Who Is Eric Lee Roberts, The Man Who Allegedly Confessed To Killing Nancy Moyer — And Then Recanted?

When speaking to authorities in July 2019, Eric Lee Roberts allegedly admitted to accidentally strangling Nancy Moyer to death during “rough sex,” but he later recanted his statement.

By Aly Vander Hayden

On March 6, 2009, Nancy Moyer, a 36-year-old mother of two, vanished from her home in Tenino, Washington. Her estranged husband, Bill Moyer, reported her missing three days later, when he brought their daughters back to her home and discovered she was nowhere to be found. 

The two had shared custody of their children, with Bill taking the girls on the weekend and Nancy watching them during the week. Neither of them ever missed a drop-off or pick-up, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com

When police arrived at the scene, Bill said he had found the door ajar and that Nancy’s purse, identification and keys were inside the house. The lights were still on, and there was no sign of forced entry or a struggle, according to the probable cause affidavit. Her car was parked in the driveway, but a long brown coat with a fur type lining that she wore frequently was missing from the home. 

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Although authorities suspected that foul play was involved, there were few leads, and the investigation hit a standstill until July 2019, when local law enforcement took Eric Lee Roberts, 53, into custody.  

Roberts called 911 on July 9 and made “incriminating statements implicating himself in the disappearance and presumed homicide of Nancy Moyer,” said the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in a news release. He allegedly made additional statements suggesting his involvement in the crime when speaking to investigators, but he later recanted his statements and was released from custody. 

As of October 2019, murder charges have not been brought against Roberts, and Nancy has yet to be found. Her disappearance, which is being reexamined in “Searching For,” an original series on Oxygen.com, is still an active investigation, and police have released limited information about the case. 

So, who is Eric Lee Roberts, and what was his connection to Nancy?  

Who Is Roberts? 

Roberts was Nancy’s neighbor and co-worker from The Department of Ecology, where she had worked for more than 10 years before her disappearance, according to the probable cause affidavit. Roberts is also the uncle of Aaron Huntley, whom Nancy had dated. 

Roberts was first interviewed by police about two months after Nancy went missing, according to probable cause affidavit. During questioning, a detective asked if he had knowledge of reports that Nancy had met Huntley multiple times at Roberts’ residence late at night. 

He denied that anyone had met at his home to engage in a sexual relationship. (Huntley has also denied meeting Nancy at Roberts’ house.) 

In 2014, five years after his initial interview with police, Thurston County Sheriff's Detective Ben Elkins interviewed a former girlfriend of Roberts, who claimed Roberts had a “kind of weird” conversation with her mother about Nancy, according to the probable cause affidavit. Roberts allegedly became upset when her mother asked him about Nancy’s disappearance, and he reportedly said, “What are you, the f--king police?” 

The ex-girlfriend claimed Roberts had once “choked her out,” according to a probable cause affidavit. 

During the investigation, police also spoke to a “citizen informant,” who alleged that Roberts poured a concrete slab on his property not long after Nancy’s disappearance, according to the probable cause affidavit. The informant said he questioned if Roberts knew anything about his neighbor’s vanishing, and Roberts reportedly said, “Maybe I do know something about it,” but would not elaborate. 

The informant also said Roberts told him that he had a sexual relationship with Nancy, according to the probable cause affidavit. 

Without additional evidence, however, the case seemed to hit a standstill until this past summer, when Roberts allegedly came forward with a shocking admission. 

On July 9, 2019, at approximately 3:00 p.m., Roberts reportedly called 911 to confess to the killing of Nancy Moyer. 

“Roberts stated that he killed Nancy Moyer 10 years ago and he felt tired of holding it inside,” according to the probable cause affidavit. “Eric stated that he was aware that it was a recorded line and was reluctant to give further details. He did say that he knew Nancy Moyer and that she was ‘gone.’” 

“Eric said, ‘I don’t think anyone will be able to find her,’” he confessed, according to the probable cause affidavit. 

While on the 911 call, Roberts gave his name and address, and Detective Mickey Hamilton of the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office went to his house to interview Roberts. 

