Couple arrested in murder of Aspen native Nancy Pfister
Ryan Summerlin April 2, 2014
The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office arrested a man and his wife Monday afternoon in connection with the death of Aspen native Nancy Pfister.
William Francis Styler III, 65, and Nancy Christine Styler, 62, allegedly rented Pfister’s West Buttermilk Road home during the fall. Sheriff’s deputies arrested them at the Aspenalt Lodge in Basalt at about 5:10 p.m. and took them to the Pitkin County Jail, where they were to be held without bond overnight. They both face charges of first-degree murder.
An advisement of the charges likely will be held in Pitkin County District Court sometime Tuesday, according to Deputy District Attorney Andrea Bryan. It will be up to the district judge to set bond for the Stylers, Bryan said. Because the investigation is ongoing, records related to the case, such as search warrant information, will continue to be sealed, authorities said.
In addition to facing charges of first-degree murder, a Class 1 felony, the Stylers each face counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, a Class 2 felony. A Sheriff’s Office news release says they are former residents of Castle Rock. Internet records show that William Styler is a physician, graduating in 1979 from the Oklahoma State University College Of Osteopathic Medicine. The state Department of Regulatory Agencies website shows that his credentials expired in May 2005.
During a 19-minute news conference at 6 p.m. in the Pitkin County government building adjacent to the courthouse, Sheriff Joe DiSalvo declined to answer questions about the manner in which Pfister died. He also would not comment on what evidence was gathered for the purposes of obtaining a warrant for the Stylers’ arrest.
DiSalvo said the investigation is ongoing, and he did not rule out the possibility of more arrests in connection with Pfister’s death. He said his department intends to cast “as wide a net” as possible.
Surrounded by representatives of different law-enforcement entities — the investigation was aided by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the Aspen Police Department, the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, the Basalt Police Department and others — DiSalvo pointed out that the last five days were difficult on everybody involved.
Pfister’s body was discovered at her home last Wednesday evening following a 911 call to local authorities. She was 57.
“This case has been hard from the beginning on all of us, because of the nature of it,” DiSalvo said. “First-degree murders don’t happen here too often. That’s good. When they do, we take it very seriously, and we storm it. We throw everything we’ve got at it.
“In this case, we worked hard, almost 24 hours a day, on little rest for a lot of people,” the sheriff continued. “This was a collaborative, team effort that I’m proud of. This was a group of professionals working toward a successful investigation. My job is, for the most part, done.”
On Monday afternoon shortly before the arrests, Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Basalt police officers were spread around strategic places in the parking lots of the Aspenalt Lodge and nearby Clark’s Market.
Nancy Styler was led out of the hotel room first. She was immediately placed in a Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicle close to the room. William Styler came out a minute or so later, also in the custody of deputies. While Mrs. Styler was dressed in regular clothes, Mr. Styler was wearing a teal bathrobe and slippers.
Deputies stopped outside the room in the hotel parking lot to adjust Mr. Styler’s handcuffs. As they were putting him into a different patrol vehicle, Mr. Styler looked around and called out softly to his wife, saying only her first name.
Once Mr. Styler was placed in the vehicle, the car with Mrs. Styler departed the parking lot. Mrs. Styler had tears running down her cheeks.
At the media gathering in Aspen less an hour later, DiSalvo politely refused to answer many of the questions that came his way. He said that while the Stylers were brought in for questioning on Thursday, there was “not enough probable cause” to arrest them before Monday afternoon.
He said he believes that they began renting from Pfister in late November or early December. He said he didn’t know when they moved out. Pfister returned from a vacation in Australia on Feb. 22, and her body was found four days later.
DiSalvo mentioned that he knew Pfister, who was the daughter of prominent Aspenites Art and Betty Pfister. They preceded her in death in 2007 and 2011, respectively. Art Pfister was a former Aspen Skiing Co. executive who played a major role in the development of Buttermilk Mountain.
“I loved Nancy — she was a good person,” he said.
Aspen Times reporter Scott Condon contributed to this story.