible crime,” writes Matney, who had a popular podcast on the case, “‘Murdaugh Murders Podcast.”
The murder trial wasn’t the end of the matter.
Recently, Murdaugh’s defense team filed a motion for a new trial, alleging jury tampering in the original trial.
At the end of this month, Murdaugh will also stand trial charged with a range of financial crimes ranging from money laundering to stealing over $8 million from his clients.
There are many other unanswered questions.
How did Murdaugh’s housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, come to die in a fall at his home?
And what happened to the multi-million dollar settlement her sons were meant to receive from Murdaugh?
What really happened to Stephen Smith, the 19-year-old Hampton student and friend of Murdaugh’s surviving son Buster, whose death in 2021 was first said to be a hit and run but later investigated as a homicide?
And exactly how serious were Murdaugh’s financial problems?
One interviewee, who Matney calls ‘Blair’, was very close to the Murdaughs, describing them “as if they were the Mafia. Like once you were inside the inner circle, it felt nearly impossible to get out even as you could see the chaos and lawlessness going on all around … A big part of the Murdaughs’ influence and reach was the ways in which they stayed above the law.”
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