The recent Murdaugh murders case in South Carolina may have taken place a long way from us here in Indiana. But the overriding story that has gripped everyone worldwide, thanks to Netflix and countless podcasts, is that of a legal cover-up and money riding roughshod over the law.

We have had our own issues, on a smaller scale admittedly, with Mishawaka police hiding information when the Mayor’s son was pulled in on an operating while intoxicated charge. Whether you have been reading stories about White House politics, the latest about online betting in Florida, or crypto bro criminals, you cannot escape the stench of legal cover-ups across the nation.

Alex Murdaugh has now been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of his wife and son. He had continually lied to law enforcement officers and the court – the jury decided – about his involvement. He had changed his story, only when caught out in another lie. But there was something deeper that is the truly shocking part of this tragic story.

Even up until the very moment Alex Murdaugh was found guilty of the two murders, many in the small South Carolina county of Hampton believed that he would still walk free from the courtroom. The reason for that abject mistrust in the legal frameworks of this country was that the likes of Murdaugh have commonly gotten away with it in the past.

Murdaugh’s own family has been involved in numerous murky affairs over the decades. But they have always come through and survived. In fact, they have prospered as one of the most influential families in their small southern stronghold.

The facts of the case have been fodder to the tabloid journalists and true-crime podcasters of the world. Not only was this a wealthy man being accused of a series of heinous crimes. The location gave the story an extra southern gothic twist, so loved by everyone not from the south. This story had it all – money, power, and deep-rooted secrets. It is no surprise that the case caught the attention around the world.

But the case involving the Mayor’s son in Mishawaka shows that this is not just something that goes on in the south. It is not something that just titillates the media classes lapping up Netflix true-crime documentary series. These kinds of stories are going on everywhere – including right here in Indiana.

When politicians promise that they will clean up the corruption and misdemeanors in public life, it is regretful that they usually only go as far as their partisan ties allow them. To many, cleaning up the system is just a vote winner and something that is carried out on subjects on the other side of the house. What we have seen in Mishawaka – and Hampton County – is that this is a deeper problem in this country.

Police officers should be made to feel they can carry out their jobs properly
Figure 2 Police officers should be made to feel they can carry out their jobs properly

Breaking official police policies is just a small indiscretion in the grand scheme of things. That is what critics of the story we broke might say. But it is these smaller incidents that come from the belief that they can be covered up. If the powerful allow this to happen – or more commonly actively indulge in such practices – then there should be no surprise when larger misdemeanors are uncovered.

The usual way these kinds of stories go is that everyone professes that they knew what was going on but felt too intimidated about going public. That is how the criminally powerful have been able to continue to operate. A respectable face in public does not necessarily mean that there is not something going on under the surface.

We fully admit that a police captain attempting to aid a wealthy local family in a position of power is not in the same category as what happened in the Murdaugh case. But we need to keep highlighting these abuses when they occur to make sure that the powerful do not feel as if they could get away with anything more important.

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