I can't help wondering what the recidivism rate would be if everyone released from prison could garner this kind of community support.
FORT COLLINS, Colorado (CNN) -- The greeting card came from a woman Tim Masters had never met. She was unemployed, she wrote, but had scrounged up what money she could because "every little bit helps."
Moved, Masters held up a pink $20 check. "I'm not going to cash this one; I'm going to keep it," he said.
The check is but a sample of the good will showered upon Masters since a prosecutor said DNA evidence in a February 1987 murder pointed to another suspect.
Though Masters is free, the January 25 motion to dismiss the charges explicitly stated the evidence doesn't exonerate him; it merely warrants another investigation into the murder and sexual mutilation of Peggy Hettrick.
Masters' case is the talk of Fort Collins, a northern Colorado town of about 137,000. The co-owner of The Armstrong Hotel downtown explained on the day of Masters' release that one of her managers "knows everything about the case."
The next morning, at Mugs Coffee Lounge next door, a man and woman hovered over a newspaper, the man explaining that Masters' 1999 trial may have been a farce. That night, at The Canyon Chop House a few blocks away, a waiter giddily told a bartender that a local newspaper editor was trying to uncover whether police had railroaded Masters.
"I've had so much support and every place I've been people have just been nice to me," he said. "It's pretty cool."
Masters received a tidy discount at a Greeley suit shop the day after he was released. His aunt bought his 1996 Pontiac from one of his cousins and gave it back to Masters. "He loved that car as much as I do," Masters said.
He's also received gift cards, a digital camera and several checks, ranging from $5 to $1,000, he said. The money helps because he's still looking for a job, said the former aircraft mechanic.
One letter of support accompanied a "welcome back to the outside world gift package," containing a cell phone, an MP3 player and instructions on how to use the devices. It also contained Wal-Mart and Blockbuster cards, books, coffee, biscotti and a warning: "Starbucks is now taking over the world."
"Enjoy each day, Mr. Masters," read the letter. "When the sun rises and sets, and you are free to view it from wherever you want, free to pick out your own dinner, and never again wear a color that you don't choose, treasure each moment... these are your days now."