A potential major break in the decade-old disappearance of Nancy Moyer emerged Thursday after her former neighbor and coworker allegedly confessed to killing her, according to court documents.
But as investigators searched his property near Tenino, he took it back.
Eric Lee Roberts, 53, allegedly called 911 Tuesday and said he wanted to confess to a murder, according to charging documents. Roberts told the dispatcher he killed Moyer 10 years ago and felt “tired of holding it inside,” according to court documents.
Roberts allegedly told a detective multiple times that he killed her, according to charging documents, adding later that he strangled her with a scarf during “rough sex” and that he didn’t mean for it to happen.
But on Wednesday, as investigators began searching his property, Roberts allegedly recanted his statements.
“Roberts said he did not know why he said that he had killed Nancy Moyer,” according to charging documents.
Roberts appeared in Thurston County Superior Court on Thursday, where Commissioner Nathan Kortokrax found probable cause for the charge of second-degree murder and set bail at $1.5 million.
Prosecutors had requested $2 million bail, arguing Roberts was a flight risk. They also said Roberts had a history of substance abuse and mental illness.
Kortokrax also ordered Roberts to surrender any weapons he had.
At a press conference earlier in the day, Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza said Roberts is Moyer’s former neighbor and coworker at the state Department of Ecology. A spokeswoman for Department of Ecology said Roberts worked there for more than a decade as a facility planner until January 2014.
Moyer worked there as a fiscal analyst from 1996 until she disappeared.
Snaza said evidence recovered from Roberts’ property on Sheldon Lane Southwest outside Tenino was being sent to the state’s crime lab.
Moyer was reported missing March 7, 2009 after her estranged husband went to drop off their two children at her home near Tenino but she wasn’t there.
The Sheriff’s Office took over the case four days later. No arrests were made in the years since then and Moyer’s body was never found. She is presumed dead.
“Over the years, this case has gone very cold,” Snaza said at the press conference.
Roberts’ arraignment was scheduled for July 23.