MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Murder charges were filed against Tammy and Sidney Moorer for the alleged murder of 20-year-old Heather Elvis, Horry County Police officials confirmed Monday morning.
According to newly-obtained arrest warrants for Tammy and Sidney Moorer, the HCPD states there is probable cause to believe that they kidnapped Heather Elvis and murdered her at Peachtree Boat Landing on December 18, 2013.
The warrants for the murder charges state that Tammy and Sidney Moorer "did unlawfully, without just or sufficient cause, murder Heather Elvis with malice forethought." The kidnapping warrants state that the couple "did unlawfully seize, confine, kidnap, abduct or carry away Heather Elvis by any means whatsoever without the authority of the law."
The warrants for the Moorers claim the coupled murdered Heather Elvis with "malice forethought." Those two words have big meaning for the Moorers. Under the South Carolina penal code: "The killing of any person with malice aforethought" has a minimum punishment of 30 years, and a maximum of life imprisonment or even the death penalty. Solicitor Jimmy Richardson says he probably won't seek the death penalty in this case.
Horry County Police won't say what they found, but they will say that through the process of elimination at the evidence recovered from the home on Friday, they know who kidnapped and murdered Heather Elvis back in December.
On the WMBF News Facebook page, news of the murder charges were met with some confusion. Many people wanted to know how a person can be charged with murder if the victim is still missing. A law enforcement official said murder charges can be filed without a body only if investigators have found enough evidence to prove the murder happened, through multiple pieces of evidence.
Capt. Dale Buchanan with Horry County Police said, "We have evidence that will be processed with us. SLED is assisting us with processing some of the forensic evidence. Is some of that evidence DNA? Yes."
View the complete HCPD arrest warrants here: http://bit.ly/Nsb72k (Note: this is a 6-megabyte PDF file)
The murder charges were announced at a news conference Monday morning, and comes in addition to the kidnapping, obstruction of justice, and indecent exposure charges against the couple arrested Friday. Authorities confirmed in a news release that both Moorers are accused of murdering 20-year-old Heather Elvis.
View the complete HCPD news release here: http://bit.ly/1fxRkcu
Horry County Police Chief Saundra Rhodes said police located evidence inside the Moorers' home and on their property during the search Friday that gave them probable cause for the murder charge.
"We had a good amount of evidence and the stuff HCPD found, added to that evidence," said Solicitor Jimmy Richardson.
"We have not located Heather," Chief Rhodes said. "That is something that we are still looking for." Chief Rhodes said the investigation is still ongoing, but evidence located on the property led to the charge of murder.
A bond hearing for the murder charges is scheduled the week of March 17, 2014.
Shortly after the murder charges against the Moorers were disclosed, community organizers and search volunteers announced that a prayer vigil would be held Monday at 6:15 p.m. at Peachtree Landing.
"Please come and join us and show the Elvis family that we as a community are praying for them during these difficult times and we and always will be united by Heather," organizers stated in a Facebook post. "As this has been put together today please bring a candle to light tonight in honor of our beautiful Heather as well."
"Friday was probably the highlight of the entire things so far," said Elvis family friend and vigil organizer Matt Stoddard with a sigh. "There's all this activity going on at the Moorer's house, and everybody started getting hope again. Emotions are running wild, and it's kind of hard to describe beyond that."
The roller-coaster ride the Elvis family and their supporters have felt this week hasn't come to an end yet now that authorities believe Elvis has been murdered.
"I don't know about anyone else, but my heart definitely sank," Stoddard said.
Tammy and Sidney Moorer were arrested Friday, February 21 while police executed a search warrant at their home near Socastee. On Saturday, both were charged with obstruction of justice and two counts of indecent exposure. The next day, both were charged with kidnapping in connection with the Heather Elvis case.
On Monday, the Moorers were placed in protective custody at J. Reuben Long Detention Center, confirmed jail director Tom Fox. He said they have been separated from the general population for their own protection.
Fox admitted that this is standard procedure for a high-profile case, and the Moorers will gradually be moved into general population as they evaluate the threat level.
Though it is still very early in the case, Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said, "At this time, I do not see this being a death penalty case."
Elvis was last seen on December 17, 2013 and was reported missing shortly after. Her car was found abandoned at Peachtree Landing days later. After her car was found, an investigation was initiated by detectives with the Horry County Police Department's Major Crimes Unit, HCPD officials stated. A short time later, a task force consisting of officers from the Horry County Police Department, Horry County Sheriff's Office, State Law Enforcement Division, Myrtle Beach Police Department, the 15th Circuit Solicitor's Office, U.S. Marshal Task Force, and the Drug Enforcement Unit was created to investigate the case.
The case has since gained local, state and national media exposure, a Facebook account that has attracted more than 45,000 followers, and a reward for information that has grown to $30,000.
Read more details about the other charges filed against the Moorers here:
Inside the Courtroom: Murder charges read for the first time in front of the Elvis family:
The learn more about the bond hearings and the crowd that showed up in support of Heather Elvis, click here:
View more details involving this case here:
View a complete timeline of events here:
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