Real Name: Nancy Lynn Manni
Location: St. Lawrence, 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, Iceland but mostly the Philippines. She often worked on the freighters that ferried natural gas from Indonesia to Japan as the ship's Steward. On August 30, 1993, a body was found 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 Billy was obsessed with Nancy even after they stopped dating. However, he 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 her death. Feeling that the investigation was going in the wrong direction, he 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 Seafarer's Union also became a suspect, along with it itself because there was suspicions that some of the members were involved in international drug trafficking. Billy claimed that a few days before Nancy's death, she came to him 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. She claimed that she was threatened by him and that she was going to tell a secret about him. Billy believes that the secret was related to her 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 it.
After Nancy's death, her sister, Linda, received calls from her friends who claimed that she was murdered and that her murder was related to the Seafarer's Union. When Linda received her personal effects, she found that pictures of her and her boyfriend were missing, and that her camera was damaged and missing its film. There were also suspicions about her last assignment, on the S.S. Maiaquez, that employed several union members. In June 1993, her 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. They were not only similar in appearance but also had similar ties to the Seafarer's 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 it to the Seafarer's union, the school, or drug trafficking; her case remains unsolved.
Suspects: Billy and Tony were considered possible suspects, along with other union members.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the February 2, 1996 episode. It was also documented on Motives & Murders: Cracking the Case.
Results: Solved. On February 12, 1997, thirty-two-year-old John David O'Meara was arrested and charged with her murder while serving time in a Polk County, Florida jail for an unrelated crime. He had no apparent ties to the school that Nancy was attending or the Seafarer's Union. An informant told the Maryland National Resources Police that O'Meara told him that he had killed a girl; when the informant asked who she was, he said "the one on Unsolved Mysteries."
O'Meara later confessed to being responsible for Nancy's death. He told police that he met her at a bar on the night she vanished. He claimed that he took her out on a boat and that she fell overboard accidentally and drowned. However, in his confession to the informant, he claimed that he had thrown her off the boat after she rejected his sexual advances. Disturbingly, he claimed that he then ran her over with the boat several times. He told a similar story to another informant.
O'Meara later pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to fifteen years in prison. He was later released. He died on March 5, 2019 at the age of fifty-five.
- Nancy Manni Update on Unsolved Archive
- Woman's body identified
- New lab tests may nab slayer (Page 1) (Page 2)
- Local case to air on Unsolved Mysteries
- Man held in Fla. in 1993 Md. slaying
- Tips lead to murder suspect
- The Murder of Nancy Manni – A Body in the Bay
- Nancy Manni on Find a Grave
- Obituary for John O'Meara