Cold weather, rough terrain greet searchers for missing woman

On foot, horseback and all terrain vehicles, scores of volunteers joined the search Friday for a missing Socastee woman.

The search for Heather Elvis, 20, centered around one area on Tidewater Road.

Hot coffee and hand warmers were the order of the day, as searchers braved wind chills in the low twenties, but that did not cool the enthusiasm of the nearly 100 volunteers.

Erin Johnson and her horse, Chick, were among those who signed up to search an area near the spot where human remains were found last week.

Though the bones were determined to be from a male, the volunteers were hopeful they might find anything more that might lead to finding Elvis, who's been missing since December 17.

"I knew heather when I was younger, we were acquaintances," said Cailey Culp, who aided in the search, with her horse, Smokin' Joe. "If this was me, I'd want just as many people searching for me. I just feel horrible for the family. I just hope we find her."

Deep woods and thick brush greeted searchers who scoured an area near some old railroad tracks.

Volunteers on foot were split up into four teams of about 15 people, with each of them searching an area about 300 feet by 1,200 feet. There, they combed the woods and sometimes dug the ground, looking for any clue, though they weren't quite sure what.

"Well, we hope to find something, to help bring the family some resolution," said search team leader Joel Davis of Waxhaw, NC.

Searching a swampy field, the horse team spotted what looked to them to be old bones.

They tagged the spot, so it could be checked out later by search team leaders.

All day long, searchers endured cold, dirty and not very pleasant work, but there were few complaints from the volunteers.

"It's a good cause, you got to do what you got to do," said Culp.

The searchers will be back out again Saturday and Sunday at 9 a.m. each day.

Those who would like to help, are asked to dress appropriately for the weather and be prepared to search all day.

The reward to find Elvis has now increased to $25,000 dollars.

A tent will be set up near the swing bridge in Socastee this weekend, where volunteers will accept anonymous tips from the public about heather Elvis' disappearance, no questions asked.

More information about the search can be found here.