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For over two years, the unraveling of the Murdaugh family dynasty in South Carolina's Lowcountry gripped the nation. Now local journalist Mandy Matney, creator of the #1 hit Murdaugh Murders Podcast, gives us a firsthand look into her investigation in her memoir, Blood on Their Hands: Murder, Corruption, and the Fall of the Murdaugh Dynasty, out November 14.
If you've listened to every podcast, watched every documentary, and read every article about the case, what this book offers that's different is the reporter's personal point of view as the case's baffling events unfold. As Matney digs for the truth, she takes us along on her journey from up-and-coming reporter at the Island Packet writing about shark sightings to independent investigative journalist and podcaster.
Years before the brutal murder of 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh and his mother Maggie put the case on the national radar in 2021, Matney was investigating the Murdaughs' power and influence in the small town of Hampton and their proximity to a series of deaths: 19-year-old Mallory Beach (killed in a 2019 boat crash for which Paul was eventually charged), a young nursing student named Stephen Smith (a still-unsolved case from 2015 that was reclassified as a homicide this year), and the 2018 trip-and-fall death of the family's longtime housekeeper Gloria Satterfield.
In the Satterfield case, Matney's coverage of the curious details of the wrongful death settlement unearthed the earliest signs of Alex Murdaugh's (Paul's father) tangled, expansive web of financial fraud and legal malpractice.
The book follows the case through Alex's trial for the murder of his son and wife. Beyond the true crime aspect, it's a compelling read for aspiring journalists, or anyone interested in the changing media landscape. She offers insight into how she finds and approaches sources, and how she builds trust when they are afraid to talk. Her writing is also a testament to dogged persistence, as it's often the daily check-ins with public information officers and routine database scans of local court filings that turn up her biggest leads. (Podcast listeners familiar with Matney's credo "stay pesky" won't be surprised.)
The memoir underscores the importance of local journalism in keeping our public systems accountable, while also drawing attention to the lack of support and resources for investigative reporting at the local level. And though some of Matney's detractors (she writes about them too) have scrutinized her for putting herself in the story, her narrative points the way for others who might want to challenge power structures and strike their own path in the pursuit of truth.
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