Letter from Nicholas Bernhard Hello, I'm proud to present the press kit for Blackstone's Equation's screening
in Ft. Collins. Blackstone's Equation: A New Documentary on the Tim Masters Case Blackstone's Equation tells the story of Tim Masters, a Ft. Collins
resident who was wrongfully convicted of murder. Walking through a dirt field
on the way to school, he passed by what he thought was a mannequin. It was later
learned to be the body of Peggy Hettrick, who lived nearby. Masters had never even heard of Hettrick before then. This chance happening would cause police to pursue Masters relentlessly, subjecting him to a 15-hour interrogation, harassing him with anonymous messages,
and turning his classmates against him. Police even resorted, on suggestion from
the FBI, to trying to provoke Masters into committing another crime. Ultimately
Masters left Ft. Collins for a career in the Navy. Eleven years later, Masters was arrested and charged with Hettrick's murder.
With no physical evidence against him whatsoever, the prosecution's argument was
that because the teenage Masters drew violent pictures as a hobby, he was capable
of the heinous murder. After a mere 6-day trial, he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Over the next 9 1/2 years, Masters got new attorneys, who discovered the
lengths law enforcement went to in pursuing him. Police had withheld evidence of separate footprints in the field, and testimony from a plastic surgeon refuting
that Masters was capable of the crime. Worst of all, evidence of a superior suspect, who was friends with the DA, was destroyed by the police. In 2008, new DNA
testing proved Masters had nothing to do with the murder. Blackstone's Equation was produced and directed by Nicholas Bernhard, who
also edited and scored the film. It features interviews with several people from the case, including Masters' post-conviction attorneys, a juror from the trial,
the Colorado Innocence Project, and Masters himself. This fast-paced, engrossing
documentary conveys what is certainly the most fascinating story of wrongful
conviction you've ever heard of. It is a story of the American justice system, in its shortcomings and
triumphs. It is about the pitfalls of criminal profiling, so popular in Hollywood films like Silence of the Lambs, but with scant basis in reality. Lastly, it is
a story of never, ever giving up, even in our darkest of hours. Blackstone's Equation is 45 minutes long, and will play at the Lyric Cinema
Cafe in Ft. Collins, beginning November 3rd, playing for a week. Tim Masters will be at the November 3rd showing, at 7 PM, to answer audience questions. The
documentary has been re-mastered in High Definition for these screenings, for
the best possible viewing experience. Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50d7Ya48dqw For more information, please contact: Nicholas Bernhard, Director-Producer (303) 304-6125 E-mail: Nicholas@NDHFilms.com
Blackstone's Equation, a documentary about the case, will be shown for the first time at CU Boulder on Friday, April 27 at 7 pm. The location is the Atlas Building, at the north end of the Euclid parking lot. The event is free and open to the public. The filmmaker is Nicholas Jay Bernhard, and the program includes both the film and a question-and-answer period.
by Pat Hartman
Snugglebug861 is a young lady who posted a video on YouTube and titled it "Tim Masters/Peggy Hettrick." She says,
I felt very compelled to post this, mainly because every time I've posted this on the Rants and Raves located in Craigslist my rant is flagged and deleted no more than ten minutes after posting this. I did some extensive research and fallowed this case closely since 2008. This story just doesn't settle well with me, especially because there are so many similarities between the events that led up to Peggy Hettricks Murder, and what is happening to me now
It's obvious that you don't know much at all. She was not being stalked in the sense you're talking about. If anything, she was trying too hard to stay close to her killer. It sounds like you've gone through some rough times, and I'm sorry for that, but the similarity to Hettrick is zero.
(A while back, the local newspaper asked for reader submission on the subject of Unsung Heroes. This is what I sent in.
