When James Baysinger started the drive from Kennewick to Rochester on Wednesday, he wasn’t sure what he would find. He’d responded to other leads over the course of his production of a podcast investigating the 2009 disappearance of Tenino resident Nancy Moyer that didn’t pan out.
Baysinger arrived in Rochester to find a literal dead end — the road ahead of him had been closed by the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office while investigators searched every inch of 16546 Sheldon Lane Southwest. The property’s owner, Eric Lee Roberts reportedly called 911 the day before to confess to killing Moyer a decade ago.
After failing to find a way past the roadblock to obtain more information from law enforcement, Baysinger and a Chronicle reporter received permission from the owner of an adjacent property to use his ladders to climb the side of a barn in hopes of getting a better look. It was clear at that point that this was more than a shot in the dark, and that Baysinger’s podcast — Hide and Seek — had likely played some role in Roberts deciding to come forward.
“It’s kind of a glass half-full and glass half-empty situation at the same time,” Baysinger said. “One the one hand, you’re wondering if this is the real deal and if, after more than a year spent investigating and talking to people for the podcast, chasing all sorts of leads, this is the big break. On the other hand, you’re definitely aware that there are people, family members who have had to deal with the heartbreak of losing (Moyer) for so long, and it’s going to be hard for them, even if they finally get answers about what happened.
Baysinger is reluctant to claim credit for Roberts’ arrest on suspicion of second-degree murder. It was a collaborative effort between many people, including residents of South Thurston County who assisted Baysinger’s efforts and the listeners of Hide and Seek.
Having been in contact with detectives and other parties close to the case while producing the podcast, Baysinger said he received a tip about Roberts’ involvement in January, but chose not to pursue it at the time for fear of fouling up a potential criminal investigation.
“I have (Roberts’) phone number, and he knew that I had his number,” Baysinger said.
Baysinger’s humility hasn’t stopped others from praising his efforts. Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza and Tenino Mayor Wayne Fournier have stated that attention paid to the case by Hide and Seek and other wide-reaching media sources had an impact on the case.
Samantha Moyer, who was 9 years old when her mother disappeared, has worked closely with Baysinger on Hide and Seek. She said Thursday that she felt like “people wouldn’t have started coming forward if not for the podcast.” Her father Bill Moyer had similar feelings about recent media attention on the case, including when it was featured in 2018 on Investigation Discovery.
“It has focused a lot more attention on the case than I think has been focused on it in a great many years,” Bill Moyer said.
With the case now firmly in the hands of the judicial system, Baysinger said he’s likely to take a step back from the investigative nature of the podcast, at least for the time being. He plans to continue following and reporting on new developments as they are made public by law enforcement our court proceedings.
“I want to see this through to the end,” Baysinger said. “If it turns out that Roberts is the one who did it, I’ll be there. If he didn’t, then I’ll have to roll up my sleeves and get back to work.”