Am I Wrong to Feel so Sad?

Photo by Trace Hudson on

Alex Murdaugh.  I’m guessing everyone has heard that name by now.  The Murdaugh name came forth years ago, in fact, after ‘The Boat Crash”, during which Paul Murdaugh was supposedly driving The Boat.  It was a runabout, center console it looked like, nothing fancy, but still deadly in the hands of drunk kids, mildly or terribly.  Mallory Beach died in that crash, a lovely young woman with the whole world at her feet.  I was heartbroken for her and for her family.  And I felt terrible for the other kids too, the ones who lived and now must live with that tragedy a part of their psyche.  And I also reflected on how many times I should not have survived my own antics, and the universe wobbled a bit.  Why do some of us just get away while others go down in flames?  Are we able to sit in judgement solely because we didn’t get caught?  No.  We are not.  But then we do, we all do, and this makes me sad for us.

All of the teens had been consuming too much alcohol, it is said, with Paul and another young man on video at a bar doing shots just before heading toward home, intercepted by The Crash. I was a boat person once; that kind of behavior is completely illegal and dangerous…as it turned out to be.  There was a terrible crash into a bridge during which Mallory was thrown overboard, not to be found for days.  Others were taken to the hospital.  Immediately, we saw, a swarm of legal guys rallied around the emergency room (it’s on camera), one of whom was Paul’s father, Alex.  It seemed wrong that attorneys were talking to these kids, or attempting to engage them, without their parents being there; something just felt wrong about that.  And that was my introduction to the Murdaughs and that area of South Carolina.

Then there was the suspicious death of Stephen Smith, with the Murdaugh name woven into that story as well.  Stephen’s death wasn’t suspicious.  Someone knows exactly what happened to that young man.  Again, a beautiful young life with the world at his feet, snuffed out terribly.  He was left, dead, on that SC road and I think his killer(s) hoped he’d be hit by a vehicle on that dark, unlit road, conveniently blaming his death on the victim being in the middle of the road.  Thankfully that didn’t happen.  Someone saw him and called the police in time for him to be moved off the highway.  But something fishy happened with the coroner’s report or the medical examiner.  I can’t keep them straight.  But the news says, over and over, there was zero indication of a hit and run.  More likely he was hit by an object (baseball bat), held by a person leaning out of a speeding car.  You know that stupid game.  Seems like all young upstarts do it, usually targeting mailboxes.  Yeah, I think that’s what happened to Stephen.  And I listened to his mother and cried with her too, at the death of her boy, and at the surety that nothing would be done to find out the truth.  Man’s inhumanity to man.

Then there was the shooting on that lonely SC highway.  Someone shot at good old Alex Murdaugh.  He was driving a Mercedes SUV, the ones that have drive-flat tires?  And he stopped to change a tire.  Pa-lease.  Nobody driving a Mercedes gets out to change a tire.  I know.  I used to drive one.  You either call roadside assistance, or BETTER YET, drive those drive-flat tires to a shop for repair.  Then we find that Alex set the whole thing up to have himself wiped out so his oldest son could inherit 10 million dollars.  Well…what about his WIFE and his YOUNGEST SON?  What about THEIR 10 million dollars? See now I’m starting to smell something that kind of smells like a rat.  I’m sensing a family divide: Maggie and Paul on one side and then Alex and Buster on the other.

And let’s not forget about the drugs.  Oh my.  A twenty year addiction to opioids, if you can believe that.  Who was addicted?  Well Alex Murdaugh.  There’s that NAME again.  And listen, I can’t keep up with how many pills he took or bought, but apparently there were SO many that he had to steal to pay for them.  From whom, you might ask?  Well let’s take a look.  And by the way, I do not believe Alex’s addiction story.  I just do not.

