Man arrested in connection with Moyer disappearance now in court on weapons violations

A man arrested in connection with the 2009 disappearance of Nancy Moyer appeared in court Tuesday, this time on weapons charges unrelated to the Moyer investigation. Prosecutors announced Monday they wouldn’t yet be pursuing charges in the Moyer case.

Eric L. Roberts, 53, was arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder last week. Roberts allegedly called 911 and confessed to murdering Moyer, then later recanted his statements, according to court documents.

Moyer was reported missing in 2009. Her body has not been found, but she is presumed dead. Roberts was Moyer’s former neighbor and coworker at the state Department of Ecology, according to Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza.

Thurston County prosecutors announced Monday they will hold off filing any charges regarding the homicide investigation “until the investigation is complete and all evidence can be fully considered.”

Court documents show that bail and conditions for release for Roberts were set to expire at 5 p.m. Monday, meaning he would have been able to walk out of the jail at that point. But Roberts was arrested on alleged weapons violations before that could happen.

Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Jeffery Lippert told The Olympian Roberts never left the jail.

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On Tuesday, Thurston County Superior Court Judge John Skinder found probable cause for charges of unlawful possession of dangerous weapons and unlawful possession of a short firearm. He set bail for Roberts at $100,000.

Detectives began searching Roberts’ property near Tenino for evidence related to the Moyer case last week.

The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office found “multiple firearms in plain view” at Roberts’ property and took the firearms into safekeeping at the Sheriff’s Office, according to court documents. The documents mention two weapons found that are prohibited by state law.

A press release from the county prosecutor’s office mentions the firearms also violate federal law.

One of the illegal weapons is described as a small pistol with what appeared to be a suppressor, which had “no markings or serial number.” The other is described as a short-barreled rifle that’s prohibited by state law without the proper paperwork, which the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office does not have on file for Roberts.

“We likely would have charged him with these crimes at some point,” Lippert told The Olympian. “And we chose to do it now because we had good, solid evidence of it at this point.”

Lippert called it “a coincidence” that the weapons case will keep Roberts in jail as the investigation into his role in the Moyer case continues. Lippert did not comment when The Olympian asked whether Roberts would ultimately be charged in that investigation.

“At this point, there was not enough evidence to corroborate his statement in a way that satisfied the rule of evidence,” Lippert said. But he said evidence is being sifted through and processed.

According to court documents, Roberts told detectives last week that Moyer’s clothing was still in his basement.

Sara Gentzler joined The Olympian in June 2019. She primarily covers Thurston County government and its courts, as well as breaking news. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Creighton University.