During his interview, Roberts was visibly upset, “crying, clenching and unclenching his fists, and wringing his hands,” according to the affidavit. 

Detective Hamilton then took Roberts’ recorded statement in his patrol car, and Roberts allegedly said, “I killed her.” He said that he and Nancy had a sexual relationship, and that she “just attacked me and I just reacted,” according to the affidavit. 

Roberts initially said he killed Nancy near the Chehalis River, but when asked where police could find Nancy’s body, he said, “I’m not sure what to say right now. It’s very disturbing,” according to the affidavit. 

Roberts then asked Detective Hamilton if they could turn off the recorder. 

“At that point in the interview, Eric appeared to become more relaxed. He turned towards Det. Hamilton and relaxed his muscles as he changed his story to tell Hamilton he actually killed Nancy in his house,” according to the affidavit. 

Roberts claimed that they had “rough sex” and he accidentally strangled Moyer to death with a scarf, according to the probable cause affidavit. He said he was “drunk or high” at the time. When Roberts realized she was dead, he said he “freaked out” and did not seek help because he did not think he “even had working phones at the time.” 

Detective Hamilton asked where they could find Nancy’s body, and Roberts asked if they wanted to take a walk, according to the probable cause affidavit. He led them to the back of his property, where a concrete fire pit was located. 

“He just stood there staring at the fire pit without saying anything. When Det. Hamilton asked him about it, he allegedly said, ‘I don’t really want to incriminate myself any further, but if I was going to get rid of a body on my property, it would be right there.’ Eric then pointed to the fire pit,” according to probable cause affidavit. 

Roberts said he burned the scarf because “it disgusted” him and that the rest of Nancy’s clothing was in basement, according to the affidavit.  

That following day, authorities began their search of Roberts’ property and collected evidence for testing, reported The Daily Chronicle. An excavator was used to dig into a wooded area, reported KIRO 7. At a news conference on July 11, Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza reported Moyer’s remains had not been found at the property. 

Roberts was arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder, and he was interviewed by Detective Hamilton for a second time, during which he recanted his confession and said he did not know why he told police he killed Nancy, according to the affidavit. 

Investigators are continuing to process evidence related to Roberts’ original claims, and the prosecuting attorney’s office “has elected to delay filing any charges related to the homicide investigation until the investigation is complete and all evidence can be fully considered,” according to the sheriff’s office. 

Roberts was later held on two separate, unrelated charges, which were dropped and dismissed, according to The Daily Chronicle.  

In an interview “Hide and Seek,” a podcast dedicated to the case, Roberts claimed he did not “remember” confessing, and that the medication he was taking could have affected his memory.  

“I just have no recollection of that. I don’t know what to think of that … I had nothing to do with her disappearance,” Roberts told host James Baysinger.  

Roberts also denied having a sexual relationship with Nancy. 

“My nephew slept with her, and I … wouldn’t have anything to do with her. It didn’t even come to mind for me,” said Roberts. 

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Regarding the scarf that was allegedly used to strangle Moyer, Roberts claimed it “was made up” by authorities and “it never f--king happened.” 

Roberts told Baysinger that when speaking with investigators at his property on July 9, he had mentioned wanting his own body to be cremated in the fire pit when he died.  

“I was talking about myself, not about somebody else,” said Roberts.  

Roberts said he was “appalled and amazed at the lack of evidence and what I was going through.” 

"The only thing the detectives told me, because they’re trying to incriminate me … they said, ‘We found a zipper in the fire pit. We found a part of a fur coat in the fire pit,’” said Roberts. 
 
He continues to maintain his innocence in connection to Nancy’s disappearance. 

If you have any information regarding Nancy Moyer's case, please contact the Thurston County Sheriff's Office at 360-786-5279.

For case updates and to help us dive into these disappearances, join the Searching For Facebook group.

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An original series that dives into disappearances across the U.S., "Searching For" hopes to raise awareness about the victims' cases and seeks help from their communities through local town hall screenings. Join the discussion and connect with other viewers.

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