He was a personal injury lawyer, apparently.  And he handled the big cases, along with some small ones.  He won multi-million lawsuit payouts and then, well, kept the money.  From a LOT of his clients.  From a young man on life support who later died, from a young woman whose mom and brother were killed in a terrible accident she survived.  She lived in poverty because Alex kept her payout, embarrassing her by having her ask for grocery money when by then, she was actually a multi-millionaire, not knowing it.  Then there was Alex’s housekeeper who ‘fell down the stairs’ at Alex’s house after which he jumped in and volunteered to sue himself.  Gloria died, leaving children behind, and Alex got a huge insurance payout.  He kept that money too.

Then he stole from his law firm.  Millions!  His law partners had to come out of pocket to pay his debts and make his clients whole.  Alex’s firm had a manager and an accountant, who were responsible for the firm’s numbers adding up.  He threw them right under the bus.  His paralegals were stunned, fooled by lies and sleight of hand.  These things hurt.  They hurt because this behavior is perpetrated by someone trusted and even loved.  Man’s inhumanity to man.  Inhumanity without the slightest hint of regret.

Now, the horrific murders:  Alex’ wife Maggie and son Paul were BRUTALLY murdered by gunshots, from both a rifle and a shotgun.  Maggie was shot 6 or 7 times, two of which entered her head.  Paul was shot twice, the last one blowing his brain out of his head, or what was left of it. The intent was murder.  No doubt about it.   Alex Murdaugh has been found guilty of this crime, folks.  The husband and father.  It might seem somewhat run of the mill these days; there are SO MANY murders by ‘loved ones’.  And Alex lied and lied about nearly every step of that investigation.  It seems he put a lot of thought into how to do this and get away with it, and seemed to be establishing alibis in the immediate aftermath.  But still, he was the husband and father.  How could this even be real?

This man fooled every single person he knew, lied to every single one.  Every one, meaning he was a special kind of liar, a very good one to say the least.  He seems to be a narcissist or psychopath, or maybe both.  Because of that I fully expected him to take the stand in his own defense.  He would have thought, and probably did, that he was the smartest person in the room.  He was wrong.  He didn’t fool anybody.  His jig was up.  And how many dead bodies are scattered around this man?  I count at least 6, including the boy on life support: Mallory, Stephen, Gloria, the young man on life support, Maggie, Paul.  There may be more.  Man’s inhumanity to man.

Now comes the part I can’t understand.  I saw him break down when he heard or spoke about Paul…not Maggie, just Paul.  Those tears seemed real, and I believe they were. But psychopaths don’t feel pain like normal people,  and when narcissists don’t need you anymore, you are worthless to them.  I get that.  That’s when it gets dangerous.  That’s when you become expendable.

And still, I feel terrible for Alex too.  I cannot shake the sadness I feel about this tragedy, the entirety of it, including Alex, which had to begin with one decision, one moment in time when he decided that rules didn’t apply to him.  We had the chance to meet Alex’s family during this trial and they seemed like really good people, part of a close knit family who loved one another…except for Alex, who was just fooling them all.

Then I think about Buster Murdaugh getting kicked out of law school for cheating and how hard his legal family were working to slide him back in…he did nothing to help himself, by the way.  And there’s Paul.  Paul had a nickname for when he was drunk.  His personality was so angry and aggressive, abusive, that they called him ‘Drunk Timmy’.  And after the Boat Crash, he was walking free, ostensibly awaiting trial.  He had been charged in that case.  So what kind of legacy was Alex leaving behind anyway?  And now, it looks like Buster might as well choose another course of study because the Murdaugh name has been x-ed out with red paint.  I don’t know how I feel about that yet.

See, this “rules don’t apply to me” mentality had to come from somewhere, and maybe Alex’s DNA was inherited.  Maybe his long-standing legal eagle family members were also criminals.  Well, we may find out.  That’s being looked into.  And it seems Stephen’s death is now being investigated.  So the Murdaugh name may still pop up again.

And I will be reminded how important choices are, how important it is to have consequences for our actions, to not be rescued from crime, even the small ones.  And I will still feel so incredibly sad about how we treat one another.  We are supposed to love our enemies, and maybe this sadness I feel has something to do with that.

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