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. Right before putting her phone on airplane mode, Mandy got one last text asking her if she wanted to be on 20/20.

Growing up watching 20/20 with her mom, it was hard for Mandy to imagine being on national television. The Murdaugh saga was quickly becoming a topic of conversation across the country.

Click here to watch Mandy, Liz & Sandy on ABC’s 20/20.

While national news outlets were starting to write about the murders, there were rumor threads across social media and narratives that people were taking sides on, Mandy knew that she had to connect all the dots.

On June 10, 2021, Mandy headlined the story “Murdaugh Murders: Unanswered Questions About Multiple Suspicious Deaths Connected to Family”. While connecting the bits and pieces of this Saga, Mandy also encouraged readers to share any information about Gloria Satterfield and Stephen Smith’s cases.

The article had record-breaking views and caused people to talk. As she sat down with Liz that weekend to recap everything that had happened since the murders, Liz told Mandy that she had to start the podcast. A few hours later, they had the preliminary structure of the first episode of The Murdaugh Murders Podcast.

Behind the Book with Co-Author Carolyn Murnick

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

Stay tuned for additional article links and video relating to Chapter 10.

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