South Sound News

Man arrested in Tenino mother's cold case murder set free

A man who was arrested last week in the killing of a Tenino woman 10 years ago has been released by federal authorities after they dropped federal gun charges.

Lt. Ray Brady with the Thurston County Sheriff's Office told The Olympian that Eric Roberts is "free."

Roberts, 53, was at first held in the Thurston County Jail for investigation of second-degree murder in the death of former neighbor Nancy Moyer in 2009.

The Sheriff's Office said Roberts confessed to murdering Moyer last week.  Documents said he told investigators the two had a sexual relationship and that he accidentally strangled her.

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

But as investigators began searching his property south of Olympia the next day, Roberts recanted those statements, documents said.

By Monday, Thurston County prosecutors said any charges related to Moyer’s death would not be filed until the investigation was complete.  Without being charged, Roberts could no longer be held past 5 p.m. that day, the Olympian said.

But before he was able to leave the Thurston County Jail, Roberts was arrested on federal weapons violations for firearms police said they found during a search of his home in relation to the Moyer case last week.

Roberts was held at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac.

No charges yet for man who confessed to cold case killing and recanted

According to the Olympian, a criminal complaint was filed Tuesday against Roberts alleging possession of an unregistered National Firearms Act weapon.

But on Thursday, U.S. Attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, saying the gun in question did not necessarily meet the legal definition for that charge.

Roberts was released from federal custody.

Charges in the Moyer case could still be filed against Roberts as the investigation continues.

Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza gave reporters an update on the case on July 11. Watch the news conference below. 

More news from KIRO 7