Nancy Moyer, 36 at the time, was last seen going into her house in Tenino, Washington on Friday, March 6, 2009. When her estranged husband showed up the following Sunday to drop off their two daughters, she was gone. The front door was open; the TV was on; a half-glass of wine was on the table; the car was in the driveway; and her purse, wallet, cellphone, and keys were inside the house. There was no sign of forced entry or a struggle. She’d simply disappeared without a trace.
This Nancy Moyer wiki looks at her life, family, relationships, strange disappearance, suspects, and the ongoing hunt for the loving mother of two.
|About Nancy Kareen Moyer|
|Birth||November 22, 1972 Olympia, Washington|
|Children||Samantha Moyer, Amanda Moyer|
|Last Seen||6th March, 2009|
Who Is Nancy Moyer?
Born November 22, 1972, Nancy Kareen Moyer grew up in Olympia, Thurston County, Washington, the state’s capital.
Her mom was Sandra Hedlund. She had a sister, Sharon Wilbur.
The vivacious and outgoing Moyer was popular in high school. According to friends, she’s the type of person who can get along with anybody. In fact, everybody seemed to have a story about how kind Nancy Moyer could be.
After graduating from high school, Moyer attended Central Washington University in Ellensburg, 150 miles east of Olympia. There, she studied accounting.
One summer, while interning for an agricultural company, Nancy met Bill Moyer. The two hit it off and soon started dating.
After graduating, Nancy and Bill married in 1996. One year later, Nancy secured a prestigious job as a fiscal analyst with the State Department of Ecology in Lacey, Washington. As she was wont to do, Moyer became fast friends with her colleagues.
It wasn’t long until Moyer became pregnant with her first child, Samantha. She was excited about becoming a mother. Not long afterward, the couple had their second child, Amanda.
According to coworkers, Moyer was living out her dream, with the job and family she had always wanted.
Moyer Marriage Starts to Crumble
As Nancy Moyer’s family grew, so too did her responsibilities at work. By all accounts, Moyer was living the perfect life, but her marriage itself wasn’t ideal.
Marrying young allowed Moyer to start her family right away, but it also had a downside: she didn’t get to do a lot of the wild things kids do when they’re young or in college. The couple slowly started to drift apart. After 11 years of marriage, Bill and Nancy Moyer separated in 2007.
The two never felt the need to get legally divorced. They stayed civil and cooperative for the sake of their two daughters.
Family was Nancy Moyer’s top priority. She wanted her two children to have a mother and father in their lives.
Nancy and Bill worked at making their separation a successful one and the co-parenting worked well. Nancy had the girls during the week and Bill took them on the weekend.
Newly Single Nancy Moyer Spreads Her Wings
After grieving the loss of her marriage, Nancy Moyer began to live a little.
She got a number of tattoos to celebrate her new carefree life: an armband with stars, hearts, and flowers on her right upper arm; a butterfly on her lower back; the words “Doublemint” and “Juicyfruit” with flowers and hearts on her upper back; a hibiscus flower on her left hip; the Playboy bunny on her right hip; and cherries with the letters “A” and “S” on her right foot (presumably in honor of her daughters Amanda and Samantha).
Moreover, Moyer’s custody agreement meant that she could go out on Friday and Saturday nights and live the single life. But because she kept to herself, her friends, family, and husband say they had no idea just how social Nancy had become.
“She was very pretty, very attractive, and very bubbly, effervescent. People would instantly be attracted to her,” said coworker and friend Bev Poston.
“And I know, when you’ve been with one person for most of your life, and then all of a sudden your world changes, and you realize there are other men out there that find you attractive, it’s like, oh my gosh—a whole new world opens up.”
Moyer dipped her newly tattooed foot into the dating pool by going out with colleagues from her office. More confident, she eventually expanded her social circle, meeting new people and experiencing new things.
Friday, March 6, 2009: Last Confirmed Sighting of Nancy Moyer
The last time Nancy Moyer was seen was on Friday, March 6, 2009.
She left work at 5:15 p.m. with her carpool friend and coworker, Matthew Vandrush.
He dropped her off at her home in Tenino, Washington, a small town with a population of about 1,650 located 25 miles south of Olympia. She lived on the 700 block of Washington 507.
