One of my guilty pleasures is true crime stories. One case I’ve been following for months now is the story of Alex Murdaugh and the string of deaths associated with him, including the murders of his wife and son. It’s a story that would be unbelievable even in a fictitious John Grisham novel. This former South Carolina attorney had a history of evading accountability, using power and position to manipulate the law to his favour. Last week after a six week trial the jury found him guilty as charged. His surviving son and siblings appear to support his unwavering claims of innocence in this matter but the presiding judge and public opinion indicate the prosecution succeeded in making their case.
After stumbling across Mandy Matney’s podcast about the Murdaugh Murders during a road trip last year I have been riveted by her determined investigative journalism revealing a tangled web of lies and deception. Without her fearless pursuit of the truth, the suspicious string of disasters in the Murdaugh’s wake may have continued unchecked by enabling law agents clearly enmeshed with this powerful family. It took a tidal wave of public pressure and media attention to upend the once secure seat of privilege. Had a man of colour, lower economic status, or less political connectedness been found in similar circumstances there is no question their treatment and experience would differ. The defense lawyers appealed to that bias and claimed it unreasonable to think this charming, loving man could commit such a heinous assault.
I admit my guilt in following true crime because I am sensitive to the questionable ethics of exploiting victims in this profit-making entertainment genre. For that reason I try to stick to credible reporting and avoid sensationalist storytelling. I pray for the individuals involved and fix my focus on the spiritual insights captured by these real-life dramas. It is obvious to me how deeply imbedded the human desire for justice is. Justice-seeking is in our DNA, as we bear the image of our Creator. The God I know and believe in as the ultimate justice-restorer. Those who could not find it in this life will in due time be vindicated and see justice served. Revelation 16:7 indicates God earns our praise by His integrity concerning truth and justice. In contrast John describes Satan as “a murderer from the beginning, who does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). I’ve grown to appreciate my fate in the hands of the Almighty Judge incapable of favoritism, who cannot be bribed, for both rich and poor are the work of His hands (Deuteronomy 10:17, Job 34:19, Acts 10:34). Jesus offers every repentant heart alike grace, mercy, forgiveness and love. “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17).