SC Journalist Michael DeWitt Jr. Describes Wickedness That Has Followed Hampton County Over the Years
Jeff Walker, Entertainment Writer
While the rest of America and most of the civilized world became aware of the underbelly of Hampton County, South Carolina during the recent Alex Murdaugh double murder trial, long time award winning Palmetto state journalist Michael DeWitt Jr. chronicled centuries old misdeeds and wrongdoings of the rural community in his latest book 'Wicked Hampton County'.
Dating back to the mid 1600's DeWitt Jr. details a steady abuse of misconduct by early pioneers towards the native and African Americans in what was once known as South Carolina's 'white county'. DeWitt Jr. retraces the steps of privileged politicians, law enforcement officers, judges, businessmen, and lawyers, all in an attempt to unveil the wickedness from a few that has cast a dark shadow over Hampton County.
Throughout 130 pages readers get introduced to a banker who colludes with a bank robber, sheriffs and judges who bend the law, officials who stuff ballot boxes from the grave, outlaws who take justice into their own hands, bloody elections, grisly murders, and a host of tales not suitable for dinner table discussions. DeWitt Jr. touches on how Hampton County faired through the American Revolution, Civil War, opportunistic carpetbaggers, Reconstruction, the rise and fall of the KKK movements, Jim Crow era (segregation), and moonshining.
Oddly enough one former prominent family is peppered throughout 'Wicked Hampton County', and not surprisingly it's one that gained acclaim of late. Dating back more than 180 years, Alex Murdaugh's family tree includes well to do business types, realtors, and 15 decades devoted to the legal profession including 80 plus years with a Murdaugh as Hampton County solicitor.
Sadly long before Alex earned front page headlines, the Murdaugh clan used wealth, power, and the law to gain favor, allowing them to obstruct justice. DeWitt Jr. details how a long line of Murdaughs avoided prosecution for tax fraud, petty larceny, and the famed 'Great Colleton County Whiskey Conspiracy'. Although Hampton County's population is under 20K, this rural district 70 miles west of Charleston is steeped in immorality unbecoming the low country of South Carolina.
'Wicked Hampton County' is a frank, yet historical journey into the ugliness that often rears its head in backwoods communities when a privileged few feel they are above reproach. Michael DeWitt Jr. takes readers into the dark side of Hampton County. Locals, South Carolinians, and anyone who was enthralled by the recent Alex Murdaugh trial will find 'Wicked Hampton County' eye opening.