Although she imagined it happening while they were in Puerto Rico for her thirty-first birthday on June 4, 2021, David surprised her with a Memorial Day weekend proposal, and they spent their tropical vacation celebrating their engagement. It was Mandy’s first real vacation in years, and she unplugged from the world to enjoy every minute of it.

On their last morning in Puerto Rico, Mandy awoke to countless messages and missed calls informing her that Maggie and Paul Murdaugh had been killed.

Instead of a slow morning enjoying brunch before they hopped on a plane home, Mandy was contacting sources and attempting to put pieces together. In the midst of chasing leads and trying to get a story posted before the flight home, she saw an email from David with a link for how to start a podcast. Mandy knew when she returned to Hilton Head that nothing would ever be the same.

Behind the Book

“By this point in my work with Mandy, I had gotten a strong sense of her around-the-clock work ethic, so when she shared that her Puerto Rico/engagement trip/first vacation in years coincided with the double homicide news breaking, I felt like I was really with her on the emotional rollercoaster! This chapter kicks off the meatiest, most action-packed, challenging-to-write sections of the book because there was so much happening at once. Each chapter packed in so many plot points and advancements even though the time period we were covering was sometimes only a week. This is the point in the narrative when things really blew up—the story was going national and reporters from all over the country were racing for scoops. Mandy and I spent hours talking about everything that had gone down over just a few days, and the real work was figuring out what to leave out.”

– Carolyn Murnick

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