A Look Back: Accused Heather Elvis kidnapper Sidney Moorer goes to trial

Updated: Dec. 19, 2016 at 10:45 PM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - It's been three years since Heather Elvis went missing, and still no justice has been found for her or her family and friends.

The man accused in the 2013 disappearance of Heather Elvis is spending this Christmas with his family after a jury could not decide if he was guilty or innocent. However, this case is far from over.

We are taking a look back at one of the biggest stories that affected our area in 2016, as WMBF provided you with team coverage of the first trial of Sidney Moorer and what followed.

The case all started at Peachtree Landing three years ago. Police say that's where the last signs of Heather Elvis have ever been found. Since then, the case has taken many twists and turns and 2016 brought some of the biggest developments.

The year started with a big announcement. Sidney Moorer and his wife Tammy had both initially been charged with kidnapping and murdering Heather Elvis. But in March, the 15th Circuit Solicitor's Office dropped the murder charges.

"There was no body, there was no evidence, whatsoever, that was coming out in the media, that could lend somebody to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this is absolutely the people that did this involved," said local attorney Jonny McCoy as he offered perspective on the case.

Those murder charges could come back at any time, but police still believe the Moorers are connected to Elvis' disappearance. They would try to prove that first against Sidney Moorer.

But before he faced a judge and jury in June, he spoke with WMBF News about his willingness to go to court.

"That's kind of a double edged sword because you want to go so they have to prove something. I want to get to a point where I'm like, give me what you've got, because I know you don't have anything. I don't understand what you're doing. They should have to prove to the public that I did it," Moorer said.

The prosecution would work to do just that.

"The heart of this case is about an affair...an extra marital affair that that man, the defendant, Sidney Moorer had with 20 year old Heather Elvis," Asst. Solicitor Martin Spratlin said. "Like with a lot of affairs, most affairs, or like most or every affair...there were consequences."

The trial revealed new details about an alleged sexual relationship between Moorer and Elvis in the months leading up to her disappearance. A jury of 10 men and four women listened on as Spratlin described what he called a crime brought on by passion.

"For 20 year old Heather Elvis, however, the consequences of her affair with that man were not simply ripples in the water, but a tidal wave," Spratlin said. "You're going to hear that that tidal wave came crashing down on her the morning of December 18, 2013."

Part of that tidal wave was a possible pregnancy between Elvis and Moorer. Witnesses testified that they had seen Elvis take a pregnancy test but that it had erred. The witnesses also noted changes in Elvis's appearance including a change in bra size and skirt size.

The bulk of the trial though revolved around cellphone tracking information and phone calls and text messages.

"She said that he left his wife and that he wanted to see her and be with her and that he missed her," said Heather's former roommate Brianna Warrelman.

Prosecutors argued that Moorer contacted Elvis to get her to meet him at Peachtree Landing the night she disappeared.

"He had to get here away by herself, lure her away, get her moving away by herself somewhere she had never been in the dark of night," Lead Prosecutor Nancy Livesay said. "That 1:35 call, that was it. That was the beginning of the end for Heather Elvis."

The trial would wrap without justice or resolution for either side. A hung jury was unable to come up with a verdict, and the judge was forced to declare a mistrial.

"He wanted this over and resolved as much as anybody," said Sidney's attorney Kirk Truslow. "It's been a long time. It's been a long trial, and so he's happy to be leaving here today obviously. But he would have rather it be a not guilty verdict and be done."

"Everything about this whole situation has been so confusing and so chaotic and so unknown and so messed up for various different reasons in various aspects of it," Heather's mother Debbi said. "Now we finally get to something that should be quite normal and have a trial with a jury and that can't be normal. That has to have a monkey wrench thrown in it, too."

Moorer would spend some time behind bars though. However, it was not for the kidnapping charge. Instead he was given five months behind bars for breaking the gag order put on the case long before the trial started. He would only serve two of those months before he was released.

The high-profile case has gained much attention throughout the years, and prosecutors are pursuing a retrial for Moorer's kidnapping charge. But even that has been challenged by unique circumstances.

The retrial, though a date has not been set, will happen in Georgetown County. Judge Markley Dennis granted the change of venue because of what he called "social media saturation."

Despite the publicity of the case, there have been few answers for the Elvis family about what happened to Heather or where she may be today.

Another element of this story that has yet to be told is the kidnapping trial of Tammy Moorer, Sidney's wife. We heard bits and pieces about her possible involvement in Elvis's disappearance during Sidney's trial in June. But for now, no date has been set for her to appear before a judge and jury.

See a complete timeline of events in the Heather Elvis case and more stories here.

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