WALTERBORO, SC — Two men who are “cousins” to some of the Walterboro Cowboys, a violent Bloods-affiliated street gang that originated in the so-called “Eastside” of this small city right off I-95, are the latest characters dragged into the notorious Murdaugh murder mystery — and one said he is being “railroaded.”
Meanwhile, one member of the gang told The Post that “Alex Murdaugh runs half the drugs in this county.”
Last month, the state grand jury indicted two local men — who several Cowboy gang members told The Post are their “cousins,” or close friends — on the same day it levied yet another indictment as Murdaugh, who was arrested in July for the murders of his wife and son at the family’s hunting lodge in June 2021.
Cowboy “cousins” Jerry Rivers, 39, and his friend Spencer Anwan Roberts, 34, were indicted Aug. 19 on charges that prosecutors say involve possibly being part of Murdaugh’s alleged drug and money laundering pipeline in the Low Country.
Murdaugh now faces a total of 90 charges of financial wrongdoing, including recent allegations that he was involved in drug distribution and money laundering across several counties here.
Locals speculate that Murdaugh’s alleged drug operation was bigger than anyone realizes.
A Charleston law enforcement source familiar with the case said the Cowboys gang and other local criminals, with their proximity to I-95 — long a conduit for drugs and guns run from Miami to New York — may play a bigger role than anyone on the South Carolina coast.
“There’s still a lot more to come out and a lot more surprises, I’d bet my life on it,” the source said.
South Carolina Assistant Attorney General Creighton Waters said in court that money “misappropriated” by Murdaugh went through his alleged accomplice, Walterboro resident Curtis “Cousin Eddie” Smith, 62, who’s in jail after being indicted with Murdaugh in late June on sweeping drug and conspiracy charges. From Smith, the AG said, the money “continued downstream” to Rivers and Roberts.
“I ain’t done nothing,” Rivers told The Post last week while sitting on his porch wearing an ankle monitor after having had to post $150,000 bond. “I’ve been railroaded.”
Spencer Roberts’ attorney, Mark Peper, said the charges against the two appeared to be trumped up by prosecutors who are “grasping at straws.”
“They don’t have enough to get Murdaugh on the murders,” he said. “They’re desperate. This is trying to get ‘Cousin Eddie’ to talk more or for Alex to talk more. They’re trying to send a message but it’s ridiculous.”
Rivers — who lives across the street from Khiry Broughton, the leader of the Walterboro Cowboys who was sentenced to prison in 2017 with seven associates — served time at the federal prison in nearby Estill on 2012 cocaine trafficking charges, but claims he’s gone straight. He was first subpoenaed in November and was arrested along with Roberts, who also has a criminal record, at a nearby gambling joint last month. Roberts was not at home when The Post went to his address last week.
Rivers was nailed on an obstruction of justice charge for taking Roberts’ phone during the arrest and when asked to return it, admittedly gave the cops a fake phone.
“It’s bull—t!” one Cowboys gang member with the letters COW (for Cowboys) tattooed across his throat told The Post on the run-down deck of a modular home, a block from Rivers’ house. He said he did not want his name published as he was recently released from prison.
“They (the cops) want to get the Cowboys name in there to muddy the water [of the Murdaugh case] and get everyone to think we done killed those people,” the man said. “Maybe look at some of the corrupt white sheriffs here instead.”
Former Colleton County Sheriff Andy Strickland was in charge at the time Broughton and seven other Cowboys were arrested and sentenced to prison — but three years later Strickland himself was accused of selling illegal drugs. Prosecutors agreed to a plea deal that meant Strickland got five years’ probation.
“I’m going to tell you something,” another man at the gang member’s house told The Post. “Alex Murdaugh is running half the drugs in this county.”
The introduction of the Walterboro Cowboys “cousins” is only the latest twist in a drama that kicked off on June 21, 2021, when Murdaugh, the scion of one of the most prominent legal families in the state, called 911 to say his wife, Maggie, 52, and son, Paul, 22, had been murdered at the family’s 1,700-acre hunting lodge in Islandton, SC.
Smith — aka “Cousin Eddie,” a distant cousin of Murdaugh’s — entered the picture on Labor Day last year when he was arrested for supposedly trying to shoot Murdaugh on a rural road in Hampton County in a convoluted insurance fraud/suicide-for-hire scam. Murdaugh’s attorney later claimed his client had a 20-year opioid addiction and that Smith was his dealer.
But Murdaugh and Smith were allegedly part of a bigger operation.
In June, Murdaugh and Smith were indicted on conspiracy and drug charges that allege Smith received at least 437 checks totaling $2,413,754.79 from Murdaugh, between 2013 and 2021. It’s alleged that Smith convert them into cash in a scheme to benefit Murdaugh as part of “myriad unlawful activities.”
