MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The search for Heather Elvis has captivated the Myrtle Beach area and sparked interest from across the country.
Now missing for nearly a year, the search continues as the murder trial for those charged in her death draws closer.
Husband and wife Tammy and Sidney Moorer have remained behind bars since February, charged with kidnapping and murdering then 20-year-old Heather Elvis.
Attorneys on both sides sifted through evidence, privately, after a judge approved a prosecutor's request for a gag order. The order prevents attorneys and investigators, who've worked on the case, from speaking about it.
“Of course it drives people crazy, because they're interested and don't see any information, so they think there must not be anything there,” said Greg Hembree, Former 15th Circuit Solicitor, regarding the gag order.
Attorney Greg Hembree spent 14 years as the former 15th circuit solicitor, trying murder cases in Georgetown and Horry counties. Whether an opinion has formed regarding Tammy and Sidney Moorer, he would caution for one to wait for the trial.
“The public typically is never gonna hear everything the state intends to prevent at trial, until the trial,” said Hembree. “And then it gets to trial and all of sudden it's like, wow, there's a lot talk about here.”
So far, what has been disclosed came from a bond hearing in March. Prosecutors gave a timeline of phone calls between Heather and Sidney Moorer, up until they say she left for and arrived at Peachtree landing.
The prosecution also released details of surveillance video they say showed the Moorer's truck heading to Peachtree Boat Landing, where they say the Moorer's kidnapped and murdered Heather on or about December 18.
The state released details of a series of text messages they say Tammy sent to Heather, including a threatening text message they say Tammy sent her last November after learning about an affair involving her husband and Elvis.
Back in March, when Anchor Michael Maely asked Tammy Moorer's attorney Greg McCollum about the text message:
"I don't have any information that she met her or knew her," McCollum answered.
Also before the gag order, Sidney Moorer's attorney Kirk Truslow also then told WMBF News his client
had no knowledge of, nor connection to any of the facts surrounding the disappearance of Heather Elvis.
Download and view the 3-page motion, filed by McCollum, in PDF, using the link below:
Since then, defense attorneys for both Tammy and Sidney have
In one motion, attorneys ask for several items, including all tangible objects obtained from the scene of the crime.
Defense attorneys filed motions for evidence, most recently, in September and a second motion in October. Solicitor Jimmy Richardson told WMBF News like in any case, the state's responsibility is to provide discovery. As soon as something comes in, he says they turn it over.
The State has also filed a similar motion asking the defense for evidence related to documents and items expected to be introduced at trial, and results of physical or mental examinations expected at trial.
In September, defense attorneys filed a motion for a speedy trial.
“It's not old enough to get a motion granted. If you went on for years and they're sitting in jail, yeah, then you're looking at problems,” Hembree explained, regarding the motion for a speedy trial.
Hembree says a typical murder trial may take a year or so. And he says the departure of senior assistant solicitor Donna Elder, from the solicitor's office to another job with the state, shouldn't delay the case either.
“I know Donna had other people helping her on the case, so the solicitor's office will be able to transfer that pretty seamlessly,” Hembree said.
When Michael asked if it is a little surprising that a case this big with two murder suspects, loses the head solicitor, at this stage in the game:
“Not really, I mean it's just not that unusual,” Hembree replied. “I actually had a death penalty case, I was preparing with another solicitor and he left the office, and he was doing a whole lot of work on it. So, we brought in another lawyer, got him schooled up and tried the case.”
“[Donna] was here for 14 years at least, since you knew her, timing seemed a little weird some people would say,” Michael continued.
“I wouldn't say that, I think it's just a random thing,” Hembree responded. “I know that because I've talked to Donna, that didn't enter her mind. She just was looking, the opportunity came open and she took it.”
Late October, remains found in Florida that Horry County investigators were interested in, appeared not to be those of Heather Elvis.
Hembree told WMBF News it's really uncommon for a murder trial to have no body.
“That's one of the things [having the body] that you almost always have; it's a critical part of a crime scene,” he continued. “A body is part of the crime scene. It helps you in so many ways prove the forensics in a case.
However, in previous years, Hembree said he's won a conviction without a body. Hembree said the state will have to rely on circumstantial evidence, and says under South Carolina law, [circumstantial evidence] is just as powerful as direct evidence.
“I would not expect the state to have a difficult time showing beyond any reasonable doubt that Heather Elvis's life, her normal daily routine, came to an abrupt halt at a certain date and time.
As for a trial date, Solicitor Jimmy Richardson says the case has never been formally set.
He says the office tries to project the best they can, but can only control the state's readiness.
His guess is February for the soonest possible trial date.WMBF News reached out to both defense attorneys in this case, for any additional comment.
"There is a Gag order in this case," Truslow explained. "The State sought and obtained this Gag order, meaning that the attorneys cannot speak about the case under threat of being in contempt, and possible incarceration of up to one year. Based upon that, I opt to not comment on the investigation or evident at this juncture."