(ASPEN, Colo.) — The three people arrested in connection with the death of Aspen, Colo., socialite Nancy Pfister appeared in court Monday, including the victim’s longtime friend who authorities said discovered the body.
Pfister’s friend Katherine M. Carpenter was arrested Friday night and charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first degree murder. Pfister, 57, whose late parents co-founded the popular Buttermilk ski area west of Aspen, was found severely beaten in her mountain home on Feb. 26 after returning from an extended trip to Australia, authorities said.
It was Carpenter, 56, who reportedly found the body in an upstairs closet at the home and called police.
It was a busy day in the historic Pitkin County Courthouse. Just four and a half hours earlier, two other people being held for Pfister’s murder, William F. Styler III and his wife, Nancy Styler, appeared on suspicion of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
The couple, who were arrested on March 3, had been renting Pfister’s home.
In January, Pfister wrote on her Facebook wall: “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 and they’re not paying rent and they haven’t paid utilities.”
William Styler, 65, wearing an orange jail outfit, kept his head down as he was brought into the courtroom in a wheelchair. Nancy Styler, 62, entered the courtroom in handcuffs immediately after her husband.
The Stylers are represented by separate lawyers. They did not acknowledge each other.
Nancy Styler tried to make eye contact with a large group of the victim’s friends and family who sat together in the packed courtroom. However, most of them stared straight ahead and did not meet her gaze.
Pfister’s daughter, Juliana, attended the proceedings surrounded by friends. Her aunt, Christina Pfister, sat a few rows up from Juliana. Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo sat with the family.
Juliana Pfister told ABC News that she couldn’t believe someone would kill her fun-loving mother because of an alleged rent dispute.
“How could someone just be so angry that they got kicked out of a house?” she said. “There’s got to be something more. It’s hard to understand that.”
As the hearing went on, the Stylers’ defense attorneys and their investigators were at Nancy Pfister’s home, which is still considered a crime scene. ABC News has learned that they brought out boxes and folders from the home where Pfister was found almost a month ago.
DiSalvo, who is taking care of Nancy Pfister’s dog, Gabe, has released few details about the resort town’s first murder investigation in over a decade, saying only that the Stylers had moved into Pfister’s home last fall.
“This is a very important case. It just doesn’t happen in Aspen,” District Attorney Sherry Caloia said.
Asked whether there could be more arrests in the case, Caloia said she could not rule it out.
Pfister’s death remains an open investigation. The autopsy report has not been released and all records in the case have been sealed.
Bail has yet to be set for any of the defendants, court officials said.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Aaron Smith and Evan Perez, CNM
John Clyde, KSL.com
Jennifer Graham, Deseret News