New reports shed little new light on South Carolina killings
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — State police released a number of additional reports Monday on the shooting deaths of a mother and her son from a prominent South Carolina legal family, but they contained little new information and a number of passages blacked out.
Paul Murdaugh, 22, and his mother, Maggie, 52, were found dead near each other outside their Colleton County home on June 7. Both had been shot multiple times.
Colleton County deputies quickly asked the State Law Enforcement Division to take over the investigation and in the following two weeks, state police have said little about their progress. No arrests have been made. Agents have not said if they have any idea who might have killed the victims.
In a statement issued along with 18 pages of police reports — all but one page with something redacted and some pages with all the information blacked out — agency Chief Mark Keel said agents have been constantly working on the investigation and their diligence and silence is to make sure any case stands up in court and the killer or killers face justice.
“I urge the public to be patient and let the investigation take its course. This case is complex, and we will not rush this or any investigation,” Keel said.
So far, police have said that Alex Murdaugh found the bodies of his son and wife and called 911. The coroner's office said they were each shot multiple times and found near each other.
Alex Murdaugh's brothers told Good Morning America in an interview last week that he was visiting his father in the hospital and checking on his mother and found his wife and son shot when he returned home.
The family also said Paul Murdaugh received threats as he awaited trial on a charge of boating under the influence causing death in a February 2019 crash that killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach. The woman’s body was found seven days after the crash. They did not give specifics on the threat and said at the time they didn't think they were credible.
Whether local law enforcement agencies tried to obstruct the investigation into the boating death is also being reviewed by state officials.
Paul Murdaugh’s grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great grandfather were all longtime elected prosecutors in the area, but all were out of office at the time of the boat crash. The family said in the TV interview that none of their members tried to influence or stop the investigation.
The Post and Courier newspaper in Charleston sued state police over not releasing the reports and 911 calls. They said the agency was breaking state law. The 911 calls have not been released.
“It’s up to the judge to decide whether SLED and the sheriff’s office have been too heavy-handed in blacking out portions of the reports,” The Post and Courier's lawyer, Edward Fenno, told the newspaper. “We have requested a hearing on the subject as soon as possible.”
The parts of the supplemental police reports released Monday that weren't blacked out include a deputy asked to get a tent to put over evidence while crime scene technicians worked, another deputy who outlined where he put crime scene tape and other officers asking nearby homes and businesses if they have surveillance cameras pointing toward the road.
The only report that did not have something blacked out was an officer who said he put up crime tape and started a log of everyone who went into the scene.
Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP.