The Heather Elvis investigation took a tragic turn for the missing woman's family Monday when the additional charge of murder was brought against the Socastee, S. C., couple of Tammy and Sidney Moorer, the wife and husband duo arrested Friday and charged with obstructing an investigation and indecent exposure. Kidnapping charges were added on Sunday. With 11 hours searching the Moorer house, it seemed an inevitability that murder charges would come next. And they did.
WBTW reported Feb. 24 that, while the Moorers were brought before a judge, Horry County Police Chief Saundra Rhodes announced to reporters at a press conference that the couple were being charged with murder.
"We were able to secure enough probable cause to get a search warrant for the property of the Moorer's. And after conducting that search warrant we were able to secure enough evidence to allow for probable cause for a kidnapping charge as well as the charge for murder," Rhodes said.
According to the arrest warrants, probable cause exists that suggests that on or about December 18 Sidney and Tammy Moorer kidnapped and murdered Heather Elvis at Peachtree Boat Landing, the site where her abandoned car was discovered by a patrolman on Dec. 19.
Heather Elvis had been last seen on Dec. 17. Her last known contact had occurred on Dec. 18. That contact, according to phone records obtained by police, had been with Sidney Moorer's phone. Initially, when asked the last time he had seen Elvis, Moorer had told investigators October. When confronted with the phone records, Moorer, who the police knew had at one time had a relationship with the 20-year-old, admitted he had been in contact with her to tell her to stop calling.
The Moorers became social media targets shortly into the investigation. At the same time, the Elvis family took to Facebook, launching the FindHeatherElvis page. On it, the family and followers posted tips, encouragement, updates, and other notices concerning the investigation and searches organized in the hope of finding the young woman.
But it would be over two months from the time Heather Elvis vanished before members of various law enforcement agencies descended on the residence of Tammy and Sidney Moorer, ostensibly due to new information obtained in video surveillance footage and because of certain financial irregularities. Details concerning what new information had been discovered was not revealed. But that day, Friday, Feb. 22, Tammy Moorer, 41, was arrested. Sidney Moorer, 38, was placed under arrest a few hours later.
The indecent exposure charges reflected on incidents at Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach and in the city of Conway.
In the arrest warrant for obstructing justice charge, Tammy Moorer's arrest warrant reads (per WBTW) that "on December 20, 2013, she gave police misinformation regarding the disappearance of Heather Elvis and Sidney Moorer's activities during the early morning hours of December 18, 2013."
Both arrest warrants, which were worded nearly the same, indicated that the false information provided by the Moorers diverted resources.
The case does not appear to be shaping up to be one where the death penalty will be sought, according to Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson. He said that it was typical in a death penalty case for the defendants to be charged with more than the murder of the victim.
WBTW reported that the Moorers had been placed in protective custody and housed separate from the general population at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center out of concern for their safety.
To date, Heather Elvis has yet to be found.
Volunteers manned an anonymous tip tent over the weekend outside the River City Cafe in Socastee, according to WPDE. Even with the arrests, a young woman is still missing and people like Cathy Gregory find it important that she still needs to be found. The Elvis family still needs answers.
"That's exactly why I came out this morning," Gregory said, "because I figured with the arrests and everything, everybody's going to just think this is done but it's not done until Heather is brought home. I think that is the biggest message that everybody who is here, and still on social media wants to put out there. This isn't over for their family until they know where Heather is."