The investigation into Murdaugh so far totals 18 indictments containing 90 charges against him that involve schemes to defraud victims of $8,789,447.77.
Among the many locals that Murdaugh allegedly swindled in insurance settlement scams were the sons of Gloria Satterfield, his family’s housekeeper who died in a mysterious fall in 2018 at the Murdaugh home, and a deaf black man who ended up a quadriplegic after a car accident.
The murder trial won’t start until January at the earliest but courtroom mudslinging has already started, with his lawyers complaining they’ve been “ambushed” by leaks to the media, including allegations that video from Paul Murdaugh’s cell phone shows his father present with him and Maggie not long before the murders.
Murdaugh may be found guilty of the murders, but a number of his friends and business associates could go down with him for financial misdeeds — even if many didn’t fully understand what they were getting into.
“A lot of good people are going to go down with Alex Murdaugh,” said a Hampton County source familiar with certain aspects of the investigation. “A lot of them had no idea what he was really into and they got involved with him in small ways that could end up really hurting them.”
Lisa Smith of Walterboro, who used to be married to Smith’s brother, Bill Ray, said “Cousin Eddie” was a hard-working logger and good guy until he was injured on the job and developed a painkiller addiction.
“Then he started changing,” Lisa said. “We also thought it was really strange when Eddie showed up at a relative’s funeral some years ago with Alex Murdaugh. We were like, what’s that about? What are these two doing together? Now we know.”
But Lisa said she knew something was going on with Smith when he began coming to the bank where she worked in Walterboro to cash big checks that he never deposited into his account.
“I couldn’t cash them because I was kin,” she said. “But I asked him, ‘What are you doing, where is this money coming from?’ and he never answered. I think Murdaugh took advantage of the fact that [Smith] got hurt and couldn’t work and got him involved in all this.”
She, like a number of other residents of Colleton and Hampton counties interviewed by The Post last week, wonder if Murdaugh’s alleged drug-running could involve smuggling by sea as well.
That theory comes from intel that first surfaced on web sleuth forums in the weeks following the murders of Maggie and Paul, indicating that Murdaugh had a decades-long friendship with a Beaufort-based fisherman, Barrett T. Boulware, who was arrested with his father on drug smuggling charges in 1980. In that case, officials seized 15 tons of marijuana on a shrimp boat in the Bahamas.
The charges against the Boulwares were dropped in 1983 “after a key government witness was killed when he stepped in front of a car in Florida,” the State newspaper reported at the time.
In January, state investigators probing Murdaugh’s financial and legal misconduct began looking into the relationship between he and Boulware, who owned Moselle, the hunting lodge where Maggie and Paul were killed, before selling it to Murdaugh in 2009.
Speculation about the pair’s relationship intensified after FitsNews combed through Beaufort County public records that showed Murdaugh and Boulware, who died in 2018, co-owned several odd properties along the waterways of St. Helena Island — including tiny lots of land ideal for drug smuggling lookouts or offloading locations, the outlet suggested.
It reminded some here of the legendary “Operation Jackpot,” which involved “gentleman smugglers” from South Carolina accused of smuggling 347,000 pounds of marijuana and 130,000 pounds of hashish into the US — through the marshy channels and inlets of the coast — from 1983 to 1986.
But several St. Helena Island locals say that drug smuggling there is a thing of the past.
Scott Sanders, 64, a former tomato farmer and shrimp-boat owner who’s been a real-estate agent on St. Helena’s Island for 23 years, lives at the end of a long dirt road near what’s called “Land’s End” on the island. He said knew Boulware, as well as some of the smugglers from Operation Jackpot.
Access to the islands, which are sometimes referred to as “fish camps,” is only possible by boat, he said.
“I knew Barrett. He was a real opportunist,” Sanders told The Post outside his home last week. “He was a fisherman and an entrepreneur, I guess you could say. But I don’t think he and Murdaugh were doing any drug smuggling. Those days have been over for a long time. You don’t need to import bales of marijuana anymore — you can just buy it from Colorado.”
Sanders said Murdaugh and Boulware were likely amassing the land in hopes of one day selling it back to the government at a profit.
The Charleston law enforcement source said he believes Murdaugh’s drug operation, if it does exist, is concentrated more inland, in Hampton and Colleton counties.
Murdaugh is being held on a $7 million bond on the murder charges in the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center outside Columbia. The whereabouts of his only surviving son, Buster, 26, are unknown. An acquaintance of the family in Hampton told The Post Buster has been staying with friends in North Carolina and St. Croix.
“It gets more like a season of ‘Ozark” every day,” Sean Pool, Smith’s son-in-law, told The Post last week. “We try to stay the hell away from all of it.”