Real Name: Nancy Lynn Manni
Nicknames: None known
Location: Chesapeake Bay, Maryland
Date: August 30, 1993
Details: Thirty-three-year-old ship steward Nancy Manni was one of the few female members of the Seafarer's Union that sailed around the world to places including Brazil, Greece, and Iceland. She often worked on the freighters that ferried natural gas from Indonesia to Japan. On August 30, 1993, she was found dead, floating in the Chesapeake Bay; the cause of death was drowning. Although it could not be determined if her death was a murder, suicide, or accident, her family and friends believed that she met with foul play.
Nancy's ex-boyfriend, Billy Mesmer, was questioned two days after her body was found. He became a suspect because of dark, threatening poetry that he wrote shortly before her death. Some of the more disturbing lines included: "Excited breath escapes his lips, while he waits without the light. No one will ever hear your screams as the predator begins to bite." The title of the poem was "Night Stalker".
Investigators felt that he was obsessed with Nancy even after they stopped dating. However, Billy claims that he loved her and that the poems were merely his way to show his emotions towards her. Also, he claimed to have a strong alibi for the time of Nancy's death. Feeling that the investigation was going in the wrong direction, Billy told police to look into the members of the Seafarer's Union and their union run training center, Harry Lundenberg School of Seamanship. He felt that they may have been involved in her death.
Another boyfriend in the Union also became a suspect, along with the Union itself because there was suspicions that some of the members were involved in international drug trafficking. Billy claimed that a few days before her death, she came to him and was upset. She said that her boyfriend had told her that he was going to make her job difficult if he didn't listen to her. Nancy claimed that she was threatened by her boyfriend and that she was going to tell a secret about him. Billy believes that the secret was related to the boyfriend's alleged drug trafficking within the Seafarer's Union. Several other witnesses also later contacted the police, claiming that her death was related to drug trafficking within the Union.
After Nancy's death, her sister Linda received calls from Nancy's friends; they claimed that she was murdered and that her murder was related to the union. When Linda received Nancy's person effects, she found that pictures of her and her union boyfriend were missing, and that her camera was damaged and missing its film. There were also suspicions about Nancy's last assignment, on the S.S. Maiaquez, that employed several union members. In June of 1993, Nancy's friend received a letter from her saying that she was getting death threats from several of the people on board the Maiaquez.
Police even began to suspect that Elizabeth Greenberg, who was murdered in 1988, was killed by the same person who killed Nancy. The two women were not only similar in appearance but also had similar ties to the union. Both were also dumped in the Chesapeake Bay. The authorities also believe that mysterious phone calls and threats made by unidentified perpetrator(s) may have had something to do with her death. Investigators have no concrete evidence that connects Nancy's death to the union, the school, or drug trafficking; her case remains unsolved.
Suspects: Nancy's ex-boyfriend Billy Mesmer and boyfriend at the Seafarer's Union were considered possible suspects, along with other members of the Union.
Extra Notes: This segment originally aired on the February 2, 1996 episode of Unsolved Mysteries. Nancy's case was also documented on Motives & Murders: Cracking the Case.
Results: Solved. On February 12, 1997, John David O'Meara, a man who reportedly has no ties to the school that Nancy was attending or the Union, was arrested and charged with her murder while serving time in a Polk County, Florida jail for an unrelated crime. An informant told the Maryland National Resources Police that O'Meara told him that he had killed a girl; when the informant asked who the girl was, O'Meara said "the one on Unsolved Mysteries."
O'Meara later confessed to being responsible for Nancy's death. He told police that he met Nancy at a bar on the night she vanished. He claimed that he took her out on a boat and that she fell over accidentally and drowned. However, he later pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to fifteen years in prison. He has since been released.
- Local case to air on 'Unsolved Mysteries'
- Man held in Fla. in 1993 Md. slaying
- Nancy Manni at Find a Grave