She told Matthew that even though Bill had the kids for the weekend, she was looking forward to a relaxing weekend at home.
A short time later, Moyer headed over to the local Thriftway Market, where she bought a bottle of wine and other items. She left the grocery store and drove back home.
At around 6:00 p.m., a Tenino police officer was running radar at the corner where she lived and saw her pull up to her house. She was alone. The officer also saw her get her bags out of the car and take them into the house.
That is the last confirmed sighting of Nancy Moyer, 36.
The evidence shows that Moyer opened up a bottle of wine and settled in. Because she did not have any plans, no one expected to hear from her over the course of the weekend.
That said, a neighbor thinks he might have heard her later that night.
“He heard her car, he heard a car door, and just before the car door closed, she said, ‘Hurry up, let’s get going,’” recalled Thurston County Sheriff’s Office Detective David Haller.
Moyer’s neighbor assumed she was talking to her children and didn’t think anything of it. That is, until she was reported missing two days later.
Sunday, March 8, 2009: Nancy Moyer’s Missing
That Sunday night started out like any other, with Bill Moyer dropping his two daughters off at Nancy’s house. But when he got to her home, something was off.
“I never missed a drop-off or a pick-up, and neither did she,” he said. “So this was 100% out of character for her to be missing, and it just, it felt wrong instantly.”
Despite the chilly March air, Nancy Moyer’s front door was open.
“It wasn’t unusual,” Bill recalled. “She’d walk in the neighborhood sometime. So I took the kids in and we waited for a few minutes, thinking oh, she’d come back from a walk. But she didn’t.”
When his ex didn’t show up, he took the girls back to his house. And returned a little while later to try again.
Still no Nancy.
“So we came back again, but realized that she hadn’t taken her purse or her keys or her cellphone. All the normal things you would expect to take with you are there, still sitting in the house,” said Bill. “I remember a glass of wine was half-drank on the table, and you know, just things were just kind of in their usual places. It was just, it was just like she just vanished.”
Alarmed, Bill began calling Nancy’s friends and coworkers. No one had seen her or knew where she was.
Knowing Nancy Moyer would never miss meeting her kids on a Sunday night, Bill filed a missing person’s report with the local police. The next day, the case was turned over to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, specifically to now-retired Detective David Haller.
Thurston County Sheriff’s Office Investigates
When Thurston County sheriffs arrived at Nancy Moyer’s home, they found it just the way Bill did: the front door was open, the TV was left on, there was a half-glass of wine on the coffee table, and the lamp on her bedside table was on.
Moyer’s car, a white Honda “Civic Del Sol,” was parked in the driveway.
Her purse, wallet, cell phone, and keys were inside the home.
Police conducted an extensive search of the home and found no signs of a break-in or struggle. What’s more, Nancy Moyer’s credit cards and bank accounts had not been used.
What police determined early on was that Moyer had disappeared between 11:30 p.m. and 12:00 a.m. on Saturday. It was a cold night and the front door of the house was open, so police checked the utility bill. They could see when the gas heat in the house had spiked.
They fingerprinted the two glasses of wine found on the coffee table; the only prints they found belonged to Nancy Moyer. Investigators remain curious as to who this second glass was intended for. Did Moyer have a guest that Friday night, or was she expecting one?
Police also discovered the receipt from the grocery store she went to that Friday night. When they contacted the store, no one remembered if Moyer was by herself or if she was followed to her car. The store did not have any surveillance cameras.
It’s as if Nancy Moyer had just decided to vanish. But her family says she would never leave and abandon her daughters of her own free will.
Did Nancy Moyer Pick up and Leave Her Life Behind?
Is it possible Nancy Moyer’s friends and family didn’t know her as well as they thought they did, and that maybe she did just pick up and leave her life behind?
Investigators discovered that Moyer was saddled with more than $50,000 in debt. Police went through her bills to see if there were any clues, but all they found were typical purchases like everyday shopping expenses and restaurant bills—nothing to indicate she was going to flee.
And was that enough of a motive for her to run away? Detectives looked at that possibility, but they decided it just didn’t add up.
Friends and family were not aware of any personal problems she was having at the time of her disappearance. She was not dependent on drugs or alcohol. There was no mental illness that could explain why she disappeared. As far as anyone knew, she didn’t have a particular boyfriend, though she’d been dating on and off.
