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Nancy Pfister's Murder: Prosecutor's Doubts About Two Early Suspects

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Last year, we shared multiple reports about the murder of Aspen socialite Nancy Pfister.

Three people were arrested for the crime: William Styler, a former Denver-area doctor, his wife, Nancy Styler, and ex-bank employee Katharine Carpenter.

However, only William Styler was convicted, despite an affidavit suggesting that he would have needed help committing the crime due to his frail health. That document is on view below.

Now, a new report by 48 Hours, the long-running CBS news-magazine program, reveals that one of the prosecutors in the case still feels that way, even though both Nancy Styler and Carpenter continue to deny any involvement in the crime.

As we've reported, Pfister was renting her home to William, a former Denver doctor, and his wife — but early in 2014, she shared a Facebook post implying that the Stylers weren't keeping up with payments. Then, in late February of last year, Carpenter discovered Pfister's battered body in the closet of the home.

The 911 call featuring Carpenter is heard on one of the many videos from the 48 Hours archive on view below.

After the Stylers and Carpenter were arrested for the crime, William told authorities that he'd acted alone in taking Pfister's life. He said he pounded her with a hammer as she slept, then removed her dead body from the bed, wrapped her remains in sheets and trash bags and dragged them to the aforementioned closet.

The affidavit, released by the court at the request of numerous media organizations, notes doubt from the beginning in William's account. The report's author writes, "Based on my experience, I believe it would be very difficult for one person to place a dead body in a trash bag alone. I know how difficult it can be to move a dead body with four grown men."

Granted, William is said to have had a bad temper, continually cursing under his breath about his dispute with Pfister. But he wasn't alone in his antipathy for their landlord. Kathy Carpenter's mom told investigators she heard Nancy say of Pfister, "I'll kill her."

Moreover, William's condition was shaky in the days after the body's discovery, as opposed to deteriorating while he was in custody. The affidavit recounts an exchange that began with Styler under the covers of a bed in a room he and Nancy were renting at an area lodge. Some excerpts from what followed:

"William Styler had a very difficult time standing."

"I was barely able to help him into a standing position."

"I learned through both Stylers that William Styler had a medical condition akin to Lou Gehrig's disease."

"Starting about fourteen years ago, William Styler began breaking his feet consistently."

Given these physical infirmities, authorities clearly felt William had help in killing Pfister — and the more they learned about the murder scene, the firmer they became in this belief. For instance, the mattress had been flipped in order to hide a blood stain, and the report's author writes, "Knowing the physical and medical state of William Styler, it is difficult to believe that he could flip a queen-sized mattress from one side to the other."

The affidavit contains much more damning info, including details of William's failed polygraph test and the author's conclusion that "I have probable cause to believe that Nancy Styler conspired to and was complicit in the murder of Nancy Pfister."

Nonetheless, 9th Judicial District DA Sherry Caloia ultimately dropped charges against Nancy Styler and accepted William's guilty plea. She also cleared Carpenter in the murder and didn't pursue theft allegations against her related to Pfister.

But in the 48 Hours program, Deputy District Attorney Andrea Bryan makes it clear she thinks Nancy Styler at least knew about the killing, and might have taken an active hand in it.

“What really stuck out at me...was she couldn’t stop talking about how horrible a person that she thought Nancy Pfister was,” Bryan said. "It appeared that there could have been enough anger there that she would actually have been the one who killed Nancy Pfister.”

Bryan also continues to harbor doubts about Carpenter, telling the program, “Kathy Carpenter was a little bit too quick to point the finger at suspects after discovering the body. She did have motive. Nancy Pfister treated her badly at times. She hurt her. There was this up and down — their relationship was a rollercoaster."

As noted by CBS4, both women say they had nothing to do with Pfister's death. Nancy Styler has now reportedly moved out of state and is using her maiden name. Carpenter lost her job at the bank and is living with her mom.

Look below to see booking photos of the Stylers and Carpenter, Nancy Styler's arrest affidavit, the complete 48 Hours piece and a slew of web extras: the aforementioned 911 call, background about Pfister, a testimonial on behalf of the Stylers, an interview with a reporter who closely covered the case and more.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

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