Pfister daughter aims to stop Masson-Styler from reaping windfall
The late Nancy Pfister’s daughter, Juliana, filed court papers Friday seeking an injunction to stop Nancy Masson-Styler from using the money she collected on her deceased ex-husband’s $1 million life insurance policy.
Juliana Pfister filed what’s called an adversary action in the Chapter 7 bankruptcy of Masson-Styler, once a suspect in the February 2014 killing of Nancy Pfister.
The nine-page filing accuses Masson-Styler of “intentionally, willfully and maliciously” murdering Pfister, deceiving the bankruptcy court and helping plot the suicide of her ex-husband so she could reap the insurance windfall.
Masson-Styler’s attorney, Robert Simonian of Fall River, Massachusetts, did not return telephone messages this week. Masson-Styler, whom court records say lives in Acushnet, Massachusetts, also could not be reached.
Friday’s filing comes after a bankruptcy judge approved Wednesday’s motion by Pfister and trustee David B. Madoff to give Pfister 30 days to file a claim against Masson-Styler in the bankruptcy case.
“If there’s money in the case, which there will be, she’ll try to get some,” Madoff told The Aspen Times.
Pfister’s actions in the bankruptcy case also put her wrongful-death lawsuit against Masson-Styler on hold in Pitkin County District Court, where it was filed in January.
Pfister’s most recent pleading was filed by Boston attorney Anne White in a Massachusetts bankruptcy court. It claims Masson-Styler “intentionally misled and deceived (Juliana Pfister) and the bankruptcy estate by failing to notify (Pfister) of the existence of the bankruptcy and by failing to list the $1 million life insurance policy for which (Masson-Styler) was the known beneficiary.”
Pfister should have been notified of the bankruptcy, the pleading argues, because as sole heir to her mother’s estate, she was owed rent and utilities by the Styler couple, who rented Nancy Pfister’s West Buttermilk home in late 2013 and early 2014. Pfister wasn’t officially notified of the bankruptcy until Feb. 11.
Masson-Styler filed for bankruptcy July 10, listing $26,110 in assets and $91,982 in liabilities. On Aug. 7, William Styler, serving a 20-year prison sentence for second-degree murder in Arrowhead Correctional Center, committed suicide by hanging himself. He was 67.
A subsequent filing in Masson-Styler’s bankruptcy case revealed she was the sole beneficiary on William Styler’s $1 million life insurance policy.
A settlement stipulation in the bankruptcy, approved by a judge Nov. 16, showed that Masson-Styler paid $150,000 to her bankruptcy estate from the $1 million payout, leaving her with $850,000.
Pfister’s filing on Friday argues that because she wasn’t notified of the bankruptcy then, she was “unable to object to the settlement stipulation and/or furnish evidence of the fraud and deception.”
It also says Masson-Styler “was aware of her husband’s promise to commit suicide in order to provide financially for her. On Aug. 7, 2015, making good on his promise, William Styler committed suicide in jail. Upon information and belief, William Styler committed suicide in order to further provide for and protect his wife.”
Along with her then-husband, Masson-Styler originally was a suspect in the murder of Pfister, who was beaten to death with a hammer while she was asleep at her West Buttermilk home. Authorities discovered her body in a bedroom closet at her home on Feb. 26, 2014. She was 57.
Pfister had kicked the couple out of her home after they failed to pay rent.
Authorities later dropped charges against Masson-Styler and a third suspect, Kathy Carpenter, after William Styler confessed that he acted alone.
Prosecutors dismissed the charge with prejudice against Masson-Styler, meaning she can’t be charged again. Masson-Styler divorced her husband in the months after he was sentenced to prison June 20, 2014 — less than six weeks before he killed himself.
Fully aware he was in the midst of the mountain bike race of his life, Aspen’s John Gaston said he “tried to not think too far ahead” to prevent the magnitude of the moment from getting to him. He eventually finished runner-up in the iconic race.
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