Pfister settles wrongful death claim |

Pfister settles wrongful death claim

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times
File photoNancy Pfister kisses her daughter Juliana during memorial services for her father and Buttermilk founder Art Pfister on April 1, 2007. Juliana recently settled a wrongful-death claim over her mother's murder with Nancy Masson.
Staff Photo |

The daughter of the Nancy Pfister has settled her wrongful death case with Nancy C. Masson, once suspected of aiding her then-husband in the murder of the well-known Aspen native.

Attorneys for Juliana Pfister, 30, filed a notice of dismissal Aug. 3 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Eastern Division of Massachusetts. That’s where Masson, previously known as Nancy Styler, declared personal bankruptcy in July 2015.

On Feb. 26, the younger Pfister filed what’s called an adversary action, in the form of a wrongful death claim, against Masson in the bankruptcy case.

Terms of the settlement are private, said Aspen attorney David Bovino, who worked with Boston lawyer Anne J. White on Pfister’s claim.

“I cannot comment on this at all because of the confidential settlement,” he said Tuesday.

Masson’s Boston attorney on the matter, Adam J. Ruttenberg, could not be reached.

Pfister filed a lawsuit making identical allegations against Masson in January in Pitkin County District Court. That suit’s dismissal was approved Aug. 4 by Judge Denise Lynch, court records show.

Settlement talks began after bankruptcy Judge Joan N. Feeney, in March, froze $850,000 of a $1 million life-insurance claim that Masson collected after her ex-husband, William Styler III, hanged himself in a prison cell where he was serving a 20-year sentence for Pfister’s death. He was 67. That money was frozen pending the outcome of the now-dismissed wrongful death claim. Bovino declined to say the amount, if any, that Pfister collected through a settlement.

Her claim alleged that Styler III fabricated his June 2014 confession that he acted alone in the murder so he could clear his then-wife from being prosecuted for the same crime.

The suit also accused Masson of profiting off the slaying through a book she wrote about the murder as well as reaping the seven-figure insurance payout after Styler committed suicide in his Canon City prison cell in August 2014 — nearly one month after Masson filed for bankruptcy.

Nancy Pfister’s body was found in the closet of her West Buttermilk home by her longtime assistant, Kathy Carpenter, on Feb. 26, 2014. She was 57.

Pitkin County authorities arrested Carpenter, Masson and Styler III on first-degree murder charges. Carpenter and Masson were cleared in June 2014, after Styler III confessed to be the sole culprit in the beating Nancy Pfister to death with a hammer while she was asleep.

He also told authorities he single-handedly shrouded her body from the neck down in a heavy-duty trash bag, covered her head with a kitchen bag, wrapped her neck with an electrical extension cord and placed her body in a bedroom closet.

The Styler couple had rented Pfister’s home while she was in Australia. Disputes over rent payments boiled over leading Pfister to return to Aspen, shortly after which she was killed.

Nancy Pfister hailed from a prominent Aspen family; her father, Art, was the co-founder of Buttermilk ski area and her mother, Betty, was a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots in World War II.

She was unmarried and Juliana was her only child.