Murdaugh Cases Exposes Our Desire To Allow Rich People Do Whatever They Want

I was a Johnny-Come-Lately to the Alex Murdaugh trial. I followed bits and pieces of it but have followed up in the last week. It was surprising I had gone to school at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Ga., less than 100 miles away from Hampton, S.C. that I never heard of the Murdaugh family.

But I knew the Murdaugh Family. Just about everyone who lived anywhere in America has seen a family like the Murdaughs. They own a lot of land and sometimes hold a lot of political offices, or clout. It’s the “Big Fish in Small Pond” family. Outside a geographic area, they’re nobodies. But in their own tight-knit community, they’re royalty. And sometimes, they’re invincible.

But why?

Why do we let one group of people get away with so much? Watching Low Country: The Murdaugh Dynasty on HBO Max, the older Murdaughs used their power and clout to get rid of people, sometimes by killing them, interviewees say. This is part of the good ole boy system of the old South. It makes you wonder why some people would put aside their moral and ethics just to fix problems for people who had more wealth and prestige.

Easy. What’s the answer to most of the questions asked? Money.

Ironically, the Murdaughs’ money would be their undoing. That’s because dynasties and empires fall from within. Alex Murdaugh was convicted of the June 7, 2021 fatal shooting of his wife, Maggie, and his youngest son, Paul. Alex was convicted in the same courthouse he as a lawyer would appear and the same courtroom that held his portraits of his father and grandfather who had worked as prosecutors.

But the jury’s verdict is a sure sign that the people of the area had had enough of the Murdaughs. How it got this way was Alex had been allegedly been ripping off his clients by not giving them money they were due in setllement cases. One of the cases including the family of Gloria Satterfield, who had been the Murdaugh’s housekeeper, cook and even nanny. She reportedly died from injuries sustained falling down some stairs but there is some question as if Paul, who seems agitated on the 911 call, had something to do with it. They say afterwards she had tripped over the dog even though it wasn’t in the 911 call.

Alex approached Satterfield’s sons and suggested that they sue him for the insurance money since it happened at his property. He would give them the insurance payout to help them. But the family never got one cent of the reported $4.3 million settlement. And Alex was eventually disbarred by South Carolina. He had allegedly been using the money from the settlements because he was addicted to opiates. But it didn’t stop there.

On Feb. 24, 2019, Mallory Beach died following a boating accident in which Paul, who was heavily intoxicated, had been operating the boat when it struck the pillars of Archer Creek Bridge in Beaufort, S.C. Paul had claimed that a friend, Connor Cook, had been driving the boat when it struck the bridge but Anthony Cook, who was dating Beach, said only Paul was operating. Paul is shown on body cam footage throwing his family’s name around. He wasn’t give a sobriety test either at the scene, despite his blood alcohol content being .24. Connor was the only one who was given a sobriety test.

Paul who was underage used his brother’s driver’s license to obtain the alcohol. Other people who associated with Paul said he would often get drunk and become belligerent. At the hospital, the Murdaughs tried to make it seem Connor was operating the boat and didn’t want any other teens in the boat to talk to authorities. Even though he was charged with felony counts including boating under the influence causing deaths, Paul was never arrested or detained as his mugshot was taking as he was in the hallway outside the courthouse. He was released on bond.

Beach’s mother, Renee, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Murdaughs and proprietors of the store where Paul purchased the alcohol. Earlier this year, the judge approved the settlement, but the case was just another blemish the Murdaughs didn’t need as Alex’s alleged misappropriations of money was hearing toward a hearing into his financial problems. The prosecution in Alex’s murder trial said the killings of Paul and Maggie were to delay the hearings as long as possible.

It’s always about the money. Eventually, it was going to come out how Alex had been ripping people off, allegedly. But still, there were too many cases in which his clients got very little or nothing at all. Alex targeted the lower-income people who didn’t have the abilities to fight it. If anything this should be a wake-up call to the rest of the world that money, wealth and power only exists because we allow it to exist.

