Deputies: Man admits to killing mother of 2 in cold case, then recants

A Thurston County man called 911 to admit killing a mother of two in a decade-old cold case -- then admitted it again multiple times in a recorded interview before leading a detective to where he might have buried her body, investigators said.

A day later, he recanted his whole story.

On Thursday, a judge in Thurston County still ordered Eric Lee Roberts held on $1.5 million bail for the death of Nancy Moyer, who was last seen in early May 2009. He body was never found.

Roberts was first interviewed on May 26, 2009, nearly two weeks after Moyer was reported missing from her Tenino home. A detective asked if he was aware of reports that she had been at his residence several times late at night to meet with his nephew, who Moyer was said to be dating prior to her disappearance, according to court documents.

Roberts – who was a neighbor of Moyer before her disappearance -- answered that he was a single father raising two children, and that no one was meeting at his home for a sexual relationship. Deputies previously contacted Moyer’s husband who said they had a friendly separation two years before her disappearance with a custody plan for their two children.

Roberts said he was pleasant with Moyer at work – they both were employed by the Department of Ecology – and that they’d sometimes leave and arrive from work around the same time. Roberts said she was never at his house.

In January 2014, a detective interviewed a former girlfriend of Roberts who said he was like Jekyll and Hyde when he drank alcohol and that he had “choked her out” at one point. In a separate incident, Roberts was arrested for domestic violence against her.

The girlfriend also said that when her mother asked Roberts about Moyer’s disappearance he appeared to get upset and said, “What are you, the f***ing police!”

The girlfriend told deputies that during sex, Roberts would choke her to the point she’d have to rip his hands from her throat and scratch to make him stop.

The girlfriend told deputies Roberts had a large concrete pad at the rear of his property where he planned to build a fort for his son or a man cave. That sounded odd to her – there were no utilities running to that part of the property.

An informant who was familiar with Roberts and his property told deputies that Roberts made an odd concrete structure on his property after Moyer’s disappearance. The informant did not think it looked to be for a tree house, as the informant was told.

After the concrete slab was poured, there were no more parties or camping on Roberts’ property, investigators were told.

The informant told deputies that Roberts claimed he had a sexual relationship with Moyer – something he denied to investigators in 2009.

In late 2018 and early 2019, Moyer's case garnered national attention when it was featured in the true crime podcast "Hide and Seek" and TV shows.

On July 9, Roberts called a 911 dispatcher to confess to killing Moyer, deputies said.

“Roberts stated that he felt tired of holding it inside,” according to a probable cause document. “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.’”

Deputies said Roberts identified himself by his full name and date of birth, gave his address, and told the dispatcher, “I don’t think anyone will be able to find her.”

A detective said Robert was visibly upset when the detective met with him. Court documents show that while standing on the front porch, Roberts admitted killing Moyer and leaving her “in the hills.” Roberts allegedly offered to provide a recorded statement, which they did in a sheriff’s office patrol vehicle.

“I killed her,” deputies said Roberts told them in the recording. Roberts claimed Moyer attacked her and that “I just reacted,” according to investigators. The recording was emotional, and Roberts had difficulty speaking. Deputies said he mentioned it possibly happened near the Chehalis River.

Detectives said Roberts was clenching his jaw and told them multiple times “I killed her.” Roberts allegedly admitted a sexual relationship, but investigators said he didn’t tell them specifically where to find her body.

The recording was nearly 34 minutes.

Detectives continued talking without a recording, and at that point they said Roberts’ muscles seemed more relaxed. They said he changed his story to say he killed Moyer at his house.

Deputies said Moyer told them he accidentally strangled her during sex.

“I didn’t mean for it to happen,” Roberts said, according to a detective. “It wasn’t supposed to happen.”

The detective said Roberts freaked out. He asked if Roberts wanted to take a walk, and deputies said Roberts led the detective to the large concrete fire pit on his property.

He just stood there, saying nothing initially. Then deputies said he pointed to the fire pit.

“I don’t really want to incriminate myself any further,” Roberts said, according to investigators, “but if I was going to get rid of a body on my property, it would be right there.”

Roberts told a detective he burned the scarf he strangled Moyer with because it disgusted him, but said the rest of her clothes were in his basement, according to the probable cause document. Deputies received a search warrant for Roberts’ property and used an excavator to dig into a wooded area.

A day later, Roberts recanted his statements about killing Moyer in a follow-up interview.

The $1.5 million bail was set at Roberts’ Thursday afternoon bail hearing.

He remains held in the Thurston County Jail for investigation of second-degree murder.

Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza gave reporters an update on the case on Thursday. Watch the news conference below. 

Moyer's family also spoke out about the new developments. Watch it below.

Hide and Seek” podcast host Jay Basinger talks about the new developments on the case of missing Tenino mother Nancy Boyer. 

More news from KIRO 7


Comments on this article