A Fatal Favor: The Murders of Nancy Hyer & Billy Fischer


An idiom dating back to the 15th century holds that one good deed deserves another. When someone does a kind act when you are in need, you are expected to perform a similar action when that person is in need.

On the evening of December 11, 1986, twenty-one-year-old Nancy Hyer of Long Island, New York, performed such a deed for 19-year-old Billy Fischer, whom she had met only three weeks earlier. Billy had helped Nancy when she was in distress, and Nancy, though it was inconvenient for her, was now returning the favor. That favor, however, proved fatal.

Nancy Hyer arrived at the address given to her by Billy Fischer, who had asked her for a ride. When she left, she lay lifeless in the trunk of her car.

The converse of the 15th-century idiom also holds that one bad turn deserves another. Nancy Hyer had no way of knowing it, but she had a made a figurative bad turn when she drove to the address Billy Fischer gave her. Another lousy turn followed in that enough evidence was gathered to charge her killer, but he had fled and, over 33 years later, remains at large.

Billy Fischer and Nancy Hyer met in November of 1986 while on a train heading into New York City. Nancy, a novice passenger, became lost and was soon panicking. Billy noticed her in distress and helped get her to her destination. Once she departed the train, Nancy was unsure how to get to her home in Hicksville on Long Island, 50 miles away. Although Billy lived in Central Islip, twenty miles from Hicksville, he again came to her aid by offering to accompany her to her home. A grateful Nancy accepted.

Billy helped Nancy get home that evening. Afterward, the two began a friendship.

Three weeks later, on December 10, Billy called Nancy at her home, where she lived with her mother, Joan, and sister Debra. Nancy told Debra that Billy had asked her for a ride home from his father’s house in Shinnecock Hills, Southampton, 65 miles away.

Nancy did want to go out as she did not like to drive at night, and the weather was terrible. She felt obligated, however, to help Billy as he had earlier helped her.

Nancy left for Southampton early that evening. She never returned.

Billy suffered from cystic fibrosis, a terminal degenerative disease that weakens the lungs. He was growing increasingly ill and was overwhelmed with medical bills.

In arrears and with nowhere else to turn, Billy is believed to have sought financial help from his estranged father, William. It is not known how he made it to his father’s Southampton home as his condition rendered him unable to drive.

Forty-two-year-old William Fischer had left his wife, Billy, and their other son Jayson 15 years earlier. The task of raising two children on her own was too much for their mother, and Billy and Jayson were split up and put into foster homes.

When the elder Fischer remarried in 1982, his new wife Joan convinced him to let the boys live with him. Fischer, however, still had no interest in being a father and soon returned his sons to their foster homes.

It seems Billy asked his father for help even though the two had not spoken for over a year. William Fischer, however, invited Billy to his home on the evening of December 10, 1986, to discuss the situation.

Fischer worked at a well-to-do car dealership in Manhattan and was paid handsomely. By outward appearances, he was doing well, as he lived in a fashionable home in the Hamptons and drove a Mercedes.

Father Fisher, however, had his share of money woes as well. He had an extensive mortgage on his home and was behind on the payments for his fancy car. Fischer also had a growing cocaine habit, which was affecting his work performance.

When Nancy had not returned home by the following morning of December 12, her mother Joan called the police. However, they could do nothing because Nancy had not been gone long enough to be declared missing.

In searching through Nancy’s room, Debra found a sheet with the directions to Fischer’s home as well as his phone number. When Joan called him, Fischer told her that he had dinner with Billy and Nancy, who left shortly after that. Fischer seemed sympathetic and assured Joan he would call her that if he heard anything.

Another day passed with still no sign of Nancy or Billy, meaning Joan could now file a missing person’s report. Police questioned William Fischer. He was cooperative, telling them the same story he had told Joan. With no evidence of any wrongdoing on his part, the authorities could do little.

Growing more panicked, however, Joan called Fischer several more times. With each phone call, her suspicions grew as Fischer became more hostile, telling Joan he had no idea where her daughter was and expressing little concern that his own son was missing.

On December 21, police responded to a report of an abandoned car in the parking lot of the Southampton Elks Club two miles from Fischer’s home. The car was a 1981 Pontiac registered to Nancy Hyer, and a stench was emanating from the trunk.

