Nearly 25 years after the 1987 homicide of Peggy Hettrick, the once convicted Timothy Masters is no longer considered a suspect in the case. Masters served almost 10 years in prison for the unsolved crime and was the first Coloradan freed from prison because of DNA evidence.
“Masters cooperated fully with our investigation, including the Grand Jury proceedings. Given the nature and extent of the Grand Jury investigation, the time has come for law enforcement to officially exonerate Timothy Masters,” Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said in a statement. “The Hettrick case remains open. We have made significant progress in the investigation. Our team will continue to develop evidence and we will continue to work on this case until the murderer is brought to justice. Too many lives have been affected by the events of that day. Justice requires that we continue to diligently work on the case.”
When Peggy Hettrick's body was discovered in a Fort Collins field on February 11, 1987 police investigated Masters for the homicide, then just 15 years old, suspicious of his drawings of knives. No physical evidence was ever found tying Masters to the crime.
Masters was sentenced to life in prison in 1999, but upon reviewing the case Adams County District Attorney Don Quick said DNA evidence found on Hettrick's clothing did not match Masters and called for a retrial.
The evidence was sent to a laboratory in the Netherlands and then confirmed by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to illustrate the DNA profile of a previously dismissed suspect.
Larimer District Attorney Larry Abrahamson apologized in a press release:
Rule 3.6 and 3.8 of The Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct precludes prosecutors from publicly commenting on the guilt or innocence of any individual who may be subject to an ongoing investigation. However, in light of the current statement, I believe it is appropriate as the current District Attorney and on behalf of the criminal justice system in Larimer County to express our apologies to Timothy Masters, his family and friends for the conviction and sentence he endured 12 years ago.
In 2010 Masters received a $10 million settlement from Fort Collins and Larimer County, claiming detectives and prosecutors targeted him and destroyed or withheld evidence that would have cleared him.
"Pursuant to the mandate from the Governor's Office, our team undertook a comprehensive review of the entire Hettrick homicide," said Suthers. "Our team conducted more than 170 interviews and conducted further DNA analysis. Throughout the past year, the Statewide Grand Jury heard evidence and testimony from numerous witnesses. Based on the testimony, the forensic analysis and the crime scene analysis, the overwhelming conclusion is that Timothy Masters was not involved in the murder of Peggy Hettrick."
Below is footage of a Fort Collins police officer trying to get a confession out of 15-year-old Masters. Let us know what you think about this case in the comments beneath.