TV: SC Murdaugh family murder, fraud case on CBS 48 HOURS


From left, Richard Alexander Murdaugh, Margaret “Maggie” Kennedy Branstetter Murdaugh, Paul Terry Murdaugh and Richard Alexander Murdaugh (Alex) before a formal event in 2019.

Torn From Her Arms (8 p.m., Lifetime) This new Lifetime movie is based on a true story about a mother and daughter who must find their way back to each other after being separated at the U.S. / Mexican border. Judy Reyes plays Thelma Garcia, a Texas Immigration lawyer who works tirelessly to reunite the pair. Gloria Reuben plays Pulitzer Prize-winning ProPublica reporter, Ginger Thompson, who broke the story. The movie follows Cindy Madrid and her six-year-old daughter, Ximena (Camila Nuñez), who fled violence in El Salvador for safety in the U.S., only to be separated at the border as a part of the Administration’s Zero Tolerance Policy. Detained in detention centers in different states, Cindy and Ximena endured inhumane living conditions and inadequate medical care, but that was nothing compared to the emotional toll of being apart. Their story would gain national attention when a whistleblower leaked a gut-wrenching audiotape of six-year-old Ximena crying for her mother. The onslaught of media attention incited by Ginger’s story alerted the nation to the cruelties being committed against undocumented immigrant families at the border.

48 HOURS: The Murdaugh Mysteries (10 p.m., CBS) – South Carolina’s Murdaugh family is back in the national television spotlight tonight, after being the focus of Friday night’s “Dateline” show on NBC. Friday’s “Dateline” focused more on the accidental death of Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Satterfield (and the subsequent insurance fraud associated with her death). Tonight’s “48 HOURS” gives a rundown of the various threads of the Murdaugh case — a mother and son murdered, a young woman killed in a boat crash, a young man found killed in the middle of a South Carolina roadway, the housekeeper killed in the family home after tripping over a dog, the family patriarch allegedly shot in the head in a botched suicide-for-hire plot and more — but pays special attention to the boat crash that killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach. Alex Murdaugh’s son Paul Murdaugh was believed to be responsible for the boat crash. Correspondent Nikki Battiste has the first TV interviews with Mallory’s aunt, and with Stephen Domino, a deputy sheriff and one of the investigators at the crash. The Beach family filed a wrongful death suit against members of the Murdaugh family.

The episode also reports on how Alex Murdaugh, the wealthy, once prominent attorney and family patriarch at the center of the story, found his wife Maggie and son Paul shot to death at the family’s South Carolina hunting lodge in June 2021. In September of this year, Murdaugh resigned from his law firm and a day later reported he had been shot by Curtis Smith. Smith tells “48 HOURS” that he never shot Murdaugh, who allegedly hired Smith to kill him so that his surviving son could get the insurance money. Today, Murdaugh faces charges of insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and filing a false police report, in addition to two felonies related to a different alleged insurance fraud case involving his former housekeeper’s death. The episode also reviews what is known about the murders of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, and about the reopening of the investigation into the unsolved death of Stephen Smith.

Austin City Limits (12:30 a.m., PBS NC) – Brandy Clark performs cuts from “Your Life Is a Record.” Charley Crockett plays tunes from “Music City USA.”

Note: There is no new “Saturday Night Live” episode tonight. We get a repeat of the Owen Wilson episode with Kacey Musgraves.

Some programming descriptions are provided by networks.

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Brooke Cain is a North Carolina native who has worked at The News & Observer for more than 20 years. She writes about TV and local media for the Happiness is a Warm TV blog, and keeps track of changes in the local grocery landscape.

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