COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WSAV) — It is a murder mystery, financial crime thriller and family drama all in one.
By now we all know the player, Alex Murdaugh the alleged criminal. Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, the murdered family and Mallory Beach, the innocent victim.
Now the nation and the world will learn much more about this powerful local family’s history and how it all unraveled.
“Kings of the Lowcountry. Where the Murdaughs go … death seems to follow.”
That’s just one of the statements by the interview subjects in “Low Country: The Murdaugh Dynasty”, which was unveiled on HBO Max Thursday.
It is a three part documentary series on not just Alex Murdaugh, or the murders of Maggie, Paul, and others, but a look deeper into the history of the family. The power they accumulated, and how they allegedly used it.
“The minute we started digging into Hampton and seeing the inherited wealth inherited privilege it drew us in because it is not a story only of Hampton, SC,” explained Daniel Sivan one of the project’s two directors with his wife Mor Loushy. “It is a story of many small towns that have a prominent figure that can do whatever he wants.”
“Our contributors were extremely brave,” continued Sivan. “They took very big risks because until now the Murdaughs could allegedly wipe you off the map politically or financially if you speak against them.”
“I want people not to look at it as it is so sexy to look at this murderer, but question our system that creates this privilege,” said Sivan. “And privilege is dangerous and changing the system is going to be very painful.”
Lawyers, journalists, friends of the victims, Anthony cook Mallory Beach’s boyfriend, the family of the teens in Mallory Beach’s boat crash, and people from Hampton all took part in the two-and-a-half hours of programming.
Sivan said it was all riveting, but he was personally moved by the story of Stephen Smith, and his seven-year-old unsolved killing.
“You didn’t have a show about that when Stephen Smith was allegedly murdered six to seven years ago. That’s when people from all around the nation should have come to South Carolina to start investigating.”
The other thing he noticed was the media’s portrayal of Paul Murdaugh and how the people who knew him painted a different picture.
“Paul was completely demonized by the media. they made him into this crazy insane perpetrator,” said Sivan. “Yes he was drunk and if you follow the evidence you think he is completely at fault because of the boat crash. It didn’t seem like he was happy about it. He didn’t want to crash into a bridge and he didn’t want his friends to lose their life.”
“With Maggie and Paul’s Murdaugh’s murders,” WSAV asked Sivan. “You took painstaking time to make sure it wasn’t just an indictment of Alex himself but the possibility he did not do it.”
“Our job as documentary filmmakers is to bring the facts. We are not a jury, we are not judges of the situation. The audience needs to make up their minds but also the audience needs to understand that we don’t have yet all the facts at hand. and we can only ask very troubling questions.”
“A lot of what Alex says over the years does not compute, does not make sense of the years. But before we rush to judgment that is what we have the court system for,” Sivan said.
WSAV’s Andrew Davis spoke exclusively to Daniel Sivan, the director of HBO’s documentary on Alex Murdaugh. Watch the full interview above.
WSAV: “Do you believe Alex Murdaugh killed his wife and son?”
“I have absolutely no idea,” said Sivan. “As a human being, I want to believe he didn’t do this. I can’t imagine he killed his wife and son over money interests.”
“It seems like it was planned out and was not seemingly out of a moment of rage. As a father and human, I don’t want to believe someone could do that,” Sivan continued. “But I have no idea what happened. For the last year, we have been searching for answers not just for the show but to stop our brains from running around thinking about the possibilities.”
“If someone was cutting off the Murdaughs. If someone was targeting them. If there was this insane killer of killers why didn’t he tell his son Buster to get out of the state, get out of the town, someone is trying to kill us? I never saw that sense of urgency like we are under attack. Everyone is extremely calm. That didn’t compute in my brain. If they did such a hideous crime to the family why aren’t they more terrified.”
“Alex Murdaugh and his family were not operating alone,” Sivan said about the financial crimes. “It wasn’t a psycho killer in his basement that was the killer. It’s a system of corruption that’s been going around for years and years and decades. I believe there are many more cases and stories to come.”
“We felt it was important not to make it into a true crime that was a profile of a perpetrator,” said Sivan of his team from Campfire Studios. “You see so many of them out there. Dahmer for example. That showcases the perpetrator. For us, the real heroes are the victims and the people who have been suffering over the years.”
The three-part docuseries for which WSAV News 3 was a key contributor, is now available for streaming on HBO Max.