Crime

Peggy Hettrick: New DNA evidence in murder that led to improper Tim Masters conviction

In recent years, the 1987 murder of Fort Collins's Peggy Hettrick has been mentioned most often in relation to Tim Masters, who was improperly convicted of the crime, leading to settlements totaling $10 million.

But the case remains unsolved -- which makes word of new evidence especially welcome.

According to Mike Saccone, spokesman for Attorney General John Suthers's office, "We've been using touch-DNA technology to help us investigate this case. Obviously, anytime you have a new forensic technique, it moves the ball down the field -- and we feel that's happened in the Hettrick case."

The technique, which wasn't available at the time of the original investigation, isn't cheap. The AG's office contracted with Independent Forensic Services, a Dutch firm, for a price tag in the range of $100,000. Fortunately, the company found new DNA evidence on Hettrick's clothing.

At this point, Saccone is keeping details of that evidence hush-hush, citing the ongoing investigation. But he makes it clear that finding Hettrick's killer is deemed extremely important.

"The governor ordered us to take on this case," Saccone notes. "So it's clearly a high priority not only for the governor, but also for the office of the Attorney General."

Justice has already been done when it comes to Masters. Now it's Hettrick's turn.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts