A documentary is out about a local man convicted of killing a Florida priest. Steven Murray’s family wants the world to see how his life went from abuse to killing to forgiveness.
The tragic story about Father Renee Robert’s death comes center stage again in the documentary, Where There is Darkness. While his killer spends life in prison without parole, the film gives an in depth look at the horrifying past Steven Murray endured with an unexpected message to share.
We learned about that message from Pastor Bertie Altman of Fountain of Living Waters Church of God.
“Today, Steven can quote you the murderers of the bible that received forgiveness.”
“If anybody loves Father Renee they would forgive me because he was a man of God,” Murray is heard saying in the film. “Forgiveness is forgiveness.”
Murray made headlines in 2016 for kidnapping and murder of Father Robert. Murray is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to the crime. But that’s not what message the family wants to send. There’s one with much more meaning.
“Father Robert’s punishment isn’t the same as the state’s. In 1995 he signed a declaration of life,” the documentary states.
As NewsChannel 6 reported, the man who died at the hands of Murray never wanted his killer to face the death penalty. It’s that final act of forgiveness Pastor Altman said she hopes those who watch the film will take away from it.
She explained how a petition “Got over 400 and something thousand signatures and also had Catholic priest around the world ringing a bell at a certain time everyday and praying for this paper to be upheld and for Steven’s life to be spared.”
Pastor Altman told us she first met the Murray family in the late 90s at her church. They became close with the Graniteville family, employing Steven’s mother at a sub shop they owned and developing a close relationship with Steven’s sister Crystal. Eventually she learned of abuse from a very timid girl Crystal Murray.
“I said do you want me to tell you? And I told her that I knew her daddy had bothered her,” Pastor Altman said.
We also spoke with Crystal Murray and she explained how viewers of the film will be able to see the horrors she and her siblings lived.
“Our dad was teaching us to shoot up with crack cocaine. As well as making us eat our own waste,” she told us. “Just waking up every day dealing with being molested.”
Murray said Steven helped his father hide the body of a murdered man while she and her siblings watched. Despite the tough past she’s hoping the film helps people.
“Anybody who has ever been abused, I think it would help them. Anybody dealing with drugs, you can overcome it,” she said.
The documentary, Where There is Darkness, will be shown Saturday, January 26 at 4pm at the Imperial Theatre in downtown Augusta. Proceeds from the film will help build Pastor Altman a new church home and she’s hoping to help others in need. The film premiered in Florida in October.