Thursday night in the Larimer County Detention Center is usually quiet, according to the receptionist bunkered down in a cinderblock and plexiglass greeting booth in the jailhouse lobby. And last Thursday night, it was quiet, considering that the brick-and-tile architecture of the jail amplifies even the most subtle noises into booming echoes.
The only thing in the waiting room that hints of comfort are the stuffed animals atop a gray industrial filing cabinet behind the receptionist; everything else puts function ahead of form. The hard surfaces make it clear that "obedience" is the expectation here.
Timothy Masters sits in a small booth behind thick ballistic glass, on a steel stool welded to the ground. His hairline is receding and he fields a short buzz-cut.
"They won't even give us a conference room or anything?" he said during an exclusive hour-long interview with Fort Collins Now, frustrated at having to converse through the phone.
It's a fleeting frustration. Such is the life of a convicted murderer, where it's usually pointless to dwell on such complaints. Although Masters has steadfastly denied killing Fort Collins resident Peggy Hettrick in 1987, when he was 15 years old, he's well accustomed to being treated as if he did.
He is trying to secure a new trial so that he can have another chance to prove he is not a murderer.
In a 1999 trial, the jury heard the prosecution's arguments that Masters, motivated by the death of his mother when he was 11, brutally killed Hettrick and mutilated her body as a form of "displaced matricide."
Hettrick was stabbed once in the back by a knife at least five inches long with a serrated blade. She bled to death within minutes, and her body was dragged from the curb of Landings Drive to the middle of a field.
Her partially disrobed body was found by a passing bicyclist; police soon discovered that a nipple and skin around her vagina had been excised with what was described in court documents as "surgical precision."
Masters lived in a trailer with his father next to the field where Hettrick was found; he became a suspect when police learned he'd seen the body on his way to school but didn't report it. Due largely to the complete lack of physical evidence connecting him to Hettrick's murder, and Masters' repeated assertion that he had nothing to do with the crime, the case went cold until he was arrested in 1997.
Although no physical evidence linked Masters to the crime, the jury heard testimony from paid expert witness Dr. Reid Meloy, a forensic psychiatrist who analyzed hundreds of pages of Masters' boyhood drawings and short stories. Many of those depicted violent death, including by stabbing. He discussed the theory of displaced matricide, in which a victim is killed as a surrogate for the murderer's mother. Masters' own mother had died unexpectedly almost four years to the day before Hettrick's death.
When the jury found him guilty of murder and he was sentenced to life in prison, "I was devastated," Masters said.
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