Judge orders killer’s ex-wife to turn over $850,000

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times
Courtesy photo

A U.S. bankruptcy judge has ordered the ex-wife of convicted murderer William Styler to hand over proceeds she collected from his $1 million insurance policy after he killed himself last year.

Judge Joan N. Feeney granted injunctive relief Thursday to Juliana Pfister, the daughter of Nancy Pfister, who was murdered in her West Buttermilk home in February 2014.

“(Masson-Styler) shall immediately turn over any and all proceeds of the policy to the Chapter 7 trustee,” reads a court memo introduced Friday.

Last week, Juliana Pfister filed an adversary action in the personal-bankruptcy case of Nancy Masson-Styler, who was once charged in the murder and who filed for Chapter 7 protection last July.

Pfister’s filing argued that she wasn’t officially notified of the bankruptcy until Feb. 11, after she filed a wrongful-death suit against Masson-Styler in Pitkin County District Court.

In November, the bankruptcy approved Masson-Styler’s $150,000 payment to the bankruptcy estate, while she collected the remaining $850,000. Masson-Styler reaped the windfall after William Styler hanged himself in a Canon City prison Aug. 6, nearly one month after she filed for bankruptcy.

But with Pfister’s intervention, a hearing was held Thursday in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts, the venue for the case.

Pfister’s filing also contended that the bankruptcy court, provided it deems Masson-Styler civilly responsible for the death of Nancy Pfister, should not allow Masson-Styler to have control over the $850,000.

The bankruptcy trustee and attorneys on both sides didn’t respond to telephone and email messages Friday.

Aspen lawyer David Bovino, who represents Pfister in her wrongful-death suit in Pitkin County, called the judge’s ruling a “huge win.”

Masson-Styler’s legal team has until March 17 to contest the judge’s ruling, according to court papers.

On Wednesday, Masson-Styler’s attorney filed a brief arguing that she had no role in the murder. Masson-Styler also provided a sworn affidavit saying she did not “participate in any way in the murder of Nancy Pfister.”

Masson-Styler and a third suspect, Kathy Carpenter, who was Pfister’s personal assistant, were freed from custody in June 2014 after Styler confessed to authorities that he acted alone.

Pfister’s wrongful death suit, which is on hold because of the bankruptcy case, contends Masson-Styler played a role in the murder because her then-husband was too weak and frail to pull off the murder. 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 electrical extension cord, her head shrouded in kitchen trash bags, the suit says. She was 57.

The Styler couple had rented Pfister’s home while she was in Australia. Pfister returned to Aspen because of a dispute with her tenants, whom she evicted because they were not paying rent.

Masson-Styler currently resides in Massachusetts.


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