Having worked for the Department of Ecology for 12 years, Moyer was considered very reliable and responsible. She wouldn’t miss work or be late without letting her employers know.
“She left her purse. What gal leaves their purse when they go somewhere? There was a lot of things that the evidence showed that’s inconsistent with her up and leaving,” said Thurston County Detective Ben Elkins. “She wouldn’t have just left her kids. I think someone killed her, is my belief.”
Unfortunately, the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office doesn’t have a dedicated cold-case unit. However, it does assign unsolved cases to detectives to work on when they have spare time.
“I know that particular case has been through three different detectives,” said Sergeant Tim Rudloff of the Sheriff’s Office Investigative Services Division. “We always try to keep fresh eyes looking at it.”
Despite these efforts, police have not been able to locate Nancy Moyer. They believe she is the victim of foul play.
Thurston County Sheriff’s Office Considers Suspects
So, if it was foul play, who were the suspects?
With clues hard to come by, police quickly turned their attention to Moyer’s estranged husband Bill.
“I kind of know how it works. Statistically the husband’s always the suspect number one, but also I saw it as an opportunity to clear my name very quickly,” Bill said.
Bill took a polygraph test and passed with flying colors. Police even went on TV and said he was not a suspect.
Several other men who had been seen with Nancy Moyer were cleared. That said, investigators discovered a number of relationships Nancy had been keeping quiet about; this, according to police, made it difficult to find potential suspects.
William, a Man She Met at a Bar
According to her sister Sharon, Nancy said she’d gone out on one or more dates with a man she’d met at a local bar.
Police found out that this man was named William. They also discovered a concerning fact: William was a sex offender.
However, when they interviewed him, investigators found that he had a solid alibi. William also told them he’d been the one to end the dating relationship with Nancy. So there was no ill will on his side. He was cleared as a suspect.
Jim Roth, a Coworker
Police was interested in interviewing one of Nancy Moyer’s coworkers. While investigating the disappearance of Moyer, they listened to two messages left on her answering machine from a man named Jim, one asking if she wanted to go out on Saturday.
Did Jim have a date with Moyer on Saturday? Did he see her? None of her family recognized the caller’s name—further evidence that Moyer had a dating life that she kept quiet from family and friends. One rule she stuck to, though, was never bringing anyone back to her house.
The coworker, whose full name is Jim Roth, said he had previously gone out with Moyer a few times, once as recently as a few weeks before.
He mentioned how, on one occasion, Moyer went over to his apartment, but when they tried to have sex, he couldn’t perform. However, Moyer did spend the night and the two of them had breakfast the next morning.
As for their date on Saturday, March 7, Moyer never called back to confirm. Roth claimed he was concerned about the fact that she never called back. He went over to Moyer’s house that Saturday night to pop in and make sure she was okay.
Roth said he saw the front door ajar, let himself in, and called out for Moyer. Not hearing anything, he decided to investigate, making his way through the house to Moyer’s bedroom. Not finding her, Roth left.
While his alibi for that Friday night checked out, Roth’s kids said he was home all night, making police suspicious.
Authorities weren’t able to interview the children as their mother, who Roth was separated from, refused police requests. Had they been able to interview the children in the presence of their parents, they could have gotten a read on their responses and body language.
Without being able to interview the children, police still had a number of questions: is it possible that Roth put his children to bed that Friday night and snuck out of the house?
As for his visit to Moyer’s house on Saturday, police wondered why Roth walked into her house, a place where he had never been before, and snooped around. Did he make up the story about being in the house to cover his tracks? Was he afraid police would find his fingerprints or other evidence at the scene?
Roth also took a polygraph test; the results came back inconclusive. His vital signs were highly elevated; his answers to even the most basic questions came back as lies.
The polygraph results ended up being useless. Police found Roth’s behavior to be extremely odd, but they could not connect him to Moyer’s disappearance. Neither his fingerprints nor DNA was found at the house, nor did they have enough evidence to get a search warrant for his car.
When the still-suspicious police re-interviewed Roth four years later, his story had changed significantly. This time around, Roth claimed he and Moyer had in fact had sex on one occasion.
