Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo said Monday that news reports saying his office is providing security to relatives of the late Nancy Pfister are completely false.
He was responding to a Monday article in the New York Post’s Page Six, which quotes an unnamed source close to the investigation, said to be from Aspen, who allegedly stated, “They’re not sure if they got them all. There could be others lurking. Nancy’s relatives have been assigned security by the sheriff’s department.”
The story was picked up by The Daily Mail, which reported, “The prominent family of slain socialite Nancy Pfister ... are (sic) now under watch by the sheriff’s department amid concerns other suspects in the murder case have not been apprehended.”
DiSalvo said that in general, the only accurate reporting on the Pfister murder investigation is being done locally.
“Some of these stories that are out there are absurd,” DiSalvo said. “Some stories are getting really screwed up as they cross the country. I don’t know where they’re getting that stuff from. We are not providing any security at all for the Pfisters, either on their property or even in the courtroom. Keep in mind, they have not asked for any.”
The Page Six story also says that DiSalvo has been caring for Pfister’s pet Labradoodle, Gabe, “since her death.” The sheriff said Monday he only had the dog briefly, at the request of Pfister’s daughter, Juliana.
“I don’t have the dog anymore,” he said. “We did get a little attached to him, though.”
Three people are in custody in connection with Pfister’s death: William F. Styler III, 65; his wife, Nancy C. Styler, 62; and Katherine M. Carpenter, 56. All three have been charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
Though the investigation remains open, DiSalvo declined to comment when asked if there are other suspects or persons of interest in the case.
The defendants are scheduled to appear in Pitkin County District Court on Wednesday at 9 a.m. for a proceeding to possibly determine a date for a preliminary hearing. All three are being held in separate jails: William Styler in Pitkin County, Nancy Styler in Eagle County and Carpenter in Garfield County.
The body of Pfister, 57, was found Feb. 26 in a closet inside her home off West Buttermilk Road. Sheriff’s Office officials and prosecutors with the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office have been tight-lipped concerning the evidence surrounding their case. All court records related to the investigation have been sealed.
The Stylers, former residents of the Front Range and tenants of Pfister’s residence during part of the fall and winter, were arrested March 3 at the Aspenalt Lodge in Basalt. Carpenter, a longtime Alpine Bank teller who had been a personal assistant of Pfister’s, helping her to rent out the house when she vacationed, was arrested on March 14 at her employee-housing unit at the Christiana Lodge in Aspen.
In February, while in Australia, Pfister complained on her Facebook page that the Stylers were behind on the $4,000-per-month rent for her house while she was away.
DiSalvo said he understands that part of the reason for the inaccurate tabloid reporting and the rumors spreading throughout the community is the lack of official information.
“I want everybody to have the information but I can’t do it right now,” he said.
DiSalvo said the suspects have been separated into three different detention facilities for many reasons.
“These are very serious charges,” he said. “Anyone with these charges in our jail would be treated as a flight risk, or on suicide watch, and sometimes even segregated into a maximum security part of our jail, which isn’t that big. In our small jail (in Aspen), 20 inmates maxes us out. With the high population that we have now, it would be impossible to keep them segregated, which I think is important to do in this case.”
He said the defendants themselves also have to be protected, from other inmates “and from other people,” and the best way to do that is to segregate them.
Though officially he is the custodian of all three defendants, DiSalvo said it is up to the jailers in Eagle and Garfield counties to decide how to house Nancy Styler and Carpenter.
As for William Styler in the Pitkin County Jail, DiSalvo said he is on a tight leash, so to speak, because of the serious nature of the alleged offense. Low-risk inmates who already have been sentenced might get to leave the jail for various work assignments, but Styler will receive no such privileges, DiSalvo said.
“Pre-sentenced people, we don’t give them that kind of freedom,” he said.
DiSalvo acknowledged the challenges involved in sending two separate vehicles to Eagle and Garfield counties to transport Nancy Styler and Carpenter to and from the courthouse for hearings.
“We obviously don’t put them in the same car, so we have two deputies in each vehicle doing that round-trip,” he added. “It has to be done.”