Horry County denies request for documents related to Heather Elvis case

akelley@thesunnews.comMarch 17, 2014 

— A request for documents related to the murder of 20-year-old Heather Elvis was denied by Horry County officials Monday.

The Sun News filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents detailing what was found during executions of search warrants at the home of Sidney and Tammy Moorer, who are charged with Elvis’ murder.

Horry County spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier said the results of the search warrants are exempt under state law because the information is to be used in a prospective law enforcement action or it would disclose investigatory techniques not otherwise known outside of the government.

Horry County Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said his office considers the investigation of Elvis’ disappearance and murder ongoing.

“Generally, even if it hurts us, we try to turn it over,” Richardson said of FOIA requests. “But, there are certain exceptions to FOIA and we believe this falls under those exceptions. There are still mounds and mounds of evidence. This is truly an ongoing investigation. We are certainly not trying to deny the public the right to see anything they are entitled to.”

A police report released last week said the Moorer home “was in disarray and unsanitary” with multiple guns in the master bedroom where the entire family was sleeping when authorities searched the home on Highway 814 on Feb. 21. Officers found two long guns leaned against the wall, while a pistol was on the nightstand next to the bed, according to the report. Horry County Police Chief Saundra Rhodes said Monday that police went to the Moorer home 39 times during the course of the investigation.

Last week, Richardson filed a motion for a gag order which would prevent lawyers from publicly commenting on the case.

He said he expects defense attorneys to request a change of venue, and the motion for a gag order is one step he hopes will prevent that.

“I can promise you, whenever this case comes to trial, that whoever is left in the trial will scream to the top of their lungs to move this case from Horry County saying there’s been too much publicity,” he said. “The gag order is there to protect the judicial system.”

Richardson said the case should remain in Horry County and be heard by an Horry County jury because that is where the crime happened, where Elvis and her family are from and where the Moorers live.

“This is Horry County’s case,” Richardson said. “We don’t want a change of venue. We don’t want to take it to Bennettsville or Lexington.”

He said the intent is “not to limit the community’s access to knowledge,” but to prevent “the case from being tried in the media.”

Richardson said he expects a judge to make a decision on the gag order as early as this week.

Contact AMANDA KELLEY at 626-0381, or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_akelley.

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