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Husband in Oregon cold case allegedly murdered his wife because she wanted to leave him

Randal "Randy" McEvers claimed that his wife Nancy McEvers (pictured here) died by suicide, but investigators determined that she did not, authorities said. (Images: Washington County Sheriff's Office)

Randal “Randy” McEvers claimed that his wife Nancy McEvers (pictured here) died by suicide, but investigators determined that she did not, authorities said. (Images: Washington County Sheriff’s Office)

The suspect in his wife’s shooting death allegedly did it because she wanted to leave him.

“Detectives in 1983 had learned from multiple sources Randy was planning on killing Nancy for wanting a separation and divorce,” current lead investigator Detective Anel Cerić wrote in an email to Law&Crime.

Suspect Randal “Randy” McEvers, then 30, had called 911 back on Jan. 2, 1983 to say his wife Nancy McEvers née Pepper, 28, died by suicide, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon previously said. Deputies arrived to find the victim shot in the head, and EMS took her to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Only the couple and their 1-year-old son had been home during the incident, authorities said.

The husband told two different stories when deputies initially responded, Cerić told Law&Crime.

“First version was that there was a struggle over the gun and that he was unsure who pulled the trigger,” the detective wrote.

The second version is that Randy walked in on Nancy shooting herself, and there was no struggle, he wrote.

Cerić said detectives learned about the motive in 1983 from “the mother of a certain man.” This man was Randy’s co-worker and best friend. The mother called detectives to tell them what he knew about the plan, Cerić wrote.

There was also more information from a man who worked with Nancy.

“It is unknown how he obtained that information since he has since passed away,” Cerić wrote.

Deputies previously said that investigators collected forensic evidence at the time of Nancy’s death, including a gun that was tested. Investigators determined she did not shoot herself after looking at evidence and reviewing her autopsy. According to Cerić, the Oregon State Police Crime Lab estimated the distance between the muzzle and the wound was not consistent for a suicide, confirmed Nancy had no gunshot residue on her hands, and investigators discovered two areas on her clothes, featuring charred particles that would appear if a person was trying to defend themselves, he wrote.

“All those results concluded that the gunshot could not be self-inflicted,” he wrote.

Authorities previously said that by April 1983, Randy McEvers had been refusing to cooperate with authorities. Investigators suspended the case in August 1983. Nancy’s death long went cold until deputies reopened it in August 2022 and developed new leads.

“Over 20 people were interviewed that had knowledge of the incident that were never interviewed in 1983 and should have been,” Cerić told Law&Crime.

They talked to Randy again in January 2023.

In that re-interview, Randy said he went to hypnotherapy to forget that day, though he denied his wife having any prior suicidal ideation, depression, drug or alcohol problems, Cerić told Law&Crime.

As previously reported, the husband died of suicide on Feb. 8. He left a note in which he denied involvement in Nancy’s death, the detective said. Authorities closed the case because their suspect was dead.

It is unclear why detectives in 1983 did not move forward with the case in light of the evidence they had at the time.

“The lead investigator in 1983 is now deceased, so I was unable to speak to him as to why the case was suspended and not investigated further. So are almost all of his superiors and fellow detectives,” Cerić wrote.

Nancy is survived by her son, two sisters, and mother, deputies wrote. The sheriff’s office said they are still open to talking to anyone with information on the couple. Persons with such information can reach deputies at 503-846-2700.

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