Missing woman's case turns toward Tenino murder suspect



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Posted on August 11, 2010 at 10:48 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 11 at 11:29 PM

LACEY, Wash. - Friends of a missing woman are finding new hope and fear in the arrest of a young Tenino man accused of a brutal murder. Police are now investigating if Bernard K. Howell was involved in the almost 2-year-old disappearance of Nancy Moyer.

"This not knowing, this void, it kills you. It's a wound that never heals," says Bev Poston. Both Poston and Kim Collins work at the Department of Ecology with Moyer.

"People would come up to you, in the bathroom and the hallways, 'Have you heard anything? Any news?'" says Collins.

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The two of them have taken part in countless searches for their friend. The 36-year-old mother of two disappeared from her Tenino home in march 2009.

"She had a glass of wine on the table she had her TV on," says Poston. "She probably went outside to have a cigarette. She never smoked in her house or maybe someone came to the door."

Her home is just a mile away from the home of 26-year-old Howell, who was arrested Sunday after a woman's body was found in his truck. Police say it seems to be a random murder. Howell used the truck to sell meat door-to-door.

"My mouth just fell open," says Collins. "I went 'Oh my. Is this a possibility. Could this really be the person?'"

"This woman had apparently been attacked on the Chehalis Western Trail which was real close to Nancy's house and we had been on the trail many times searching for her," says Poston.

Detectives say there is no concrete evidence tying Howell to the Moyer case, but there are too many coincidences not to investigate.

Collins says it's hard not to imagine the worst.

"I could see this person going up to the door meeting Nancy on the front porch and saying 'Hey, it's the end of my shift. I have a great deal on hamburger or steaks. Come on over to my truck I'll show you.' Hit her on the head throw her in," she imagines.

Now they just hope for closure.

"Her friends her family, they have a right to know what happened to her and she deserves the dignity and respect of being brought back home," says Poston.