You could say Stephanie Truesdale is hooked on the Alex Murdaugh case.
Over the last month, the South Carolina elementary music teacher has been following the disgraced ex-lawyer’s trial for the June 2021 murder of his son, Paul, and his wife, Maggie.
“We have ‘trial night’ when I get home from school,” Truesdale said with a laugh. “I go back and pull up the live stream of the trial earlier that day and my husband and I get through as much as we can. I can’t possibly watch eight hours when I come home from school so sometimes I try to catch up on the weekends.”
Last weekend, however, Truesdale took her interest in the legal drama and combined it with her other hobby: crocheting.
Over the three-day break, she crocheted dolls inspired by the trial, including prosecutor Creighton Waters, Judge Clifton Newman, and the Murdaughs family’s yellow Labrador, Bubba—along with the chicken the dog is accused of killing in a damning video that prosecutors say has demolished Murdaugh’s alibi.
“I started with Creighton Waters, I am not sure why. I have been watching him talk every day,” Truesdale said. “I just thought it could be something to bring a little light to all this darkness. This trial has been pretty heavy for those of us who have been following it the whole time. It was nice to do something lighter.”
“I didn’t even expect anyone would see them,” she added.
But she posted photos of the dolls on Twitter, where they caught the attention of followers who began asking her to make dolls of other prominent figures in the trial and start her own Etsy page to sell them. As of Tuesday afternoon, almost 3,000 people had liked Truesdale’s three Twitter posts about her crochet work.
Truesdale said the art-imitating-life moment came after several years of being “very invested” in Murdaughs’ tragic history. She said that her interest was piqued in 2019, when Paul Murdaugh, 22, was charged for drunkenly crashing his father’s boat and killing his friend, and it turned into a fascination after the young man and his mother, Maggie, 52, were shot to death outside the dog kennels of their family’s hunting estate.
Since then, Truesdale told The Daily Beast, she has never missed an episode of one of her favorite podcasts, Murdaugh Murders, and has followed every turn in the case.
“When there’s no trial to watch, apparently I have too much time on my hands. Yesterday, I made my own Big Creighton Energy. Any thoughts on who I should make next?” Truesdale wrote in a Sunday post featuring her Waters doll, which sports a gray suit, blue tie, and wire-rim glasses.
Truesdale said she even went to the craft store to buy wire for Waters’ square-framed spectacles. When she finished with Waters on Saturday—after a struggle with how to crochet his hair—she knew she had to make a Newman doll to accompany the prosecutor.
‘“Bring the jury!’ Judge Newman is the epitome of calm, patience, and fairness. I loved stitching him!” Truesdale wrote in a Monday tweet of her Newman doll, which features a judge’s robe, red tie, and wire-rim glasses.
Newman took slightly longer than Waters to finish because dark yarns she said make it harder to stitch.
“My eyes started to hurt,” she said, before adding that she started to crochet the Murdaugh family dog during one break from Newman’s doll.
Throughout the trial, Bubba has been mentioned several times because he was one of four dogs inside the kennels at the time of the June 7, 2021 murders. Described as a rambunctious hound, prosecutors contend that Maggie and Alex Murdaugh are heard discussing how Bubba killed a chicken in a video Paul took for his friend about five minutes before the grisly murders. Murdaugh previously insisted he was nowhere near the kennels around the time of the murders.
“Bubba is just a good boy that is doing dog stuff,” Truesdale said. “Then I wondered ‘how do I crochet a chicken?’ I made the chicken in five minutes.”
Truesdale, 42, said she has no immediate plans to sell her dolls online or to make more Murdaugh trial-inspired art with the defense set to wrap up its case this week. She may, however, make an exception for Dawn Staley, the head coach of the University of South Carolina Women’s Basketball, who tweeted interest in securing a Newman doll.
One doll that Truesdale said she will never make? Alex Murdaugh.
“I prefer to use my powers for good,” she said. “I just don’t know. I don’t want to go down a path. I don’t have that juju in my life. Regardless of how this trial turns out… he hurt a lot of people.”