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February 28, 2014
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Homicide investigation underway, sheriff confirms

Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo confirmed Friday afternoon that a homicide investigation is underway in the death of Aspen native Nancy Pfister.

Other than that, the Sheriff’s Office, for the second straight day, would not provide many details about the case. On Thursday, a statement from DiSalvo’s office only characterized the situation as a “suspicious death.”

Pfister’s body was discovered Wednesday evening inside her house off West Buttermilk Road. She was 57, the daughter of prominent Aspenites Art and Betty Pfister, who died in 2007 and 2011, respectively.

“We have several leads but no suspects at this time,” DiSalvo said at 2 p.m. Friday. “This is a homicide. We are getting support from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. Over the last few days, CBI has sent over eight different agents. We are getting incredible support from the Aspen Police Department and the Basalt Police Department. And we are using federal resources. We have tons of help.”

Other agencies assisting the Sheriff’s Office include the 9th Judicial District, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office and the Carbondale Police Department, he said.

DiSalvo said his office has faced a few inherent difficulties during the course of the investigation, which entered its third day on Friday. It’s the first homicide case in Pitkin County in 12 years, not counting murder-suicides; second, investigators are conducting interviews and meetings on the first floor of the courthouse, which is cramped.

At 11 a.m. Friday, courthouse workers, using yellow crime-scene tape, erected temporary barriers on the first floor to keep people away from the front door of the Sheriff’s Office and nearby meeting rooms. DiSalvo said roping off certain areas became necessary.

“This facility is outdated, not equipped to handle the stress we’re putting on it right now,” he said.

An autopsy was performed Thursday in Grand Junction, the sheriff said. As of 5 p.m. Friday, those results had not been made public.

Though there has been considerable talk in the community about the manner in which Pfister was killed — the reports consistently cite that she was the victim of blunt-force trauma and left inside a closet — DiSalvo adamantly refused to discuss specifics.

“It’s too crucial,” he said, adding that he did not want to compromise the integrity of the investigation. “Not going there.”

DiSalvo said he did not know how long Pfister had been dead when her body was found Wednesday evening. Pfister was visiting Australia during most of the month and had returned to Aspen on Feb. 22.

“She had been on a trip and friends heard from her after she got home. But beyond that I’m not going to go into a time frame,” he said.

Though there have been no arrests in the case, DiSalvo said he believes that the Aspen-area community is safe from harm.

“Every day in this country, especially in big cities, there are homicides,” he said. “They only happen here once every 10 or 12 years. I think we have a very safe community, and there is no reason for me to believe that anybody else is in danger from this. We are no less safe today than we were before we found Nancy.”

DiSalvo said he knew Pfister personally but pointed out that in a small town, “everybody knows everybody.” When Bob Braudis was sheriff, DiSalvo said, Pfister would drop by the courthouse regularly and chat with them.

“I’m sad that Nancy’s dead, but I will tell you this: I would put as much effort into the investigation if it were Nancy Jones, someone I never knew,” he said.

asalvail@aspentimes.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Feb 28, 2014 10:07PM Published Apr 2, 2014 09:40PM Copyright 2014 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.