Pregnant or not, woman charged in Heather Elvis disappearance denied bond for second time

troot@thesunnews.comMay 23, 2014 

— For a second time, a judge on Friday denied bond for a 42-year-old woman who is charged in connection with the disappearance of 20-year-old Heather Elvis.

Tammy Moorer petitioned for a hearing to have her bond reconsidered, saying she is pregnant and is concerned about her health while jailed. Her attorney also relayed concerns about the lack of evidence against her in the case.

But the prosecutor said they are unsure she is pregnant because lately she has refused to take prenatal vitamins, be examined by a doctor and take another pregnancy test.

Circuit Court Judge Steven John denied Moorer’s request and ordered that jail staff “closely monitor the health of Mrs. Moorer and continue to offer services to her with the assumption she has a viable pregnancy.”

“If the defendant continues to refuse those services . . . I want that documented in writing,” John said.

Moorer interrupted John before he issued his ruling to deny her bond, and John gave her time to speak to her attorney, Greg McCollum, who said she expressed concerns about being exposed to diseases such as HIV, herpes, MRSA infections and bugs in jail.

After John left the courtroom, Moorer’s mother openly sobbed while another family member loudly spoke of her disapproval of the ruling. Horry County Sheriff deputies quieted the family and removed a man from the audience after he made a remark to the family.

A few minutes later in the parking lot, there was a report of a confrontation, but deputies found the same family member yelling about her purse being in the trunk of a vehicle. Deputies stood watch until family members of Moorer and Heather Elvis left the parking lot.

Neither family made a public comment about Friday’s hearing.

Moorer and her 38-year-old husband, Sidney Moorer, are each charged with murder, kidnapping, obstruction of justice and two counts of indecent exposure in connection with the Elvis case.

In April, Tammy Moorer’s attorney filed the motion for bond to be reconsidered for the 42-year-old. The Moorers appeared in court before John on March 17 for their initial bond hearing on the charges and their request for bond was denied.

On March 21, the couple were indicted on the charges by an Horry County grand jury, which met the day before, according to court records. That same day, John also signed a gag order, which prohibits any prosecutors, defense attorneys or their staffs and members of law enforcement, who have investigated the case, to publicly speak or release documents regarding the case.

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. Elvis’ keys, cellphone and purse were not found in the locked car and she remains missing.

Police charged the Moorers with murder and kidnapping Feb. 24 in connection with Elvis’ death.

During the initial bond hearing, prosecutors pointed to cellphone records and video surveillance to build their case against the couple. But defense attorneys said the evidence is circumstantial, with no link to tie the couple to Elvis’ disappearance.

Tammy Moorer has been held at the Georgetown County Detention Center, but was returned to Horry County earlier this month for Friday’s hearing and has been held at J. Reuben Long Detention Center where her husband is being held.

During the hearing, McCollum said Moorer has been under stress in jail because of the death of her father and she was taken to a hospital and learned she was pregnant. McCollum said Moorer and her husband were trying to get pregnant before they were arrested in February.

McCollum asked for John to set a bond for Moorer because she has had miscarriages in the past and the stress of being jailed could jeopardize this pregnancy.

Donna Elder, a senior solicitor, said on March 13 Tammy Moorer took a pregnancy test at the Georgetown County Detention Center and it was negative. On March 18, Moorer told officials she believed she was pregnant and requested to be examined by an obstetrics and gynecology doctor because the last time she had one was in 2005, Elder said.

On March 26, Elder said Moorer was taken to Loris Hospital for a human chorionic gonadotropin, also known as hCG, test, which is a hormone produced during pregnancy. That urine test showed hCG levels had increased and indicated she was pregnant, but an ultrasound showed it was questionable, Elder said.

On March 28, Moorer was taken to Conway Medical Center for another hCG test to confirm, but it showed her levels had not risen much from the first test two days prior.

“The doctor said if it was a viable pregnancy it would have doubled,” Elder said.

Officials have asked Moorer to take another pregnancy test and be examined by an OBGYN, but Elder said she has since refused those tests and refused to take any prenatal vitamins offered to her by jail staffers.

“They have many inmates who are pregnant that they take care of every day,” Elder said of the jail staff’s ability to address Moorer’s needs regarding the possible pregnancy.

McCollum also said there is no evidence against Moorer and police were under public pressure to make an arrest, so they took them into custody with the hopes an incriminating statement would be made by one of them. He said the couple had cooperated with police from the start of the investigation.

“There is no evidence at all to link Tammy Moorer to the possible disappearance or death of Heather Elvis,” McCollum said. “She’s innocent, not just presumed innocent, but innocent.”

McCollum said Moorer is seeking a trial in the case.

But Elder said the guilt or innocence doesn’t impact Moorer’s right to a bond and possible release until the trial.

“This is not a case where law enforcement rushed to make an arrest,” Elder said. “Contrary to public pressure . . . they arrested them over two months later after a full investigation.”

Contact TONYA ROOT at 444-1723 or follow her at Twitter.com/tonyaroot.

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