A Wicked Web: Where Is Heather Elvis?
On December 17, 2013, Heather Elvis, 20, went out for a date with a man she knew from high school. He dropped her off at her apartment at approximately 1:15 a.m., and Heather called her roommate a half-hour later to tell her how the date had gone. Although Heather’s cell phone records reflect her phone being used over the next few hours, Heather has not been seen since, seemingly vanishing into the abyss.
A native of Horry County in South Carolina, the brown-eyed beauty graduated in 2011 from St. James High School in Murrells Inlet, a popular tourist and retirement location. The eldest of Terry and Debbie Elvis’s two daughters, Heather’s parents let her move into her own apartment in Carolina Forest that she shared with a roommate from out of state. She was doing well working at the Tilted Kilt in Myrtle Beach and the House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach while studying cosmetology.
Life for Heather seemed uncomplicated, a young girl with a bright future—but authorities would soon discover otherwise.
Heather's Car Is Found
On the evening of December 19, 2013, Heather’s 2001 Dodge Intrepid was found locked and abandoned near the Peachtree boat landing in Socastee—where authorities believe Heather was lured the previous morning before being kidnapped.
Horry County police, along with S.C. Department of Natural Resources, scoured the landing on foot, by boat, aerial searches by helicopters, and utilized dive teams to search the Waccamaw River. There was a team of investigators on hand searching for more evidence and they discovered Heather’s purse and cell phone were not in the vehicle.
Authorities said they were not sure of the time of Heather’s arrival or departure from Peachtree landing but did say they learned she drove herself there, according to social media messages and phone records.
The date that Heather went on the night that she disappeared was Heather’s attempt at moving on after a relationship with Sidney Moorer, a repairman she had met through her hostessing job at the Tilted Kilt. The relationship had been a mess, as Sidney's wife Tammy had found out about the affair, and it was time for Heather to move on.
According to a police report, Heather and Sidney Moorer had a relationship history. The report went on to say Moorer had called Heather saying he wanted to leave his wife to be with Heather. With this information, a dark web began to unravel for police.
Phone records show that Heather and Sidney’s phones were used to call each other in the early hours of December 18, and Sydney admitted he talked to Heather a few times that morning but denied any wrongdoing.
Rumors of an Affair
Prior to her disappearance, Heather has been the target of brutal text messages after Sidney’s wife, Tammy Moorer, had discovered her 38-year-old husband had been having an affair with Heather. Tammy also began spreading rumors Heather was pregnant. After Heather’s disappearance, Tammy’s smear campaign only intensified and she took to social media, depicting Heather as an unstable homewrecker who was obsessed with Sydney.
Investigators found a post on Tammy’s Facebook that read, “Well, Sidney cheated on me in the months of Sept/Oct with a psycho whore who has since went missing.”
Tammy was angry, according to Dennis Clark, a former manager at the Tilted Kilt. According to his testimony, Tammy had a history of seeking payback on Heather, demanding the hostess be fired or her husband would no longer do repairs on the bar.
According to Clark, the conversation occurred sometime between October and December 2013. “Tammy barged into the conversation and proceeded to tell me how Heather was causing problems for her family, spreading rumors that she was pregnant by her husband and said to fire her.” It would also later come out that Tammy was allegedly overheard talking about a “revenge tattoo” and a kidnapping.
In fact, Jacob Melton, a friend of one of the Moorers’ sons, told authorities that Sidney had Tammy’s name tattooed above his crotch area after the discovery of the affair. Sidney blamed Heather and claimed his one-time lover would obsessively stalk him even though his wife went to great lengths to keep Heather away from him. However, according to police reports, Sidney’s wife would monitor his phone and handcuff him to the bed at night.
On February 21, 2013, the husband and wife were arrested and charged with obstruction of justice, kidnapping, and murder and spent nearly a year in jail before the bond was set at $100,000. The defense team maintained that the evidence in the trial shows there was an affair, but that doesn’t indicate Tammy played any role in Heather’s disappearance.
Prosecutors eventually dropped the murder charges. Sidney was tried for kidnapping in 2016, but the trial ended in a hung jury. However, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for obstruction after the prosecution showed he misled the police during the initial investigation.