Despite their supposed sexual tryst, Roth did not recall any of Moyer’s tattoos, some of which were on intimate areas of her body. This made police question whether Nancy Moyer and Jim Roth had ever had sex at all.
It’s also possible that the infatuated Roth imagined the entire relationship, perhaps after being rejected. Moreover, Roth now claimed that, after sex, Moyer did not spend the night and the two did not have breakfast together.
This certainly seems suspicious. Either Roth forgot what he had originally told police or he’s been lying since day one.
On top of that, Roth went on to claim that he went to Moyer’s on Friday night—the day she was last seen—and not on the Saturday, as he had stated previously.
Despite these inconsistencies, police didn’t have enough evidence to go on and Roth was not keen on taking another polygraph test either. As a result, Roth has not been officially named a suspect in the disappearance of Nancy Moyer.
Bernard Howell, Convicted Murderer
Just because police do not have a body doesn’t mean they don’t have other potential suspects. A gruesome murder in Tenino, Washington led police to another person of interest.
Lieutenant Greg Elwin of the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office said Bernard Howell is considered a “person of interest” in the disappearance of Nancy Moyer from her Tenino home in March 2009.
In August 2010, Howell, 27, a local man who sold meat door-to-door, was caught riding around in his delivery truck with a dead woman, Vonda Boone, 60, wrapped in a sleeping bag in the passenger seat. Her body was still warm.
Howell denied killing Boone. According to Howell, he found Boone dead on a trail and decided it would better if he just disposed of her body himself, thereby saving the woman’s family “the $5,000 it would cost to bury her.”
Unsurprisingly, police were not so sure his story was true.
Moments before police pulled Howell over, he had approached a man in a pickup truck and asked for help moving a body. The man declined Howell’s request and instead flagged down a sheriff’s deputy.
Initially, Howell told police he did not murder Boone, but he did admit to having sex with the corpse.
But even that still wasn’t the full story. In Howell’s pickup truck, detectives found plastic bags, zip ties, bungee elastic cords, and a 10-pound weight.
It later emerged that Howell had snuck up on Boone while she was walking or riding a bike on the Yelm-Tenino Trail, hit her over the back of the head with a hammer, dragged her into a ditch, slit her throat, and killed her. He then had sex with the body, wrapped her up in a sleeping bag, put her in his truck, and started driving.
Howell was initially found to be incompetent to stand trial. After being treated at Western State Hospital, he was judged to be competent enough. In March 2011, Howell pleaded guilty to killing Boone and was sentenced to 26 years and eight months in prison.
Police soon began to question whether Howell could be linked to Nancy Moyer’s strange disappearance. After all, in a small town like Tenino, a gruesome murder taking place just 18 months after another woman goes missing is a little out of the ordinary. And Howell lived with his father in a home less than a mile from Moyer’s place.
There is another possible connection: in Moyer’s refrigerator, police found meat that had come from Howell.
Detectives interviewed the incarcerated Howell and asked him about Nancy Moyer. They told him that meat he had sold was found in her freezer. Howell denied ever meeting Nancy Moyer or being at her house.
Detectives showed Moyer’s two daughters, Samantha and Amanda, photos of possible suspects. Samantha said she recognized the image of Howell.
“He just absolutely refused to cooperate in any way. No polygraph, wasn’t going to give any statements, denied ever selling her meat, denied ever knowing her,” said Haller. “Just in all of that just kind of run the red flag up even more ’cause I know he was there.”
Detective Elkins has not been able to bring charges against Howell or even interview him again.
“I would like to at least talk to him and see if he will talk to me, and if he does, obviously I want to interview him,” Elkins said.
May 2017: Case Reclassified as a “No-Body Homicide”
To add resources to the investigation into the missing Nancy Moyer, police reclassified the case from a missing person investigation to a “no-body homicide.”
Classifying a case as an unsolved homicide means getting additional resources, including travel and the ability to work with state and federal entities outside of Thurston County’s jurisdiction.
Is it too little, too late? On June 15, 2017, Jim Roth died of natural causes. Roth always maintained he had nothing to do with the disappearance of Nancy Moyer.
Despite evidence to the contrary, Bernard Howell still claims he never met Moyer.
If you have information on the case, contact the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office at (360) 786-5279.