People fascinated with the long-running Alex Murdaugh double murder mystery saga got a hefty dose of something new on Friday night national network television.
For the first time, on a two-hour primetime NBC Dateline, agents with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division who investigated the crimes were interviewed about key moments in their investigation, including their frustrations and breakthroughs.
Up to now, although there have been numerous docuseries and news shows on the Murdaugh murders, agents have not spoken on the record to reporters about the case.
Even SLED Chief Mark Keel, notorious for his low profile and aversion to the media, allowed himself to be interviewed by NBC’s Craig Melvin for the show.
In an interview, Keel explained to Melvin why SLED — a statewide law enforcement agency — got involved in the Murdaugh murder investigation in the rural Colleton County in South Carolina’s Lowcountry from the first hours of the murders of Maggie Murdaugh, 52, and her son Paul, 22, on their remote country estate on June 7, 2021.
One of SLED’s major purposes is to help small local law enforcement agencies with limited resources conduct complex investigations, Keel explained.
“That’s what SLED does,” said Keel. “We’re still a rural state, and we still have a lot of small counties that do not have the ability to have all the technical expertise and manpower that they may need for some crimes.”
SLED, on the other hand, has nearly 800 agents, scientists and other professionals, as well as a new multi-million dollar crime lab to handle all kinds of investigations.
Dateline also aired some new footage of key SLED interviews with people involved in the investigation, such as Murdaugh’s brothers, Randy and John Marvin.
Agents interviewed on Dateline included David Owen, Ryan Kelly, Britt Dove and Peter Rudofski, who talked about key moments in the 13-month murder investigation, including the unlocking of the video on Paul’s cell phone that allowed authorities to finally indict Murdaugh for murder in July 2022.
People who watched the trial have already seen those agents on the witness stand, and heard much of what they had to say, but Friday’s program had them explaining to a reporter in conversational tones how they went about solving the case.
Friday’s show dealt mainly with the murder investigation and did not delve deeply into other complex dimensions of the Murdaugh saga, such as the 100-plus year Murdaugh legal and political Lowcountry dynasty or the 10-year series of multi-million dollar financial crimes Murdaugh committed.
Other people with roles in the Murdaugh investigation and trial who appeared on Dateline were prosecutor Creighton Waters, State Attorney General Alan Wilson, State Judge Clifton Newman and Allendale attorney Mark Tinsley.
Murdaugh, found guilty by a Colleton County jury of murder last March after a six-week trial, is now serving two consecutive life sentences in state prison for killing his wife and son.
The show closed with the Murdaugh’s longtime housekeeper, Blanca Simpson, visiting Maggie and Paul’s graves with the Murdaugh dog, Bubba.
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