Photo courtesy of The Charley Project
Her unsolved case will be studied by Crime Con’s Executive Producer’s Crowd Solve event. Can a group of armchair sleuths join seasoned investigators to solve this decade-old mystery? What happened to Nancy Moyer?
It’s a cold night in Washington state, and an exhausted single mother heads home from work. Nancy Moyer, 36 takes a coworker home before stopping by the store to pick up a few groceries before heading home. Although the young brunette had been going out occasionally on the weekends, this time she planned to stay at home.
Moyer and her husband, Bill, had separated two years earlier but worked diligently to maintain a good relationship for the sake of their two daughters. Nancy would have the girls throughout the week, and Bill would take them on the weekends. Both parents were always eager to see the girls and never missed a pickup time. That would all change on Friday, March 6, 2009.
Bill pulled up in front of his estranged wife’s home and noticed the door standing open. He found it odd but thought perhaps she stepped out and would return quickly. The man and his daughters walked in the open door and called for Nancy, but she didn’t respond. They waited a little while but soon left. Bill took the girls back home and returned later expecting to see Nancy, but she was nowhere to be found. It was time to call the police.
Police would find not only was the door left open, but a half glass of wine sat on the coffee table, and Nancy’s purse was still in the house. She wouldn’t leave without it or her car, which was still parked out front. Investigators work to establish a timeline in hopes of finding a clue to Nancy’s disappearance. She dropped off the coworker around 6 pm and then went to the store. A police officer was parked down the street running radar not far from the young woman’s home. He later recalled seeing her at home around 9:30 pm unloading groceries from her car. No one knows what happened next.
Tenino, Washington was a small town in Thurston County with a population around 1,600 in 2009. It wasn’t the kind of place where women go missing, but the town would be shocked when a traveling meat salesman is arrested for driving around with a warm corpse in his truck. Yes, you read that right.
Bernard Keith Howell III, 26 was arrested in August 2010 with a still-warm corpse in his truck. Vanda Boone, 60 was discovered wrapped in plastic and a sleeping bag riding around in this traveling meat salesman’s truck! At one point Howell stopped some random stranger and asked him to help him dispose of a body. Of course, the man refused and flagged down a police officer. Howell was apprehended near the Parkside Elementary School in Tenino. Howell claimed to have found the deceased Ms. Boone on the Yelm-Tenino trail and wanted to bury her himself to save the family from having to pay funeral expenses. Howell eventually confessed and received 30 years in prison.
How does Bernard Howell tie to the Nancy Moyer case?
Howell lived less than a mile from Nancy, and while the police were searching her home for clues, they came across some meat in her freezer that had Howell’s label. It isn’t clear if Howell worked for a company or had his own business, but the meat clearly tied him to Moyer. To make sure, the investigators showed her daughters a picture of Howell and asked them if they had seen him before. They said yes. Howell has been entirely uncooperative with police and refuses to admit that he’s ever seen, Nancy Moyer. Could this deranged door to door meat salesman be the answer to this cold case? Hold on there’s more.
Ten years pass, and it looks like the case will never be solved. The girls grow up without their mother and face all the hardships; only a victim’s family member could understand. Then in July 2019, a podcast host decides to dive into this cold case for his Hide and Seek podcast. His work brings the case back into the public eye, and it looked like it may have put the heat on the murderer.
A neighbor and coworker named Eric Roberts calls 9-1-1 and admits to killing Nancy Moyer during a rough sex act. He is promptly arrested but recants his confession almost immediately. Officials hold the man and search his property for two days but can’t find enough evidence to charge him with murder. Where is Nancy’s body?
Desperate to keep a hold of their man they re-arrest him on weapons charges when they find an illegal firearm in his home. Those charges would be eventually dropped, however when they discover the weapon was indeed legal. For now, it seems they lost their man. Eric Roberts walks free, and the case is still unsolved.
If you have any information on this case, please contact:
Thurston County Sheriff’s Office 360-786-5279
THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. SYNOVA STRIVES TO CITE ALL THE SOURCES USED DURING HER CASE STUDY, BUT OCCASIONALLY A SOURCE MAY BE MISSED BY MISTAKE. IT IS NOT INTENTIONAL, AND NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED.
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