Southern Gothic Murder — Final Installment — Seton Tucker


Seton Tucker is the reason that I all a’sudden packed a suitcase on Sunday night and said, casually, to Tink, “I’m going to South Carolina for the Murdaugh trial tomorrow.”

He chuckled. “Be safe.” He is used to my spontaneous ideas. He never interferers or tries to make sense. He has come to know that when a story is calling my name, I have to answer the siren’s call.

It wasn’t Alex Murdaugh that I planned to see. It was the lovely woman sitting midway back in the gallery, always in an aisle seat. Seton Tucker. Remember that lovely Southern name because my hunch is that we will hear a lot more in the years to come.

Seton, who modestly called herself a soccer mom was either first to the podcast market or a short jump away from it when the Murdaughs became a cottage industry — beginning with podcasts.

I was in the second wave of Murdaugh story watchers when Alex’s wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, were murdered on their 1700-acre hunting estate they called Moselle.

Others tuned in later, to the sordid case when Alex tried to have himself killed by “suicide” but the man, gifted with that opportunity, missed. On accident, he says. Before his hospital release, it was discovered that Murdaugh, a multi-generational lawyer in South Carolina Low Country, had stolen $9 million from the family firm, then declared he had a daily addiction to 80 high-powered pain pills.

Suddenly, from London to Los Angeles, folks were panting for more news of this Southern Gothic murder trial.

Seton, a surgeon’s wife, is in the minor group of people who followed this incredible saga from the day it began with a boat accident, two years prior to the murders, in which teenage Paul was driving, drunk, around 1 a.m. in the Beaufort area waters.

Obnoxious, stubborn, and well over the legal blood alcohol limit, he smashed his boat into a pylon holding up a bridge. Others were slightly injured but one young woman, Mallory Beach, was thrown into the dark, cold waters, only to be found almost eight days later.

Seton became obsessed as would many. She joined chat groups, trolled the internet, and read blogs.

“I wanted to do a podcast but I had no idea how.” She is an arts history major — and don’t forget, a happy-stay-at-home mom. She mentioned her idea during dinner with a friend whose husband is well-known on-air personality, Matt Harris.

“Matt wants to do a podcast, too,” she told Seton. “Talk to him.”

They were podcasting within a few days. I tuned in a week later and have followed them through some 120 podcasts or so.

Initially, I listened for the subject; I stayed because of Seton. She is driven by enthusiasm, intrigue, and, like everyone, is stunned by the myriad pieces of the story. She takes her research seriously and doggedly digs. Perhaps her defense lawyer-father has given her direction and if he has, he should be mighty proud.

“I never could imagine all that has happened,” says Seton, who wears a strong Southern-well-mannered breeding comfortably and dresses her average height in classic styles of well-made black slacks and pearl-colored silk blouses with a complimentary silk scarf tied across her shoulders. Her carefully tended blonde hair is pulled back and spilling out casually. Her smile is warm and her eyes twinkle, exuding a warm hospitality.

I enjoyed her podcasts with Matt so much that I recommended them to those on my newsletter subscription list then sang her praises to anyone looking for a good Murdaugh podcast.

“Where do you go from here?” I asked because I know the let-down when a fun job, well done, ends.

“It’s a little bittersweet,” she admits, “because I don’t think we will ever find a case this good again. But I do want to keep doing it.” She has her eye on another case now.

Seton Tucker. It looks like an unimaginable podcast career has found its perfect partner.

[Ronda Rich dabbled in crime reporting in her early newspaper days. Her forthcoming novel is “St. Simons Island: A Stella Bankwell Mystery” (Mercer).]