crimesider

Was Aspen socialite killed by tenants over rent dispute?

Nancy Pfister CBS Denver

An Aspen, Colo. socialite who authorities say was murdered by a husband and wife who rented her home while she was overseas posted on Facebook a month before she was found dead that the people renting her house were failing to pay rent and utilities, reports CBS Denver.

"I'm still in Australia and I'd like to stay in Australia but the people that were supposedly taking care of my house are not doing what they said they would do," the online post dated January 24, 2014 read. " I put the rent very low so they would take care of my dog... if you have any ideas how to help me get someone in the house around February 22 it would be great thank you!!!"

nancy-styler-william-styler-iii.jpg
Nancy Styler, left, and William Styler III
Pitkin County Sheriff's Office via CBS Denver
William Styler III, 65, and Nancy Styler, 62, were arrested Monday evening and charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy in the death of 57-year-old Nancy Pfister. The couple was renting Pfister's home while she was in Australia but they were apparently told to move out Feb. 22. They were arrested at the Aspenalt Lodge in Basalt where they had been staying since.

A friend found Pfister dead inside an upstairs closet at her Apsen home on the evening of Feb. 26, just four days after she had returned from Australia. A cause of death has not yet been released.

The Stylers appeared in court Tuesday and both waived a formal reading of the charges, the Aspen Times reported.

William Styler sat in a wheelchair. His attorney, Sara Steele, told the judge Styler has "mental health issues that need to be taken care of." Steele didn't immediately respond to a telephone message by CBS News' Crimesider seeking clarification.

Beth Krulewitch, the attorney representing Nancy Styler, also did not immediately return a phone message.

CBS Denver reports the Sylers lived in Greenwood Village, Colo. for much of their lives before moving to Castle Rock and then Aspen. Past neighbors described the couple as kind and generous.

William Styler was reportedly an anesthesiologist and Nancy Styler was known to be a master gardener.

The couple is being held without bond. Their next court appearance is March 17.

Nancy Pfister was the daughter of the late Betty and Art Pfister, longtime prominent Aspen residents who co-founded the Buttermilk ski area west of town. Buttermilk Mountain has hosted the Winter X Games multiple times.

Pfister's daughter Juliana told ABC News she can't fathom someone would kill her mother over a rent dispute.

"How could someone just be so angry that they got kicked out of a house?," Juliana Pfister told the network. "There's got to be something more. It's hard to understand that."

Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo said the investigation is ongoing, and he did not rule out the possibility of more arrests.

DiSalvo said both suspects were questioned early in the investigation, but authorities lacked enough probable cause to arrest them. He declined to discuss the investigation further, and court records were sealed.

"This case has been hard from the beginning on all of us, because of the nature of it," DiSalvo said. "First-degree murders don't happen here too often."

Authorities said it was Pitkin County's first murder since 2001, excluding deaths ruled murder-suicides.

DiSalvo said he knew Pfister and other members of her family.

"I loved Nancy," he said. "She was a good person."

Aspen is a ski resort town in the Rocky Mountains, about 100 miles southwest of Denver.

  • Stephanie Slifer On Twitter»

    Stephanie Slifer covers crime and justice for CBSNews.com.

Comments

Follow Us

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.