The wife of the man who murdered prominent Aspen, Colorado, resident Nancy Pfister, says she is innocent and didn't help her husband kill Pfister, despite once being a suspect herself.
“I had absolutely nothing to do with this,” Nancy Styler, 62, told ABC News’ “20/20.”
Aspen Heiress Murder Case Ends With Guilty Plea
Styler's husband, Dr. William F. Styler III, known as Trey, is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence after pleading guilty on June 20 to second-degree murder for bludgeoning Pfister to death inside the Buttermilk Ski Area heiress’ home, which the couple was renting.
Pfister, 57, a philanthropist with a party girl reputation, was found dead inside a walk-in closet in her mountain chalet on Feb. 26 by her friend, Kathy Carpenter, who was also suspected in her murder. After Trey Styler's confession, the first-degree murder charges against Carpenter, 56, and Styler's wife were dropped.
Prosecutors have said that if new evidence comes to light they can re-file charges against Carpenter at any time. As part of a deal, Nancy Styler can never be charged for Pfister's murder.
After her husband confessed to killing Pfister, Styler said she was shocked that he could be capable of such a crime.
“The jail part was a day at the beach compared to learning that the person that you've been with for 32 years committed such an awful crime,” she said.
According to prosecutors, Trey Styler, 66, a former anesthesiologist from Denver, and his wife had intense disagreements with Pfister over whether he and his wife had been paying the $4,000 monthly rental fee on her Buttermilk home. Nancy Styler said the couple did not have a lease because Pfister “didn't want one.”
Pfister had been renting her home to the Stylers while on an extended trip in Australia, prosecutors said. At one point, Styler said Pfitser told her if she helped her pack for a month-long trip to Australia, she wouldn't charge them rent. After she left, Styler said she and her husband moved in, but then they received word that Pfitser was cutting her trip short and wanted them out immediately.
"It was like ... 'How are we going to do this in four days?'" recalled Nancy Styler.
She and her husband moved to a nearby motel in Basalt, Colorado, with a festering grudge against Pfister.
Four days after she returned home from Australia, on Feb. 26, Pfister’s body was discovered wrapped in white and black trash bags and the sheets from her bed.
The Stylers were arrested on March 3, and charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
Trey Styler admitted to hitting Pfister in the head with a hammer while she slept and hiding her body in a closet, prosecutors said.
“He said, ‘I looked at her peacefully while our life was being torn apart,’ and he said, ‘I lost it,’” Nancy Styler said.
Nancy Styler said her husband told her how he was able to kill Pfister, including how he wrapped a cord around her body to be able to drag her to the closet.
“And he had left the bag -- the murder weapon, the papers, her pearls, her pills -- he had left that all in a bag, and that the bag was in the trunk of my car. And I was driving around with the murder weapon for three days,” said Nancy Styler.
Although he confessed to being the sole killer, the now wheelchair-bound Trey Styler appeared to be physically incapable of killing Pfister and covering up the crime on his own. Nancy Styler said her husband was diagnosed with a progressive neurological disease in late 1999 that made it difficult for him to walk.
“We're thinking, you know, ‘How could he physically do that?’” Agent Lisa Miller told “20/20” of Trey Styler's confession. “We took a break, and I asked Mr. Styler if he wanted to stand up. And he informed me he couldn't stand up. He didn't have the strength to.”
Police wondered during their investigation if Carpenter or Styler had a role in helping him with the murder.
“If he had come to me and said, ‘I've just done something horrible,’ I would've called the police right away,” Nancy Styler said.
Nancy Styler said she still loves her husband, who she visits behind bars, and that people are wrong for thinking she helped kill Pfister.
“Why can't people believe this? Why do they have to involve me in this?” Nancy Styler asked. “I say, 'Go back and look at things in your mind and think about how this could happen, and don’t judge people unless you know the story.'”