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Searching For Cold Cases

Mother Of Two Nancy Moyer Went Missing From Washington In 2009. What Happened To Her?

Nancy Moyer was 36 years old when she vanished from her home in Tenino. 

By Aly Vander Hayden

By all accounts, Nancy Moyer should not have gone missing. 

A 36-year-old mother of two, Moyer lived in the small community of Tenino, Washington, and held a stable job at the nearby Department of Ecology. She was surrounded by a supportive family and loving friends. 

“This kind of stuff doesn’t happen to normal, everyday families," her former husband, Bill Moyer, told “Searching For,” an original series on Oxygen.com

Although Nancy had separated from Bill two years earlier, they remained on good terms and shared custody of their daughters, Sam and Amanda. 

“Whether you’re separated or together, you’re still a family,” Bill said. “Nancy and I wanted the best for them.” 

Bill had the girls on weekends, and Nancy took care of them during the week, never missing a pick-up or drop-off.  

The Sunday of March 8, 2009 was like any other for the Moyers. Bill brought their daughters back to Nancy’s home, expecting his estranged wife to be there waiting. When he arrived, however, Nancy was nowhere to be found.  

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At first, Bill said there didn’t appear to be an immediate cause for concern. Aside from the fact that the front door was ajar and the lights were on, “nothing really seemed out of place at all.” 

Nancy was known to take walks in the neighborhood, and there was a gas station down the road where she would sometimes get groceries. The three went inside to wait for her, but as the time passed, Bill said he started to worry. 

“I knew something wasn’t right … It was so far out of character,” he said.  

Sam, who was 9 years old at the time, remembered she had brought home Circus Peanuts, a candy she and her mother both loved, telling “Searching For” that she had saved the last few for Nancy. Before Bill took the girls back to his house, Sam set the bag of candy on the coffee table, so they would be there once Nancy returned. 

“I didn’t expect her to be gone forever,” Sam said. 

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After contacting several family members and co-workers, Bill learned no one had seen or heard from Nancy since that Friday, March 6, 2009. Knowing she would “never leave the girls” or take off without notice, Bill reported Nancy missing to police on March 9. 

Officers arrived at the home and found no sign of a struggle or forced entry, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com.  

Her purse and keys were inside, and her car was parked in the driveway. A glass of red wine sat on the coffee table with another glass next to it.  

Detective Mickey Hamilton of the Thurston County Sheriff's Office told Oxygen.com that police fingerprinted both glasses, but no sets aside from Nancy’s were identified. The glasses are currently being tested for DNA, and they are waiting on the results, according to Det. Hamilton. 

A pack of Camel cigarettes was also found in a foldout chair on Nancy’s front porch. 

One of the only items the family noticed missing was a long brown coat with a fur type lining around the bottom that Nancy wore frequently, according to the probable cause affidavit. 

Investigators learned that on the evening she vanished, Nancy had carpooled home with a co-worker, dropping him off around 4:45 p.m., said Det. Hamilton. 

Nancy then headed to the store to pick up wine and food for the weekend. A shopping receipt found at her home indicated she was at the grocery store around 6:45 p.m, said Det. Hamilton. 

A Tenino police officer running radar near Nancy’s home said he spotted her unloading groceries from her car between 9:00 and 9:30 p.m, said Det. Hamilton. The officer said Nancy was alone, and this was the last time she was ever seen alive. 

One of Nancy’s neighbors reported hearing a “hurried female voice” and the slamming of car doors around midnight. He assumed it was Nancy talking to her daughters, according to the probable cause affidavit. 

It is believed Nancy could have disappeared between 9:00 p.m. and midnight, because that is when the home’s heating spiked due to the front door being left open, said Det. Hamilton.  

While authorities suspected foul play was involved, there were few leads, and to this day, Nancy has not been found.  

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The case seemed to be at a standstill until the summer of 2019, when Nancy’s former neighbor and co-worker, Eric Lee Roberts, allegedly called 911 to confess to her murder. 

On July 9, 2019, Roberts, whose nephew had dated Nancy before she vanished, “stated that he killed Nancy Moyer 10 years ago and he felt tired of holding it inside,” according to the probable cause affidavit.  

He gave his name and address, and Det. Hamilton responded to the call. 

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

He claimed he and Nancy had a sexual relationship and that she “attacked me and I just reacted.” 

Roberts later said that he accidentally strangled Nancy with a scarf during “rough sex,” according to the probable cause affidavit. He said he burned the scarf because it “disgusted” him. 

“It wasn’t supposed to happen,” Roberts allegedly told Thurston County Sheriff's Office investigators. He then led them to a concrete fire pit on his property and 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.” 

The following day, Roberts was arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder, and authorities began their search of his property. Roberts sat down for his second interview with law enforcement, during which he recanted his confession and said he did not know why he told police he killed Nancy, according to the affidavit. 

Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza said at a press conference that Moyer’s remains had not been found at the property. Investigators are continuing to process evidence related to Roberts’ original claims, according to Det. Hamilton, and he has since been released from custody. No charges have been filed against Roberts, and he has maintained his innocence.  

In an interview with “Hide and Seek,” a podcast dedicated to the case, Roberts said 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 said he was “appalled and amazed at the lack of evidence and what I was going through,” and he continues to maintain his innocence. 

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Det. Hamilton confirmed to Oxygen.com that there are suspects in the case, but they have not been publicly named or identified by police. 

Sam said it was “comforting, therapeutic in a way” that some movement had been made in her mom’s case, but for now, the family is left searching for answers.  

“Not knowing is a terrible feeling. I don’t know if she’s dead. I don’t know if she’s alive. It’s hard,” Sam said.

Every day of the past 10 years, the Moyers have felt Nancy’s absence, and in conversation with “Searching For,” both Sam and Bill reflected on major life moments that Nancy has missed: Sam getting her license, graduating from high school, going to her first dance. 

“All the things where ‘Mom is supposed to be there’ was taken away from them,” Bill said.

Although Sam has struggled with her own “rough patches,” she stays involved with the case because she wants Nancy “to be found … she should be here.” 

“For me to move on, I need someone to take responsibility,” Sam said, adding that if she could speak to her mom one last time, she “would just tell her I love her.” 

If you have any information regarding the disappearance of Nancy Moyer, please call the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office at 360-786-5500. 

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