Sidney was tried in 2017 on the kidnapping charge, but it ended in a mistrial when the jurors could not come to a unanimous decision.
On October 13, 2018, a Horry County jury came back with a guilty verdict for Tammy Moorer. The jury found Tammy guilty of kidnapping and conspiracy to commit a kidnapping in the connection with Heather’s 2013 disappearance.
Tammy Moorer had the opportunity to address the court prior to sentencing. “I’m a mom to four kids because I have an extra one right now that I’m looking out for. They don’t have anybody else. They don’t live in this state. We have had to leave this state because of harassment,” Tammy told Judge Benjamin Culbertson. “They don’t have anybody else to care for them and they need their mom and I don’t know what else to say to you.”
Moorer continued, “I am Heather’s Number 1 Advocate. I want to know what happened to Heather probably just as much as her parents do. I want to know what happened to her. I have nothing to do with her disappearance. I’ve never met her. I’ve never seen her.”
Judge Culbertson sentenced Tammy Moorer to 30 years in prison on each of the charges.
Bombshell Video Tape Surfaces
During Sidney’s kidnapping trial, a bombshell video had surfaced that showed Tammy and Sidney cleaning the pickup truck investigators say was near Peachtree Landing when Heather went missing. The video was shot on the Moorer’s property only days after Heather disappeared in 2013. It was played for the first time on September 13, 2019.
In the several-hour-long video, the Moorers extensively cleaned the truck and the couple threw the rags used to clean the truck into a “burn pile” on their property. Tammy could be seen intensively cleaning the passenger side doors, while Sidney is on the driver’s side of the vehicle.
In addition to the surveillance footage from the Moorer’s home, prosecutors also showed surveillance at a local Walmart showing Sidney buying a pregnancy test and a cigar at approximately 1:12 a.m. on December 18, 2013. They also introduced surveillance footage of a truck traveling to and from the Peachtree Landing at approximately 3:38 a.m. where Heather’s car was found abandoned.
Assistance solicitor Nancy Livesay said the couple had carefully crafted a plot to kidnap Heather that would leave few clues behind. She also told the court that before Sidney bought the pregnancy test, he removed his phone’s SD card so he couldn’t be tracked. He later called Heather from a nearby payphone rather than using his own cell phone.
With tons of circumstantial evidence, would the jury again have a mistrial?
Sidney Finally Goes Down
Just before lunch on the fifth day of testimony, the state rested its case. In total, prosecutors called 32 witnesses to the stand. The final witness was Jennifer Adams, a South Carolina Law Enforcement Division agent who had conducted a missing person investigation. She told the jurors, there is no trace of Heather anywhere in the United States.
“Cleaning the truck,” Judge Markley Dennis referenced.” That’s probably the most credible evidence. That doesn’t make any sense. Why would you spend an-hour-and-a-half, and then burning the rags?”
Judge Davis issued the maximum sentence after the jury delivered a unanimous verdict after only two hours of deliberation. On September 18, 2019, Sidney Moorer was found guilty of kidnapping charges and sentenced to 30 years in prison the Myrtle Beach Online reported.
Where Is Heather?
Despite the guilty verdicts in each of the Moorer’s trials, police are no closer to finding Heather. “He’s still holding her hostage from us," Heather’s mother Debbie Elvis told the judge before the Sidney Moorer verdict was handed down.
Terry Elvis, Heather’s father pleaded for help to find his daughter. “You can call it kidnapping like it’s a one-and-done thing. It’s not, it’s everything. Six years, it hasn’t gone away,” Terry Elvis told Judge Markley. “No one will tell us where our daughter is. At this point, you give him a day if he will just tell us where she is at. But I don’t think he will do it.”
After the courtroom cleared, Debbie, tearfully said her husband, Terry, put his hand on her shoulder and asked, “Now what?”
“I don’t see this as a victory,” said Terry, “just another step.”
Until this family can bring Heather home, they visit a park memorial—a place where they hope their prayers are heard.
Questions & Answers
© 2019 Kym L Pasqualini