Year in Review: Second trial ends in conviction for Sidney Moorer in Heather Elvis’ disappearance
CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) – In 2019, a jury handed down a second conviction in the kidnapping surrounding missing Horry County woman Heather Elvis.
Elvis disappeared from Peachtree Landing in the early-morning hours of Dec. 18, 2013. While she has yet to be found, two people tied to her disappearance are now behind bars.
"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, Heather Elvis’ father, said. “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's at. But I don't think he'll do it."
In September, Sidney Moorer went on trial for kidnapping for a second time. In 2016, a mistrial was declared due to a hung jury.
It took less than a day for the prosecution and the defense to seat its 12-member jury and to pick three alternates. The verdict came on Sept. 18 – Sidney Moorer was guilty of both kidnapping and conspiracy to commit kidnapping.
During an interview with jury foreman Wanda Simms just days after the verdict, she said she didn’t take the decision lightly knowing it was one she would live with for the rest of her life.
As to what evidence stuck out to her the most, Simms said she had several “ah ha” moments throughout the trial. One was the evidence of Sidney and Tammy Moorer, as police describe, “extensively” cleaning their black F-150 truck.
"After seeing their house, they're not people who cleans trucks or homes or anything," she said.
Simms said what followed the truck cleaning was a red flag for her as well. "Burning the rags was important too,” she said. “Back in the day we used to clean our vehicles and we always wash the rags and use it again. You get a good rag you aren't gonna throw it in the fire."
Another juror, who didn't want to be identified, said there was zero emotion and speculation in the deliberation room.
They also said it was mentally exhausting and draining critiquing the evidence and comparing it to the written law.
After the conviction, Sidney Moorer was sentenced to 30 years in prison. It’s the same sentence his wife, Tammy Moorer, received almost a year earlier when she was convicted in October 2018 on the same charges.
There is a chance for Sidney Moorer to have time shaved off his sentence though.
Shortly after the trial wrapped up and a gag order in the case was lifted, 15th Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson explained that a statute was passed within the last few years that states if an inmate helps in an investigation within the first year of being incarcerated, they can apply for a downward departure to try to shorten their time behind bars.
The Elvis family is hopeful they’ll get some kind of information to lead to Heather.
While Tammy Moorer’s one-year mark is up, Sidney Moorer has until Sept. 18, 2020 to come forward with information.
In the meantime, Heather Elvis’ family continues to honor the young woman who vanished six years ago. On Dec. 18, as they do each year on that date, the family held a vigil not just for Heather’s relatives and friends, but for others who have also lost loved ones of their own.
Debbi Elvis, Heather Elvis’ mother, said Dec. 17 is especially hard because that date six years ago was the last day she spoke with her daughter.
"I wish there was more I said, more I did,” Debbi Elvis said. “It's just very hard to look back and know there are so many things I could have said and so many things I could have done. I could have hugged her more and could have said I loved her more."
It's been a long and hard process for all those involved. On one side is a family still without answers six long years later, while another has both their mother and father behind bars for 30 years.
Then there is Heather Elvis herself, as there are still no signs of where she is today.
When Debbi Elvis looks toward the future, there is one goal she and her family will continue to fight for.
“In the next day, I would like to see us bring Heather home, somehow, some way,” she said.
For WMBF’s complete coverage on the Heather Elvis case, click here.
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