Editor's Note: This story will be updated after a press release by John Snaza at 11 a.m.
Neighbors weren’t sure initially sure what was going on as they watched Thurston County law enforcement set up roadblocks and begin searching a house in the 16500 block of Sheldon Lane Southwest in South Thurston County Wednesday.
Word soon spread about an ongoing investigation — a big one. The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office announced Wednesday afternoon it had received new information related to the 2009 disappearance of Nancy Moyer from Tenino, and that the search on the property near Tenino was related to that investigation.
Authorities have not confirmed a connection between the Moyer case and the Wednesday arrest of Eric Lee Roberts, listed as the owner of a property at 16546 Sheldon Lane Southwest by the Thurston County Assessor’s Office, on suspicion of second-degree murder, but are scheduled to hold a press conference at 11 a.m. today.
Befuddled residents returned home from work Wednesday to encounter a manned barrier preventing anyone who could not prove residency from turning onto the street.
The TCSO has not released details as to what led to the arrest or to the search of the property. That hasn’t stopped local officials from being cautiously optimistic that Wednesday marked the beginning of the end of a decade-long saga for Southwest Thurston County.
“I think everybody has mixed feelings,” Tenino Mayor Wayne Fournier said. “On the one hand, it’s this massive tragedy that hurt an entire family and on the other hand, it’s been 10 years wondering about this mystery and wanting to know what happened to her, what the story was and why. With the possibility that as a community we could possibly get answers and get closure, I think everybody is happy there are some answers to come out. At the same time, there’s no denying this is a huge tragedy for the community.”
Moyer lived in Tenino at the time of her disappearance, having recently separated from her husband, Bill Moyer. Foul play was suspected in her disappearance, but no suspects were ever taken into custody and police said Bill Moyer was not a suspect.
Roberts bought his Sheldon Lane Southwest property in 2004, but was not well known by many of his neighbors. According to the assessor’s office, Roberts lived down the street from property Bill and Nancy Moyer purchased in 2003. Nancy had been missing for nearly four years when the Moyer family sold the property in 2013.
Scott Douglas, whose land on Old Dirt Lane SW shares a property line with Roberts, said he didn’t know much about Roberts or anyone else who lived there, but saw people with shovels on the property late Wednesday morning. Bill Doss, who has lived next to Roberts for 11 years, said he didn’t know anything about him other than that he could hear what sounded like partying on Roberts’ property from time to time.
Doss added that he could still hear law enforcement activity taking place next door Thursday morning, but couldn’t see much through the thicket of trees and brush along the property line. Officers and deputies haven’t shared any information with Doss or other neighbors of Roberts.
“He came over once to ask my son-in-law to cut down some bushes,” Doss said. “I talked to his son when we first moved in here, but then the son left. I saw him just about a week ago riding his motorcycle or something around the property. It makes us a little nervous. What I hope is that they can find out what happened to (Moyer) so that there will be closure for her kids, but other than that, I have no clue. We don’t really associate with any of the people we live by, either.”
As everyone waits for the TCSO to release more information, Fournier encouraged members of the community to continue speaking with each other and to share any information they have related to the case with law enforcement.
“You never know what little bit could be helpful at these junctures,” Fournier said. “I think it’s also important that everyone continues to support the family that’s gone through all this, and Tenino is really good about that.”