FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The murder of Peggy Hettrick, 21 years ago this February, was a dark chapter in the history of this tidy college town on the edge of Colorado’s eastern plains.
Ms. Hettrick, a 37-year-old single woman, was last seen leaving a local bar alone and was later found in a frozen field, stabbed in the back and sexually mutilated.
The investigation of the 1987 killing focused on 15-year-old Tim Masters, a collector of survival knives who loved gore-dripped imagery and lived with his father in a trailer near the field.
No physical evidence or murder weapon was ever produced linking Mr. Masters directly to Ms. Hettrick, but on the basis of his drawings, his knives and a psychological profile, he was arrested more than a decade later, convicted in 1999 and sentenced to life in prison.
A divided State Supreme Court upheld the conviction, but the dissenting minority said the drawings of mayhem and mutilation were so prejudicial that Mr. Masters had perhaps been convicted “not for what he did but for who he is.”
Now the case has been reopened with hearings that have riveted Fort Collins and the Colorado legal community. Mr. Masters’s new lawyers, in seeking a retrial, have cast suspicion on a Fort Collins eye surgeon, Richard Hammond.
Dr. Hammond, who also lived near the murder scene, killed himself in 1995 after being arrested as a sexual voyeur, but he was never considered a suspect in the Hettrick case. He was also acquainted, according to new court documents, with a prosecutor in Mr. Masters’s case, Terence A. Gilmore, who is now a District Court judge.NY TIMES