A “CrowdSolve” event in Seattle this week will let upwards of 250 true-crime enthusiasts dig into the files of two decade-old Thurston County cases: The death of Karen Bodine and the disappearance of Nancy Moyer.
The Bodine case has seen little public progress since Karen’s body was discovered in 2007. The Moyer case, though, recently warmed up after sitting cold for 10 years.
The event’s organizer, victims’ families, and law enforcement hope to see more than entertainment come of the four-day convention that started Thursday.
Update: Bodine Cold Case
A passing motorist found the body of Bodine, 37, in an old gravel quarry area along Littlerock Road in Rochester one morning in January 2007, according to Olympian archives.
Detectives gathered evidence and marked an area where tire tracks led to Bodine’s body. A resident at the crime scene told The Olympian his wife had seen a “little early ‘80s Datsun” that looked abandoned at the quarry entrance that morning.
Investigators said Bodine died of “homicidal trauma” and that there were “markings” on her body, according to the archives.
The Olympian reported in 2014 that detectives reopened the case after new information surfaced.
According to Lt. Ray Brady with the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, the department is still “moving forward” on the case, but no arrests have been made.
“There’s definitely some area to make some headway on that case,” Brady said.
Moyer: A Not-So-Cold Case
Nancy Moyer was also a mother in her 30s when she disappeared from her Tenino home.
One of Moyer’s co-workers at the state Department of Ecology dropped Moyer off at her home at about 5:15 p.m. March 6, 2009, according to Olympian archives.
When her estranged husband went to drop off their two children at Moyer’s home the next day, the front door was ajar, the television was on and a glass of red wine was on a coffee table in the living room. But Moyer wasn’t there.
Moyer is presumed dead, though her body was never found. Investigators determined foul play was involved.
The case recently became active again, after Eric L. Roberts allegedly confessed to killing Moyer.
Roberts’ confession led to the search of his home near Tenino; Sheriff John Snaza said at a press conference that evidence recovered there was sent to the Washington State Patrol crime lab.
The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office arrested Roberts and he appeared in court July 11 on suspicion of second-degree murder, but prosecutors haven’t filed charges.
After a series of court appearances for other charges, Roberts was ultimately released. He later told James Baysinger, creator of the Hide and Seek podcast dedicated to the Moyer case, he didn’t remember confessing.
Lt. Brady told The Olympian this week that initial items sent to the lab for testing were expedited and have been returned. But, there’s no firm timeline for the return of other items.
None of the developments in the case since July will be discussed at the CrowdSolve event, Brady said.
The CrowdSolve Process
The event, which runs Thursday through Sunday, is organized by case: Thursday features a behind-the-scenes look at the Hide and Seek podcast, Friday is mostly about the Moyer case, and Saturday and Sunday focus on the Bodine case.
Featured guests include Det. Mickey Hamilton from the Sheriff’s Office, a medical investigator, a retired U.S. Marshal, and a police surgeon, according to the event’s website.
Experts will provide what CrowdSolve founder Kevin Balfe referred to as “101 sessions.” Then, attendees will apply what they learned to pieces of the case files in break-out sessions with specific experts before presenting their findings.
When asked whether including the experts was a way to make sure these days were more productive than voyeuristic, Balfe confirmed that was accurate.
Balfe said he wants to give the Sheriff’s Office a report that reflects the consensus of most attendees.
“My benchmark is not that we come out Sunday and tell Thurston County ‘Your killer is in this envelope,’” Balfe said. “... But if detectives are excited about new leads and ideas...we can connect them with the experts.”
The hopes of law enforcement and family members
Lt. Ray Brady told The Olympian it’s always a “balancing act” of releasing information for potential benefit versus providing too much information that could jeopardize something only a suspect or witness may know.
In a cold case like Moyer’s, though, he said all conventional leads were pursued.
“We don’t want to underestimate the value of having various experts in the field look at it,” Brady said.
Bill Moyer, Nancy’s estranged husband, told The Olympian he and his daughter Samantha will be at the event. He said they found the CrowdSolve idea intriguing and saw it as an opportunity to try something that’s “kind of groundbreaking.”
Taylor Bodine, Karen’s daughter, said she and her siblings and aunt will be there as well. She told The Olympian she’s excited, it feels like it’s been a long time coming, and that she felt her mother’s death didn’t get as much attention as she deserves. The event, she said, is also a chance to validate who her mother was as a person.
“It’s brought a new sense of hope,” Taylor Bodine said.
In the end, Lt. Brady, Bill Moyer, and Taylor Bodine all confirmed closure was part of a desired outcome.
“The risk is releasing too much information, but the reward is providing closure to a family that’s been suffering this for 10 years and bringing someone to justice,” Brady said.