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"Operation Catch a Toe" leads U.S. Marshals to a Texas murder suspect with a distinctive foot

The Day My Mother Vanished
The Day My Mother Vanished 41:06

In December 2006, just days before Christmas, Tammy Myers vanished. The 29-year-old mother of three had separated from her husband and was living with a new man, William Greer, in a suburb of Houston. Within days of Myers' disappearance, Greer also vanished.

Investigators believed Greer was responsible for Myers' death and spent years hunting the fugitive.

In 2010, Deputy Marshal Cameron Welch of the Southern District of Texas U.S. Marshals Service heard about the case and asked to be assigned. "This guy literally thought that he could victimize not only Tammy, but everybody else that he encountered while he was on the run, and kind of just thumbing his nose in our face," Welch told "48 Hours" correspondent Peter Van Sant in "The Day My Mother Vanished," now streaming on Paramount+. 

Decade-long search for Texas mom's killer takes stunning turns 02:34

Tammy Myers' daughter Nicki Myers-Bates told Van Sant that she and her brothers liked Greer. He was kind and generous to them, but it wasn't long before his relationship with their mother turned dark.

"As a little girl, you remember seeing your mother in pain?" Van Sant asked. 

"Yes," Bates replied. "She was bleeding, she was bruised, she could barely walk."

As far as Bates knows, her mother never reported the alleged abuse to police. Tammy Myers had, however, begun making plans to leave Greer and get back together with her husband, Ryan Myers. Through tears, Ryan Myers told Van Sant that he still loved her. "Tammy was loving and caring," he said. "An overall great person to be around."

Bates was only 7 years old when her mother disappeared — 9 years old when she gave her first interview about the case to "America's Most Wanted."

"You kind of went on a mission, didn't you?" Van Sant asked Bates. "I did," she replied. "To not only find William, but to just keep my mom's name and her case alive."

The search for William Joseph Greer was dubbed "Operation Catch a Toe" due to Greer missing a toe on his right foot. U.S. Marshal Service

In 2012, Deputy Marshal Leslie Ramin joined the search for Greer. "The family wants somebody who's going to push hard to do what needs to be done," he told Van Sant.

Deputies praised Bates' commitment to finding Greer. "She'd be a great Deputy U.S. Marshal," Deputy Marshal Josh Wright said. "We love that." 

Ramin gave the search for Greer a new nickname: "Operation Catch a Toe." It's a reference to a toe the Marshals learned Greer had lost in a bicycle accident. That distinctive feature was mentioned on wanted posters and Marshals hoped it would help tip people off to Greer's identity.

"If you have a murderer in your house and … this murderer is missing a toe … they're going to easily put two and two together," Ramin said. He was right.

Deputy Marshal Cameron Welch
Deputy Marshal Cameron Welch of the Southern District of Texas U.S. Marshals Service heard about the search for William Greer and asked to be assigned. CBS News

On Nov. 22, 2017, the Marshals received a tip that Greer had been spotted in Mexico. He had now been on the run for over a decade. Within days, a swarm of undercover Mexican police captured a man they all hoped was William Greer.

"He completely denied that it was him." Deputy Marshal Cameron Welch told Van Sant. "I just wish I could have been there to see his face when they removed his shoe." 

"What did they see?" Van Sant asked. "The missing toe," Welch replied.

"Operation Catch a Toe" had finally succeeded. Greer was later convicted of second-degree manslaughter after agreeing to a plea deal.

For Bates, the heartbreak continues. She is determined to find her mother, who investigators believe Greer buried somewhere in a wooded area of Cleveland, Texas.

Van Sant was with Bates in February 2024 as she set out with dozens of volunteers from a nonprofit search and recovery organization, Texas EquuSearch. The day began with prayers for Nicki and her family.

"Seeing all the volunteers out here … I don't know any of them, and they have kept me updated and just, you know, made me feel so loved," Bates said.

That day, three cadaver dogs reacted to something in the same area. The search team didn't have the right tools to dig properly, so they committed to trying again. Until then, Bates, who is now a mother herself, will be out searching on her own.

"My kids are, they're young, but they are fully aware of what's happening," Bates said. "They just want so badly for her to be found. So, I'm just trying to stay hopeful for myself, but also for my children and, you know, just keep looking 'cause I don't want to give up."

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