A survivor of a fatal boating accident for which the scion of a powerful South Carolina family was awaiting trial when he was murdered has claimed that police may have deliberately hampered the investigation into the crash in an attempt to frame him as the person responsible.
Paul Murdaugh, 22, and his mother, Maggie, were found shot to death at their hunting lodge in June before he could face trial for the boating mishap that killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach in 2019.
But now Connor Cook, who at age 19 was one of six people on the Sea Hunt boat when it crashed and broke his jaw, has asserted that some law enforcement officials may have intended to frame him as the driver of the boat – when it was Murdaugh who was actually at the wheel.
Lawyers for Cook recently filed a petition in Richland County Court which suggests that law enforcement officers who investigated the crash colluded to blame him instead of Murdaugh.
Connor Cook who was on board a boat when it crashed in 2019 launched a court petition in which he believes law enforcement ‘hampered’ the investigation and tried to frame him
Cook believes some evidence gathered at the scene of the boat crash scene is missing and has now petitioned to have the officers involved questioned about why they ‘failed to conduct an appropriate investigation’, according to the petition viewed by Island Packet.
It suggests law enforcement may have first attempted to frame him because of Murdaugh’s status whose wealthy family had ties spanning several generations to the local prosecutor’s office.
At least five law enforcement officers were interviewed by attorneys about their actions during the boat crash investigation.
The petition alleges that the officers failed to conduct an appropriate investigation.
That failure includes the fact officers did not give Murdaugh a sobriety test and ‘other investigative irregularities,’ according the filing.
The petition names the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office and ‘Unknown Others,’ as defendants.
Paul Murdaugh(pictured) had been indicted and released on a $50,000 bond
Cook is hoping a judge will allow him to depose, and obtain the cell phones of the police officers who investigated the boat crash.
They include former SCDNR officer and current S.C. Law Enforcement agent Michael Brock; SCNDR officer Austin Pritcher; Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. John Leroy Keener, III; Former SCDNR officer Robin Camlin; Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Troy Andrew Krapf.
Lawyers hired by Cook will seek to the law enforcement officers about the boat crash investigation; statements collected at the time from the boat crash including body camera footage and other video and audio footage; physical evidence collected; DNA and other biological evidence collected; Phone, verbal and other communications throughout the investigation; ‘Investigative failures and deficiencies and the officers’ relationship to the people involved in the investigation.
‘Brock, Pritcher, Kenner, Camlin and Krapf may have information as to a ‘campaign’ to cloud the investigatory issues and disseminate false information in the community with the intention of misleading law enforcement and prosecution charging parties, and the public, into wrongly and falsely believing Connor Cook should be arrested and charged as the boat operator with multiple counts of Felony Boating Under the Influence,’ the filing reads.
Mallory Beach (pictured ) was killed in the 2019 boating accident still under investigation
Former SCDNR officer and current S.C. Law Enforcement agent Michael Brock is one of those named in the petition as having colluded to blame Cook for the crash instead of Murdaugh
The accident occurred in February 2019 when a boat carrying six people crashed in Archer’s Creek near Parris Island.
Beach, 19, who was one of the passengers as killed. Her body was missing for a week before it was found.
Murdaugh, who was 20 at the time of the crash, was indicted on three counts of boating under the influence in April 2019.
Others on the boat were Anthony Cook, Connor Cook, Miley Altman and Morgan Doughty who was Murdaugh’s girlfriend at the time.
Connor Cook with girlfriend Miley Altman in photos from his Facebook page. The pair were both on the boat at the time of the crash
2018 photo taken in Clemson, South Carolina, shows (left to right) Miley Altman, Morgan Doughty, Mallory Beach and Madison Wood
The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office decided to keep the investigation into the boat crash open even after Murdaugh’s murder.
A week and a half after the murders, Mark Tinsley, the lawyer representing the Beach’s said the family is confident the AG’s Office ‘will continue to investigate and prosecute any improprieties related to any attempts by any member of law enforcement to influence the original criminal investigation related to the boat crash.’
Members of the Murdaugh family have served as county elected prosecutors for almost 87 years but none is currently in office.
Margaret, 52, and Paul Murdaugh, 22, were found dead, shot multiple times, in the backyard of their home in Islandton, South Carolina, last month. Paul, 22, was awaiting trial for the death of Mallory Beach who was thrown from a boat he was thought to be driving while drunk
Paul’s father, Margaret’s husband, Richard Alex Murdaugh, works in private law. His grandfather, Richard Murdaugh III, served as the 14th Circuit Solicitor for 20 years before retiring in 2006.
Last month, DailyMail.com revealed how there was a chaotic chain of events leading up to and after the horrific incident which took place when Murdaugh insisted on boating downtown after an oyster roast on Paukie Island.
According to Murdaugh’s then girlfriend, Morgan Doughty, Murdaugh was, ‘an angry drunk,’ who thought he was ‘invincible.’
All of the survivors testified to Murdaugh being drunk and there being arguments over his determination to drive his boat. Beach’s boyfriend Anthony Cook offered to get an Uber but Murdaugh was insistent they would travel by boat despite the fog and the lack of any light on the vessel.
Cook told attorneys that Murdaugh had a ‘crazy’ alter-ego called ‘Timmy’ who came out when he was drunk.
On the night in question Cook stated, ‘The whole way everybody was fighting and arguing. We drifted around in circles numerous times. We idled along….Miley was steady hollering that she had to work the next morning. She was ready to go.
‘All Paul was doing was making a fool of himself…then for some reason Paul acted like he was on drugs or something.
‘He started taking off his clothes during one of the arguments and it is 40 degrees outside.’
According to Cook, Murdaugh stripped ‘all the way down to his boxers,’ and belligerently refused to let anyone else drive his boat.
Both Cook and Altman told how Murdaugh, ‘slapped, pushed and spat’ on his girlfriend Doughty as the bitter arguing continued.
Asked if Murdaugh had ever spat on her when he was sober, Doughty replied, ‘No.’ She admitted to having witnessed him smoking weed and taking cocaine on other occasions.
Describing the terrifying scenes as the youngsters begged Murdaugh to let someone else drive, or just take them home, Altman recalled, ‘I yelled at him once and he just told me..he was like..shut the eff up and sit the eff down. Nobody else is driving my boat.’
Paul Murdaugh’s ex-girlfriend Morgan Doughty (pictured together) said Murdaugh was, ‘an angry drunk,’ who thought he was ‘invincible’
Doughty told how she and Beach cowered in the boat with their arms ‘intertwined,’ as Murdaugh continued the journey that was doomed to end in such tragedy.
Ultimately, Cook remembered, the boat suddenly took off. In a chilling recollection he said ,’We went from a two-mile-per-hour idle to the bow of the boat sticking up in the air and I went to the back.’
Cook pulled Beach down next to him and held onto her but the next thing he knew, he testified, he was ‘waking up’ in the water, grabbing at piles of weed and debris and fighting against the swift current and frigid temperatures.
In among the panic the survivors quickly established that nobody could locate Beach.
In an emotional Facebook post barely a month after Beach’s death Anthony Cook wrote how he would have to live the rest of his life, ‘with the memory of getting thrown into the freezing pitch black water with the true love of my life in my arms.’
He wrote, ‘I had to swim against that current for 15 minutes in a panic screaming her name begging her to answer me. I had to swim to shore without her to save my own life and live in regret of that forever. I’m reminded of that by every little thing all day everyday!’
Anthony Cook, a cousin of Connor Cook, posted a heartbreaking tribute to his girlfriend Mallory who he called ‘the love of my life’