PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A family now has answers to the death of 28-year-old Nancy McEvers after Washington County cold case investigators reopened her case nearly 40 years later.

For four decades, McEvers’ family thought she was killed in an accidental shooting after it was first reported as a suicide. They didn’t imagine that late last summer, her case would be reopened by cold case detectives with a much different outcome.

McEvers died on Jan. 2, 1983. Her husband, Randy McEvers, was home with Nancy and their 1-year-old son when he called 911 to say she had shot herself. Detectives later found out it was not self-inflicted.

“We grieved for Nancy many, many years ago,” said Janet Eglitis, Nancy’s sister. “For so many people, they thought it was a suicide, but we knew it never was. We always thought it was a terrible accident, but we had no information to tell us anything different.”

At the time, her family was told there was no evidence of foul play or leads, so they had no idea her case remained open until Washington County Violent Crimes Unit detectives re-examined the cold case in August 2022.

“When I read the case initially, I learned it was a poorly investigated case in ’83. Unfortunately, the lead investigator from then has died so I couldn’t really speak to him,” said Detective Anel Ceric from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, one of the lead investigators for the case. “There were some questions in one of the last reports that the detective cast doubt into Randy’s story. Why those things weren’t followed up on, I don’t know.”

According to a timeline of original events provided by WCSO: On the day it happened, Randy gave responding deputies two different versions of events that led up to the shooting. A month later, detectives had phone calls with Nancy’s co-workers and Randy’s friends that “Randy had been planning to kill Nancy due to Nancy wanting to separate and divorce.”

Another two months later, they say Randy’s parents met with detectives and agreed to have him take a polygraph exam, but he never took it and no longer spoke to investigators. So in August 1983, the case was suspended due to a lack of other leads.

About 39 years after the case was suspended, cold case detectives reviewed and started actively investigating the McEvers case once again. Over the last several months, they interviewed more witnesses and found new evidence. 

In January 2023, detectives interviewed Randy, who was living in Tigard at the time. They then referred the case to the Washington County District Attorney’s Office for review and possible grand jury indictment.

“We interviewed a significant amount of people, we looked at evidence again,” said Detective Ceric. “We were to the point where I believe an arrest was necessary.”

We’ll likely never know what that new evidence was. Before the case could be reviewed by the DA, Randy committed suicide on Feb. 8, 2023. The 40-year-old cold case is now closed.

“We’ve been relieved of going and being drug through a trial,” said Diane Grill, Nancy’s sister. “It’s been hard. It’s been hard for 40 years. Like my sister said, we’ve gotten the answers now that we need to put it to closure.”

Nancy’s family says it’s likely the only admission of guilt they would ever receive, but they’re grateful to finally have answers.

“I’m just thankful too that I’m still here to see the end of this. I wish my husband were here, but he would’ve been very sad,” said Lenore Pepper, Nancy’s mom. “I feel we got justice, but like I say, in a very strange way. But at my age I don’t know if I could’ve gone to a trial every day, so we have to accept. That’s all we can do.”

They continue to remember their Nancy as a quiet and beautiful person, who loved being a mom.

“There hasn’t been one day since she died that I haven’t thought of her,” said Pepper. “It’s been really hard, but we’ve weathered the storm.”

Nancy’s family says as they share the news with more loved ones, they hope to have a memorial service for her, because this has brought upon new trauma and grief, and they hope to find new closure.