When police opened the trunk, they found two bodies inside. They were identified as those of Billy Fischer and Nancy Hyer.

Their autopsies showed that Billy and Nancy had been killed in brutal, but different manners. Billy had been shot 18 times, mostly in the head at close range.

Nancy was wrapped in a blanket, nude, but not having been raped. She had been stabbed twice with a long, sharp instrument, perhaps a butcher knife.

After finding the bodies, police again attempted to question William Fischer. The car salesman, however, had taken flight, and they were unable to locate him.

In questioning Fischer’s neighbors, authorities learned that in the days following Billy and Nancy’s disappearance, William Fischer seemed to have developed an obsession with cleanliness. He was seen painting the walls in his master bedroom at 3:00 a.m. and continuously cleaning his home throughout the day.

A warrant was issued to search Fischer’s home. Slight indentations were observed in a section of the wall in the newly painted master bedroom. When they were removed, two .22 caliber bullets were recovered. A strand of hair identified as Billy’s was fused to one of the rounds.

Additional tests showed large amounts of blood splattered throughout the hallway. The blood was consistent with Nancy’s, and it seemed she was stabbed outside of the master bedroom.

Luminal tests showed blood on several walls throughout the house. Blood-stained fibers matching Billy and Nancy’s blood types were also found in the vacuum cleaner.

Billy and Nancy had met their brutal ends in the Fischer home. Now the search for William Fischer began. Thirty-three years later, it is without an end.

Police surmised that an argument ensued between Fischer and his son over Billy’s asking his father for money. In a fit of rage, the elder Fischer killed his son by shooting him 18 times. Because Fischer’s home was in a secluded area, no one heard the shots.

Fischer then had to kill Nancy. Perhaps because he had emptied all of his bullets into his son, he instead stabbed her to death. He may have had thoughts of raping her, which would explain why she was found nude.

Investigators learned that after Billy and Nancy’s disappearance, Fischer had taken out a second mortgage on his house in excess of $150,000. Authorities refer to this as a “credit bust out,” in which a person cashes out as much credit into currency as possible in preparation for a life on the lam. Fischer knew the net was closing in and that he had to flee quickly.

Fischer’s Mercedes was found abandoned at JFK Airport on February 27, 1987. It is believed to have been there for at least two weeks. He did not register for a flight in his name, but at the time, identifications weren’t always checked, and some investigators believe he simply gave a fake name.

This theory was bolstered with several subsequent reported sightings of Fischer in Europe. Although none could be confirmed, many were deemed credible. Soon, however, Fischer’s trail went cold, and today it is frigid as investigators say they are receiving few leads in the search for the fugitive.

William Peter Fischer is charged with two counts of second-degree murder. He is 5’11 and weighed between 185-200 lbs. Fischer smoked Salem Menthol cigarettes and was a heavy drinker, favoring Red Label and Johnny Walker Scotch. He also used cocaine regularly. 

Fischer has blue eyes, and his hair was brown when he was last seen. As he has aged, his hair has likely turned gray, and his hairline is probably receding.

Fischer generally wore expensive and trendy clothes and spoke with a heavy New York accent. He enjoyed playing racquetball, was flirtatious, and was said to like kinky sex with multiple partners.

Because of Fischer’s unhealthy lifestyle and lack of sightings, many investigators believe he is deceased. Until positive confirmation of his death is determined, however, they will continue to search for him.

William Fischer would today be 75-years-old. If you have any information on his whereabouts, please contact the New York State Police at 631-756-3300.


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Further Reading:

New York Daily News

Unsolved Mysteries


More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

Ian Granstra is a writer and a native Iowan now living in  Arkansas.Growing up, he enjoyed watching real-life crime shows and further researching the stories featured. He wrote about many of them on his personal Facebook page, and several people suggested he should start a group featuring his writings. Ian founded the Facebook group “Murders, Missing People and More Mysteries” in August of 2018 he writes about many cold cases. The group also features many current criminal cases in the news. When Ian isn’t writing, he enjoys exercising, traveling and collecting sports cards. He’s also a big animal lover (his Facebook nickname is “beagle lover.”)


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