Settlement brewing in Pfister’s wrongful-death claim

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times
Nancy Masson and her late ex-husband

The wife of William Styler, convicted of killing Aspen native Nancy Pfister, has yet to respond to a wrongful-death claim against her because a settlement is pending.

That’s according to court documents filed last week in plaintiff Juliana Pfister’s claim against Nancy Masson, who previously went by Nancy Styler, in her personal bankruptcy case. Juliana Pfister, the daughter of Nancy Pfister, filed the adversary action Feb. 26 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Eastern Division of Massachusetts, the venue for the case.

“The parties have reached an agreement in principle that is expected to lead in a few weeks to the parties being able to dismiss this adversary proceeding,” said a brief filed Monday by attorneys for both Pfister and Masson.

Neither returned phone messages this week. Pfister’s Aspen attorney, David Bovino, declined comment, as well.

This week’s brief was the fifth motion filed by Pfister and Masson seeking to extend filing deadlines in the case.

Masson declared bankruptcy in July. On Aug. 6, William Styler, whom she divorced earlier in 2015, hanged himself in a Canon City prison. Styler, 67, was serving a 20-year sentence for the second-degree murder of Nancy Pfister, who was slain at her Buttermilk Mountain home in February 2014.

Styler’s death triggered a $1 million life-insurance payment to Masson. The bankruptcy court approved $150,000 of those funds to be managed by the case’s trustee. But in March, after Juliana Pfister filed the adversary action to the bankruptcy case, Judge Joan N. Feeney froze the remaining $850,000 that Masson collected pending the outcome of the wrongful-death claim.

Bovino called the judge’s order a “huge win” at the time.

Masson, once charged in Nancy Pfister’s murder before her then-husband confessed to authorities in June 2014 that he acted alone, introduced a sworn affidavit in March saying she did not “participate in any way in the murder of Nancy Pfister.”

Juliana Pfister’s wrongful-death action contends Masson did, arguing that her then-husband wasn’t physically equipped to pull off the murder by himself. Nancy Pfister was found beaten to death from hammer strikes to her head. Her body, which was placed in a closet, was wrapped from the neck down in a heavy-duty trash bag. Her neck was wrapped with an electrical extension cord, her head shrouded in kitchen trash bags, the suit says. She was 57.

Juliana Pfister originally filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in January against Masson in Pitkin County District Court. That case, however, was put on hold after she filed an identical claim in Masson’s Chapter 7 case.

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