While she would be away in Australia, Aspen resident Nancy Pfister agreed to rent her home to a doctor and his wife who had moved to the area last fall. But the arrangement apparently did not unfold smoothly.
On Jan. 21, Pfister – the daughter of a prominent ski resort developer – wrote on Facebook that her tenants would be kicked out within a month, according to the Aspen Daily News.
“The people that were supposedly taking care of my house are not doing what they said they would do,” she wrote in another post, “and they’re not paying rent and they haven’t paid utilities.”
A work force agency did indeed move the couple’s possessions out on Feb. 22, when Pfister, 57, returned to Colorado. Four days later, on the evening of Feb. 26, a friend who came by the house found Pfister’s body in an upstairs closet.
This week, authorities arrested the doctor, William F. Styler III, 65, and his wife Nancy Christine Styler, 62, on suspicion of Pfister’s murder.
The case stunned the close-knit resort community of fewer than 7,000, where Pfister’s late parents, Betty and Art Pfister, co-founded the Buttermilk ski area, but much about the investigation remains unknown.
While it took several days for the criminal case to take shape, Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo and prosecutor Andrea Bryan remained silent on the details and the break that finally led authorities to the Stylers, formerly of Castle Rock, Colo.
Public records show that William Styler is a graduate of Oklahoma State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, although he has not been licensed to practice in Colorado since 2005.
Yet the Stylers were under investigation from the start, Sheriff DiSalvo said at a news conference after the couple’s arrests Monday at the Aspenalt Lodge, where they were staying after moving from Pfister’s home. “We all felt it was crucial to keep these people within our view,” he said.
“First-degree murders don’t happen here too often, that’s good,” he said. “When they do we storm it, we throw everything we’ve got at it.”
Added the prosecutor: “Our work is far from over. Our office is going to make it the highest priority to ensure a fair and successful prosecution.”
During a brief court appearance Tuesday, the Stylers did not enter a plea, pending the formal filing of charges. William Styler appeared in a wheelchair and told his wife, “I can’t stand up for [the judge].”
A public defender, Sarah Steele, told the court that William Styler has “mental health issues that need to be taken care of,” according to the Aspen Times.
The judge did not set bond, and scheduled the next court date for March 17 while the Stylers remain in the Pitkin County Jail.