The daughter of homicide victim Nancy Pfister has settled the $25 million wrongful-death claim she filed against the convicted killer’s widow.
A stipulation motion filed Wednesday by attorneys for Juliana Pfister and Nancy Masson in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Massachusetts says Juliana Pfister’s claim has been resolved. Pfister is expected to receive $850,000, the bulk of the $1 million life-insurance benefit Masson received after her husband, William Styler, committed suicide in prison. A judge still has to approve the motion.
Pfister sued Masson, who filed for bankruptcy last year, in February. Wednesday’s filing says Pfister was seeking $25,015,000. Masson listed about $92,000 in debt when she filed for bankruptcy, and a judge had her turn over $150,000 of the insurance benefit to the bankruptcy trustee in the case to pay debtors.
After Pfister’s bankruptcy claim, a judge froze the remaining $850,000 of the insurance proceeds. Pfister’s claim is subordinate to four other debtors, meaning she will get the money when the other debts have been paid.
The Pitkin County lawsuit alleges Masson helped her husband in the murder of Nancy Pfister, a popular longtime local, in 2014, and that she is profiting from a book she wrote about the case.
Masson was arrested and spent three months in jail, but Styler eventually confessed that he acted alone. Masson has always adamantly denied having any role in the homicide, contending she was in bed in a Basalt hotel at the time.
The lawsuit echoes the sentiments of many in law enforcement that Styler could not have committed the murder alone. He told police that he struck the sleeping victim several times in the head with a hammer amid a bitter rental dispute involving her Buttermilk home. He said he tied her body up with electrical cords; placed the body in trash bags; and carried the body to a closet. He said he then flipped Pfister’s queen-sized mattress to hide blood stains.
But a neurological condition had enfeebled Styler to the point where he couldn’t stand for long periods and was brought into court in a wheelchair.
“Based on all direct and circumstantial evidence, it is neither credible nor possible that William Styler acted alone, without the knowledge and assistance of Nancy [Masson],” the Pitkin County lawsuit says.
Styler pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. All charges were dropped against Masson and another defendant. Styler hung himself in his prison cell in August.
Efforts to reach attorneys in the bankruptcy case were unsuccessful Wednesday. David Bovino, the Aspen lawyer representing Pfister in the Pitkin County case, declined comment about the bankruptcy development.
The local lawsuit is stayed until the bankruptcy matter is resolved.