PETA wanted Murdaugh hunting trophies, turtle-shell lamps donated instead of sold
Hours before items once owned by the Murdaugh family were to be auctioned off, PETA asked that hunting trophies and other items it considered questionable be donated to its own museum.
The sale was scheduled to be held Thursday evening by Liberty Auctions, an auction house in Pembroke, Georgia, showcasing several items including a leather sofa set, dishware, and other furniture that previously belonged to the family of convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh.
Some of the items included turtle-shell lamps and various mounted hunting trophies, including more than a dozen deer antler mounts, which caught the attention of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an organization known for its protests against animal cruelty and mistreatment.
Ingrid Newkirk, the organization’s president, sent a letter Thursday to Liberty Auction owner Lori Mattingly asking her to reconsider putting the items for sale. Instead, Newkirk said in the letter, the items should instead be donated to PETA’s Museum of Atrocities Against Animals.
“Violence should have no place in our society, and we’re hoping you’ll donate the tortoise-shell lamps, mounted heads, and other decorations created at the expense of animals’ lives,” Newkirk said in the letter. “Your donation would help educate people about the trade in exotic-animal parts and hunting and encourage them to value kindness over cruelty.”
PETA officials have been working on the museum, which is “meant to educate,” for the past few years and are still compiling items for its collection, said spokesperson Ashley Byrne. Some items already cataloged include a monkey fur coat, circus whips and photos documenting PETA investigations into fur farms.
“I really do think we should give thought to how future generations will view our treatment of animals,” Byrne said. “It’s a worthwhile project because our values have already changed a lot in regard to how we treat animals, and they will continue to change.”
PETA had not heard back from Mattingly or Liberty Auctions as of Thursday afternoon.
A representative from Liberty Auctions could not immediately be reached for comment about PETA’s request.
Alex Murdaugh, whose prominent family created a legal dynasty in South Carolina’s Lowcountry for over a century, was given two life sentences earlier this month for killing his wife and son, Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, in June 2021. His attorneys, Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin, have filed a notice of appeal with the courts.
Murdaugh also faces charges for over 100 financial crimes for money stolen from clients he represented as an attorney and from the law firm where he worked and that his family started.
The trial garnered nationwide media attention and documentaries from several media giants including CNN, HBO and Netflix. In addition to the murders, the multi-episode series also focus on the deaths of people close to the family including the family housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield; Mallory Beach, Paul Murdaugh’s classmate who died in a 2019 boat crash; and Stephen Smith, a classmate of Murdaugh’s oldest son, Buster, who was previously thought to have died in a 2015 hit-and-run.
Beach’s family has filed a multimillion-dollar wrongful death lawsuit against several Murdaugh family members and Parker’s gas station for allegedly selling alcohol the day of the crash to Paul Murdaugh while he was underage. A trial for the lawsuit is set to begin on Aug. 14.
Earlier this week, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division said it now considers Smith’s death a homicide and the investigation is ongoing. In a statement via his lawyers earlier this week, Buster Murdaugh denied any involvement in Smith’s death.
A GoFundMe set up by the Smith family to raise money to perform an independent exhumation of the 19-year-old’s body and start a new investigation has raised over $100,000 of its $15,000 goal as of Thursday.