December 1, 2021


Beyond law

Two Colorado residents, when on reverse sides of a superior-profile murder circumstance, form the most not likely of friendships

Tim Masters was convicted of murder in 1999, then exonerated many years later. Linda Wheeler-Holloway led the investigation in the situation.

COLORADO, United states of america — Early just one afternoon this summer season at a effectively-held ranch in Loveland, Tim Masters and Linda Wheeler-Holloway, were being sharing tales about their horses and catching up on just about every other’s lives.  

Listening to them discuss, it would be tough to imagine that their romance wasn’t often as cozy and caring as it sounded now.  

“She wasn’t any person I seemed to in a helpful mother nature at all, this was my adversary,” Masters stated.

On Feb. 11, 1987, the entire body of 37-year-old Peggy Hettrick was found in a industry in Fort Collins. She had been stabbed to dying, her body sexually mutilated.  

Wheeler-Holloway, a detective with the Fort Collins Police Section, was assigned to the scenario. The to start with detail she did was canvas the neighborhood to see if anyone had viewed or identified everything about the murder.  And one particular of the to start with residences she went to was the trailer home exactly where Masters lived with his father, just a couple of hundred yards absent from wherever Hettrick’s entire body was located.

After interviewing Masters’ father, Wheeler-Holloway realized that Masters had noticed the body on his walk to college that early morning but did not report it to police. With that information, Wheeler-Holloway claimed she had discovered her 1st suspect.

“I went, he requires to be interviewed,” Wheeler-Holloway stated.

And Masters was interviewed, for about 9 several hours, for the duration of which he instructed detectives that he had nothing to do with Hettrick’s murder and that he assumed the entire body was a mannequin.

“I remember all morning extensive heading back and forth in my head, did I just see a human body, and then stating, no, it was not a entire body, any person is just participating in a joke,” Masters reported.

> The video clip below aired on 9News around the time of Masters’ arrest and displays the evidence from him.

It was the identical story he would tell each individual time he was questioned by police. In 1992, although Masters was in the Navy, Wheeler-Holloway and yet another detective interrogated him for about twelve hours. She went into the job interview carrying an arrest warrant but came away contemplating she experienced the improper guy. 

“I’d recognized him incredibly immediately, within just two hours of the system getting identified, and I normally thought, up right until that stage that I satisfied him, that he was the assassin,” Wheeler-Holloway mentioned. “I was an skilled murder investigator, and I just did not see a guilty gentleman hunting back at me. 

After Wheeler-Holloway remaining the Fort Collins Police Office in 1995, the investigation ongoing, and Masters remained the prime suspect. He was arrested in 1998, then experimented with and convicted in ‘99 and sentenced to daily life in prison. 

“I don’t forget my stomach just slipping out, an additional fully surreal, shocking moment in my lifetime,” Masters said.

By that issue, Wheeler-Holloway was doing the job for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.  She testified at Masters’ trial at the prosecution’s ask for, even however she overtly questioned their situation.  

“I was not quite popular at that issue with regulation enforcement or prosecution,” Wheeler-Holloway said.

Six decades afterwards, haunted by Masters’ conviction, Wheeler-Holloway began executing some thing about it: working as a private investigator together with Masters’ legal professionals attempting to get the conviction overturned.

> The movie below aired on 9Information and shows the energy around proving Masters’ innocence.

“I knew that the truth of the matter experienced not occur out,” Wheeler-Holloway stated. “I come to feel like my interest and my fight for this case began the working day he obtained convicted.”

It would choose a handful of many years but, many thanks to DNA evidence, Masters’ conviction was vacated in January 2008. Immediately after virtually ten a long time driving bars, he walked out of a Larimer County courtroom a cost-free male, with Wheeler-Holloway proper there with him.  

“That was the spotlight of my occupation,” Wheeler-Holloway reported.

“If it wasn’t for Linda, I would almost certainly even now be in jail,” Masters included.

Considering that that working day, their friendship has only grown. They speak on the cellphone commonly and see each and every other a number of situations a calendar year. Birthdays, for confident.

“We generally meet up for lunch just about every two or a few months and hold out for extended than we must due to the fact both have tons of things to do,” Masters reported.

They share a enjoy of horses — it was Wheeler-Holloway’s ranch wherever they ended up assembly that summertime working day — and claimed they just like investing time with each other and catching up on every other’s life.

“He’s delicate and considerate and just a type, good human getting,” Wheeler-Holloway stated of Masters.

Supplied that they satisfied on reverse sides of a murder investigation, they are perfectly informed that their friendship is a most unlikely a single.  

“We’ve been good friends now for so prolonged it looks variety of usual to me.  I know it is not but it would seem usual,” Masters said.

But no matter whether it is normal or not, they claimed it is incredibly strong — a friendship, they insist, that’s constructed to very last a life time.

“Linda is a superior individual. I’m honored to have her as a friend,” Masters said. “She’s a lifelong close friend at this place.”

In 2010, Masters gained a total of $10 million – $1 million pounds for every 12 months he was driving bars – from the Metropolis of Fort Collins and Larimer County to settle his wrongful conviction lawsuits. He now life in northern Colorado. 

“Most days, I’d say, yeah, life is fantastic,” Masters claimed. “I nonetheless offer with melancholy for the reason that of anything i went by means of.”

Hettrick’s murder stays unsolved. Wheeler-Holloway is now doing the job on the circumstance as an investigator for the Chilly Situation Basis, a non-income group that investigates unsolved violent crimes. She claimed she believes Hettrick’s murder will a single day be solved and that she would not cease until it is.

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