Conway — The family of Heather Elvis listened as prosecutors outlined cell phone records that tracked her last communications, and heard details of the young woman’s affair with the man accused of murder in her disappearance in mid-December.
Circuit Court Judge Steven John denied bond for Sidney Moorer, 38 and his wife, Tammy Moorer, 42, of Myrtle Beach during a nearly two-hour bond hearing in a packed Conway courtroom on Monday for a case that has played out on social media and national television.
Along with tips and support for Elvis’s family, theories, unfounded accusations and threats against both families have surfaced online. The case drew so many onlookers Monday that Horry County’s largest courtroom reached its 227-seat capacity and many would-be observers had to be turned away.
Terry Elvis, Heather Elvis’ father, said he was glad to have a chance speak for his 20-year-old daughter, whose body still has not been found.
“This is about our daughter Heather. I’m asking you to protect our youngest daughter. I can’t have another child go missing. I can’t fathom that thought,” Terry Elvis said to John during the hearing. “It’s been threatened because of this situation and I believe it would get worse if bond was allowed.”
Heather Elvis was last seen the night of Dec. 17 and last heard from early Dec. 18, according to authorities. She was reported missing Dec. 19 after Horry County police found her car, which was registered to her father, parked at the Peachtree boat landing.
“We put our life on hold. There’s a huge void in our life,” Elvis said. The family has not been “able to live without fear and threats” to them.
Sidney Moorer is being held at J. Reuben Long Detention Center; Tammy Moorer is being held at the Georgetown County Detention Center. Both are charged with murder and kidnapping along with obstruction of justice and two counts of indecent exposure.
The two were dressed in business clothing for the hearing, and were supported in the courtroom by their immediate family including their three children, ages 14, 12 and 8.
Heather Elvis’s family and supporters also filled the courtroom. Donna Vance, an Elvis supporter, put on her teal “Heather Elvis” T-shirt as she left the courtroom. The judge had barred such displays inside the hearing, and extra security measures were in force for those entering the court.
Vance called the judge’s decision “one small victory,” for the family.
As investigators began to dig into the case, they learned that Elvis and Sidney Moorer had begun a relationship in June 2013 and ended it in October. But when Tammy Moorer found out about the affair she began to harass the young woman, Donna Elder, a 15th Circuit senior solicitor, told the judge.
“Heather was in fact fearful of Tammy during this time period,” Elder said. Once, when Sidney Moorer was making a call to a manager at Tilted Kilt, a bar where Elvis worked, Tammy Moorer took the phone and told the manager Elvis should be fired, calling her several derogatory names. After learning of the affair, Tammy Moorer handcuffed her husband to the bed at night, a condition he agreed to for a six-month probationary period, Elder said.
Elder also told John about dozens of telephone calls and text messages Tammy Moorer sent to Heather Elvis, and outlined threatening social media posts were made during the case.
After examining video surveillance from a business and private home, police saw that a pickup truck that they matched to one owned by the Moorers had gone to the boat landing the night Elvis was last heard from. The Moorers live about three miles from the boat landing.
In the murder and kidnapping arrest warrants, police said that on or about Dec. 18, the couple kidnapped and murdered “Heather Elvis with malice, forethought” at the Peachtree Boat Landing.
The indecent exposure arrest warrants for the Moorers accuse them of exposing themselves in public between Dec. 17 and Dec. 18 at 1325 Celebrity Circle and in Conway at Atlantic Avenue and Century Circle. The obstruction warrants also showed that Sidney Moorer impeded or interfered with the investigation into Elvis’ disappearance by providing false, misleading or inaccurate information about Elvis and about their activities in the early morning of Dec. 18, which caused authorities to divert resources.
The obstruction of justice warrant for Tammy Moorer is almost identical, but said she provided false information about her and her husband’s activities Dec. 18.
Defense attorneys for the couple disputed the timeline and details, and said there was no evidence to link the couple to Elvis’ disappearance.
Sidney Moorer’s attorney, Kirk Truslow, and Tammy Moorer’s attorney, Greg McCollum, each asked for a reasonable bond from John, and said they would understand if there were conditions or terms of the bond requirements.
“If they were going to flee, they would have fled. If they were going to harm somebody, they would have harmed somebody,” Truslow said during the hearing. As for fearing the community, Truslow said Sidney Moorer “will take his chances.”
McCollum told John his client had no prior criminal record, had grown up in Horry County, and was not a risk to flee the area if she was released on bond.
“What brings us here today is certainly a very tragic and terrible event,” McCollum said. “We look at flight risk and threat to the community in a bond hearing. . . . She meets the highest standard for” release.
Elder said that the Moorers have posted photos on social media showing them with weapons since Elvis was last seen, and they also have an extensive travel history throughout the country and outside of it.
Neither Tammy nor Sidney Moorer have a passport, the lawyers said.
Elder also said the Moorers have responded to social media posts by others about the case and engaged in threats about their families. She asked John to deny bond because the couple were a flight risk and there could be issues in the community because of all the attention the case has received.
Horry County police Chief Saundra Rhodes told John that officers have been at the Moorer’s home at least 39 times since detectives began investigating the case. She said she feared that there would be violence at the home if the couple were released on bail.
“It is my belief that both Tammy and Sidney Moorer are a danger to the community . . . [their release could] entice a large amount of ill will in the community,” Rhodes said.
John said he denied the motions for bond because of the danger of releasing the couple into the community for their safety and the safety of others, and the couple’s flight risk.
“A person is entitled to a bond unless certain conditions that the court finds that release would constitute unreasonable danger to the community or risk of flight,” John said before denying the motions. “Due to the seriousness of the charges . . . the nature of the case, the potential penalty these defendants face . . . the court at this time has serious questions as to the likelihood if the defendants will appear in court when called. I am extremely concerned about the potential of violence.”
John also told attorneys any future motions should be addressed to him as the administrative judge for the case at the moment.
The Moorers were taken into custody when police served a search warrant at 7 a.m. Feb. 21 at their home on Secondary Highway 814. They were charged with obstruction of justice and two counts of indecent exposure and bond was set by a magistrate judge at $20,000 for each of them on those counts. Two days later, Horry County police charged the couple with kidnapping. A day after that they were charged with murder.
The Horry County Sheriff’s Office took extra measures to ensure order was maintained during Monday’s hearing and that all those attended were safe, said Sgt. Jeff Benton. Those who attended the hearing had to go through two metal detectors and their bags were searched.
Officials also held the groups and released them in a staggered timeframe to allow them to exit the building and not cross each other’s paths. John sternly warned attendees about any emotional outbursts at the start of the hearing and said that if someone had an outward display or had an electronic device that alerted during the hearing, they would be held in contempt of court.
Dozens of searches have been conducted for Elvis, but she has not been found. Horry County police say anyone with information regarding her whereabouts or information about the case can call 915-TIPS.
Police also have re-enacted what they think may have happened to Elvis at the boat landing on Feb. 28. Officers spent several hours at the location to determine tidal flows and how water circulates around the Peachtree Boat Landing to figure out how they might recover evidence in the case.
Contact TONYA ROOT at 444-1723 or follow her at Twitter.com/tonyaroot.