Lum: Murder affidavits, holy mackerel |

Lum: Murder affidavits, holy mackerel

I was as eager as everyone else to (finally) get to see the police affidavits leading to the arrests of William and Nancy Styler in the death of Nancy Pfister, in the hope of gaining some understanding of this horror.

Was I ever in for a shock.

The case against Nancy Styler is 38 pages long, double-spaced. It outlines the course of events in chronological order, as perceived by Deputy Brad Gibson, and was filed on March 2, five days after the discovery of Pfister’s body.

I then turned to the affidavit for the arrest of William Styler, and I wasn’t three pages into it before I thought, “Damn, this sure sounds familiar.” It turns out — drum roll — that the two affidavits are exactly the same except for the penultimate page, wherein one report states that there is probable cause to arrest William Styler and the other claims probable cause to arrest Nancy Styler.

If I were a betting woman, I’d bet a tidy sum that the affidavit for Kathy Carpenter also is the same except for item No. 51 on page 37.

You can read the Stylers’ affidavits at the courthouse (many steps — look for the hidden elevator) or pay a stipend to make copies. Save time and money by buying one affidavit plus a copy of page 37 from the other. I went up there to verify that what I had was all there was and was told, “That’s it.”

Legal wrangling continues over the release of Carpenter’s affidavit, which she has requested to be closed. I hope she has read it. If I’m right that it’s the same as the Stylers’ affidavits, it would put her in an even better light if it were released. Then she should write a book — call it “Caught in the Crossfire.” God knows all the ingredients are at her fingertips.

It’s certainly clear why the officials didn’t want to release them at all. There was evidence that the Stylers were involved but no evidence as to who did what, so they were lumped together as suspects on the theory that William Styler couldn’t have managed it on his own.

“Based on my life experience I believe it would be difficult for one person alone to lift a queen-sized mattress by themselves (sic), move the body and then secure the body in trash bags with electrical extension cord,” Gibson wrote. That was the case against Nancy Styler.

Gibson states, “I learned through both Stylers that William Styler has a medical condition akin to Lou Gehrig’s disease,” a suggestion that is now rapidly being reported as fact in the media. We’d look at the photos of him in a wheelchair and think, “What the hell? Is he faking it?” Over the months, why hasn’t he been diagnosed for sure?

I suspect that the authorities rue the day they decided to stir Carpenter into the insubstantial stew and that they probably wept for their blessings when William Styler confessed — true or not — that he had murdered Pfister all by himself.

They were so grateful, they gave William Styler every concession he asked for: 20 years for murder in the heat of passion, with possible parole in 15 years; amnesty for Nancy Styler, who cannot be charged again for the murder even, one assumes, if she confesses it herself.

Carpenter, not so lucky, had charges dropped but hanging over her head forever. If we have learned anything from this dreadful case, it is to get a lawyer immediately. Do not pass “Go” if you suspect that you’re a suspect.

Su Lum is a longtime local who enjoyed reading about the “three-carrot” diamond ring William Styler was trying to sell. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. Reach her at

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