Heather Elvis still has not been found, but the missing persons case that’s continued for more than two months has turned into a murder investigation.
At a concurrent press conference and bond hearing Monday, prosecutors said Sidney Moorer and his wife, Tammy Caison Moorer, would face murder charges in connection with the Heather Elvis case.
Arrest warrants released Monday state Elvis was kidnapped and murdered at the boat landing.
Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said late Monday that there are no plans to pursue the death penalty in the Elvis case.
Elvis, 20, disappeared some time in the early morning hours of Dec. 18. Her car was found at the Peachtree Boat Landing in Socastee the evening of Dec. 19, but the whereabouts of Elvis herself remain a mystery.
A task force led by Horry County police learned enough by Friday morning to execute search warrants at the Moorer residence off Highway 814 in the Socastee area.
Horry County police still aren’t saying what was found, though investigators say they’ve gathered enough probable cause to charge the Moorers with murder.
Sidney Moorer, 38, and Tammy Morrer, 41, have also been charged with kidnapping, obstruction of justice and two counts of indecent exposure.
Bond was set at $20,000 each on the obstruction and exposure charges on Saturday. A May 2 court date was scheduled for those charges, with trial on those charges tentatively set for June 27.
The Moorers posted bond, but a hold was placed on them pending the additional charges.
On Monday, they opted to waive bond on the kidnapping charge in lieu of the murder charges, Donna Elder, the county’s deputy solicitor, said at a bond hearing Monday at J. Reuben Long Detention Center.
A March 17 date has been set for the bond hearing on the murder charge. It will be held in Circuit Court.
Neither Sidney Moorer nor Tammy Moorer spoke during Monday’s bond hearing. At the Saturday bond hearing, Tammy Moorer said she’s lost her job over the Elvis search and also talked about her three children.
Terry Elvis, father of Heather Elvis, appeared in court Monday. He was joined by his wife, Debbie, and daughter, Morgan.
Elvis family members didn’t speak during the hearing, but one or more family members plan to address the court during the March 17 hearing, Elder said.
Sidney Moorer was represented in Monday’s bond hearing by Kirk Truslow.
Patrick McLaughlin, a Florence attorney, represented Tammy Moorer during her hearing.
Police search property
Lt. Robert Kegler, spokesman for county police, said search warrants were executed at the Moorers’ home off Highway 814 around 7:30 a.m. Friday morning.
Investigators remained on scene for about 11 hours, seizing at least one vehicle and other unspecified evidence. The Moorers were taken into custody without incident.
Horry County police executed the search warrant “in an attempt to identify potential evidence based on new information obtained through expert analysis of previously seized surveillance tapes in the area along with financial discrepancies filed with the State of South Carolina on behalf of the occupants of the residents,” a news release said.
Details of those financial discrepancies are unknown, as are the full extent of the surveillance collected.
According to the original missing persons report from Dec. 19, police did try to obtain surveillance from the Carolina Forest McDonalds on International Drive.
A McDonalds receipt found in Elvis’ car when it was discovered Dec. 19 at Peachtree Boat Landing was time-stamped 4:34 p.m. Dec. 17, the day before she disappeared. That was also about two and a half hours before she went on a date with a Murrells Inlet man who’s been cleared of any involvement.
Not long after police executed the search warrant Friday, Elvis family supporters rushed to the scene. Some sought answers; others arrived to show solidarity for the Elvis family.
One of those supporters was Jennifer Garrett of Murrells Inlet, who was among the first to arrive.
Garrett initially wept upon seeing police canvass the property, but then said her mood switched to jubilation and gratefulness.
“I got here as soon as I could to see for myself that this was happening,” Garrett said. “It’s awesome. I knew the day would come – I was hoping sooner than later – but I knew our Horry County police were on it and doing everything that they could do.”
First charges filed
According to arrest warrants released Monday afternoon, Sidney and Tammy Moorer, “did unlawfully, without just or sufficient cause, murder Heather Elvis with malice forethought.”
The kidnapping warrants state the suspects, “did unlawfully seize, confine, kidnap, abduct or carry away Heather Elvis by any means whatsoever without the authority of the law.”
The warrants do not say exactly when Elvis was murdered, nor do they state a motive or cause of death. Elvis herself has not been found and the search for her whereabouts is ongoing.
Kegler, the Horry County police spokesman, said tips can still be passed along to 915-TIPS or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Richardson, the county solicitor, said the charges stem from direct evidence found at the scene and circumstantial evidence from the entire case. Authorities wouldn’t discuss the nature of the evidence in more specific detail.
Police do believe that Elvis drove herself to the Peachtree Boat Landing. They don’t think she was abducted from her River Oaks apartment.
Investigators reached that conclusion after reviewing communications Elvis made through social media, but investigators haven’t said why Elvis drove herself to the boat landing.
According to the Dec. 19 missing persons report, there was a relationship history between Elvis and Sidney Moorer.
The report cites phone records showing Sidney Moorer and Heather Elvis were in communication as late as 6 a.m. Dec. 18.
Earlier that morning, Elvis telephoned her roommate, who said in the report that Elvis seemed like she was “crying and upset” due to receiving a phone call from Sidney Moorer at about 1:44 a.m. Dec. 18. In that call, Moorer said he wanted to leave his wife and be with Heather, the report said.
According to the report, Moorer told police he only told Elvis to quit calling him, but also acknowledged they had a relationship history. He said he broke the relationship off in October 2013, the report said.
At the time of the Dec. 19 report, police said in the report that Moorer’s statements contradicted what Elvis’ roommate told police.
The other charges
Arrest warrants obtained by the Carolina Forest Chronicle on Sunday state the obstruction of justice charges stem from statements made on Dec. 20, the day after Heather Elvis was reported missing.
Tammy Moorer’s obstruction of justice warrant states she “prevented, impeded or interfered with an investigation to include but not limited to providing and creating false, misleading and/or inaccurate information regarding the disappearance of Heather Elvis and her and Sidney Moorer’s activities in the early morning hours of December 18th, 2013.”
Sidney Moorer’s obstruction of justice warrant contains nearly identical verbiage.
As for the exposure charges, warrants state the Moorers exposed themselves on two occasions between Dec. 17 and Dec. 18. Warrants state the one instance occurred at Atlantic Avenue and Century Circle, an intersection within the Atlantic Center Industrial Park in Conway.
The other case, warrants say, happened in the 1300 block of Celebrity Circle in Myrtle Beach. The address at Celebrity Circle corresponds with the street address for Broadway at the Beach.
Warrants state the indecent exposure counts are tied to the Heather Elvis case, but they don’t specify how.
If convicted of the obstruction and exposure counts, Sidney and Tammy Moorer each face up to 16 years in prison.
The obstruction charge carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence and each exposure count carries up to three years, according to prosecutors.
A check of State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) records shows Sidney Moorer was convicted of shoplifting on Sept. 28, 2009.
He was also charged with assault and battery in 2011, but found not guilty, SLED records show. There is no record of prior charges in Tammy Moorer’s record, according to SLED documents.