Inside the courtroom: Murder charges read for first time in front of Elvis family

Published: Feb. 25, 2014 at 12:42 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 25, 2014 at 1:52 AM EST
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HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Monday was the first time the Elvis family was in the courtroom with the Moorers and listened as the Solicitor's office accused the couple of killing their daughter.

It started off unlike any other bond hearing.

The parking lot was full of cars carrying supporters for the Elvis family, and there was heightened security as they flooded into the detention center's lobby. A restless feeling fell over the crowd, as they stood. And they waited.

Many wore T-shirts bearing Heather's face with the words "Break the Silence," a slogan used on the posters urging someone to come forward with information in the 20-year-old's disappearance.

Today, that silence was broken.

Just past 10 a.m., the Elvis family was escorted into the courtroom. Law enforcement personnel lined the walls of the room, many of them on the task force created to find Heather Elvis.

Sidney Moorer was then brought into the room, his wrists shackled to his waist and with cuffs around his ankles. He stood in front of the judge in what should have been a bond hearing for a kidnapping charge placed against him on Sunday, accusing him of kidnapping Heather.

But the Solicitor's office had other plans.

A representative from the Fifteenth Circuit Solicitor's Office stood, pronouncing that following the bond hearing they planned to charge Sidney Moorer with murder.

The family's faces were not visible from the back of the room where the media stood, but father, mother, and daughter became one unit - holding onto each other's hands as the Solicitor's office continued to speak.

It was quickly explained the defense had decided to waive their right to a bond hearing in connection to the kidnapping charge.

Later on Kirk Truslow, the defense attorney for Sidney Moorer, explained the decision was so one judge could make the decision on the bond when his client faces a circuit court judge in mid-March.

Sidney Moorer was quickly ushered out and after just a few moments of tense silence, his wife Tammy entered into the room, also in a prison jumpsuit with her wrists and ankles shackled.

With similar wording, the Solicitor's office stated Tammy Moorer was now also accused of killing Heather Elvis. While she has different representation than her husband, her defense council made a similar decision to waive the right to a bond hearing for the kidnapping charge.

As soon as it had started, the hearing was over.

The family was quickly ushered out, brought into a separate room. Supporters slowly walked out to the parking lot, almost in a daze, not believing what they had just heard: Heather was believed to be dead.

Those closely following this case, dedicating hours to searching and staying on top of developments in the case shared similar feelings of having hope on Friday when the couple was taken into custody, but now they felt speechless. Not knowing how to handle the charges.

But the search isn't over.

Heather Elvis has still not been found, and the Horry County Police Department urges anyone to come forward on where she may be.

Solicitor Jimmy Richardson expressed that an arrest wasn't closure. While he is leading the prosecution on the legal front, he also wants to help the family find Heather so she can have a proper burial. And hopefully the family can find some sort of closure in this case.

While the dust settled outside of the J. Reuben Long Detention Center following the hearing, the investigation ramped up on the prosecution's part.

If this case does go to trial, the prosecution needs to prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, that Tammy and Sidney Moorer are the ones responsible for Heather's disappearance.

No one on either side of this legal battle will give details over what evidence has been collected, worrying about jeopardizing the investigation or giving out strategic details on how they plan to proceed.

After sitting down for the first time with Sidney Moorer this weekend, his defense attorney Kirk Truslow said he was able to go through some of the evidence the prosecution has collected so far.

Upon seeing the evidence, he believes the case will go to trial.

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