Maybe it’s because people in the area got fed up with the Murdaughs that we see a changing. In a community where everyone seems to know everyone, the accusations of stealing money from lower-income people who needed it more as well as being charged in an accident that caused the death of a young woman doesn’t sit well with a lot of people regardless of what your name is. I’m not saying that Paul deserved to be shot by his own father, but I’m almost certain many tears were NOT shed and people read the obituaries and news stories with a little bit of relief. From what people have said in the news stories and documentaries I’ve seen, Maaggie let Paul run wild.

To say it’s Shakespearen that they would be killed at the same hands of the one they thought loved them may sound cliche but that’s what happened. And I think that’s why Alex took the stand in his own defense. He considered an insult that he was even charged. The problem this time is they didn’t have anyone to blame it on. His father and grandfather couldn’t get him out of this.

You can argue affluenza all you want. But I know what I saw from the footage of testimony. I saw someone that was used to getting their own way that he thought they would believe his innocence. But there was cell phone footage of him in the kennels next to Maggie and Paul and he was foolish enough to keep his cell phone on his person that it recorded his steps.

So one dynasty has fallen. Now, the people of the South Carolina area have to rebuild. There still will be people who are loyal even though there’s no reason to be loyal. In life, you only have a very small percentage of people that want to be associated with you just because they like you. If you can’t help someone financially, professionally or socially, then some people don’t need to see a reason to associate with anyone.

That’s why they stay in churches or church organizations, civic/community groups or just continue to go to sporting events from their alma matter. They have to be seen. They have to be seen with someone. The sadness is the people who are of the high prestige or affluence won’t even give their scraps to those they feel who are below them. I’ve lived in communities like this. Like I said they exist everywhere.

I was raised in a community where a young woman was drugged and sexually assaulted at an after-prom party and the media tried to make it out that the problem was the school had a prom at all. Or that there was underage drinking. They even questioned whether it was consentual and if they were even at the after-party which was two counties over. The case occurred in the May of 2014 and it hasn’t even gotten past the early preliminary stages.

But why did people stand behind the defendants to begin with? They were student athletes? So what? They exist at every school in every town in America. Most of them don’t have much of a career after high school. If they do play at college, it’s usually as walk-ons. Very few are awarded scholarships. And those that do play at college, only a few of them ever get picked for the drafts. So people want to be associated with a student athlete who may four or five years down the road make it professional but the life of a professional athlete in the majors is slim.

Yet people still do it. And they will continue to do it. The belief that one day they will win the lottery or they will have a rich relative they didn’t know die is what makes people feel that they have to associate with those of wealth or affluent lifestyles. But really, all you are is just a puppet for them. You hear stories about how Donald Trump, who’s supposed to be rich, couldn’t even pay for a McDonald’s order and asked his helpers to spot him. And he never paid them back.

It’s like the line from A Bug’s Life where the main villain Hopper says that the ants outnumber the grasshoppers. They have to keep the ants in line to keep the ants from standing up to them. And now, that’s what Jesus meant by the meek shall inherit. Its about how there’s more people who don’t hoarde wealth who should band together and stand up to the rich and wealthy. And they’re only rich and wealthy because we use money as an exchange for goods and services.

It’s no surprise that when you are charged with a crime, they say The People vs. (Insert Defendant’s Name Here). The People stood up to Alex Murdaugh and the Murdaugh dynasty and they proved that wealth and power are abstract. The people of southwestern South Carolina gave the Murdaughs the power. And now they’ve taken it away.

Let’s not stop with that.

What do you think? Please comment.

Published by bobbyzane420

I'm an award winning journalist and photographer who covered dozens of homicides and even interviewed President Jimmy Carter on multiple occasions. A back injury in 2011 and other family medical emergencies sidelined my journalism career. But now, I'm doing my own thing, focusing on movies (one of my favorite topics), current events and politics (another favorite topic) and just anything I feel needs to be posted. Thank you for reading.

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