It was a long and difficult struggle to get wrongfully convicted Tim Masters out of prison. The victory was due to the combined efforts of many people, none more dedicated than Linda Wheeler-Holloway. Back in the early 1990s, as a member of the Fort Collins Police Department, Linda inherited the Peggy Hettrick homicide case and re-opened it as lead investigator. By declining to carry out an arrest warrant against Masters, she reaped the disapproval of supervisors and colleagues. With a "Masters or nobody" attitude, they refused to let her make a fresh start that would include other suspects. Consequently, the case was shelved for the second time.
Masters was arrested in 1998. Linda, retired by then from FCPD and working for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, again expressed her doubts to the prosecutors as they prepared for trial, but to no avail. After the conviction, she worked tirelessly and against great opposition to right
the wrong, always keeping in mind that the real murderer of Peggy Hettrick is still at large and unpunished. As an activist in the "Free Tim Masters" cause, she repeatedly risked her career and reputation.
Over the years and through many discouraging setbacks, she persisted, alienating the local law enforcement community of which she had been a respected member, losing friends, even setting aside personal needs and family concerns in order to fight the battle. It was Linda who found the Dutch scientists of the Independent Forensic Services and introduced them to Masters' post-conviction defense team. As we know, the absence of Masters' DNA on the victim's clothing, and the presence of someone else's, ultimately won his freedom.
Linda Wheeler-Holloway is a true hero, and a shining example not only for all women, but for all law enforcement professionals.
Looking Back on Broderick
by Pat Hartman
Here's a 1999 article from the Fort Collins Coloradoan, titled "Fort Collins investigator's diligence helped solve 1987 case." Jenn Farrell reports on the awards given by the Fort Collins Police Department, to Jim Broderick, Terry Gilmore, and Jolene Blair. The awards are for putting Tim Masters away.
Of course, the glory was somewhat dimmed, at award time, because Tim Masters, convicted four months before, was definitely filing an appeal. The prosecutors were worried that the conviction might not hold. The story ended with the line, "And if the case goes back to square one, that's where prosecutors and Broderick will pick it up."
Pretty funny, in a grotesque kind of way. The whole trouble with the case was that Broderick never was willing to start at Square One. He decided immediately that Tim Masters killed Peggy Hettrick, and never wavered, and used all his influence to drag the rest of the police department, and the DA's office, along into his delusion.
For two months, he pored over thousands of gruesome narratives and sketches seeking evidence, piecing together a case from psychological and circumstantial evidence.
Exactly. Broderick spent googobs of time, not just when he was officially on the case fulltime, but his spare time for years, constructing a story to specifically condemn Tim Masters. The Chief of Police, Dennis Harrison, even said so. "He devoted countless hours of personal time to this investigation in addition to his normal duties…"
There is nothing wrong with a cop being obsessed by a case. Unless he starts out with the wrong suspect, and adamantly refuses to listen to anyone who suggests a different theory. Then it is no longer healthy professional determination, but mania.
"Building a case" is one of this story's subheads, and that is exactly what Broderick did. Starting with the ideas suggested by FBI agents during the first days after the murder, and adding what he read in books written by profiler Roy Hazelwood, Broderick concocted the interlocking cluster of stories about the supposed psychological motivations of Tim Masters.
When he eventually found a compliant forensic psychologist in Reid Meloy, Broderick just handed over to him the whole fairy tale he had invented, and paid Meloy thousands and thousands of dollars to put a stamp of approval on it, because an "expert" was needed for the courtroom.
Here is a very important quotation, regarding Blair and Gilmore. Broderick told the reporter,
For another 2 months, he was holed away in a room, working with prosecutors, and scoured that evidence, looking for ways to tear it down, then at how to defend it when he took it into the courtroom.
It says here that Broderick could never have done it without the help of the prosecutors, who put a lot of time and effort into the case. Translation: a whole team of people were dedicated not to finding the killer of Peggy Hettrick, but to nailing Tim Masters, above all else. Isn't that kind of like a conspiracy? Sure sounds like one.
In more recent days, when questioned by Special Prosecutors and the like, Blair and Gilmore have consistently testified that they never knew this, that, or the other thing, about the case. They would like us to believe that the police withheld information from them, or lied to them. This is not plausible deniability. With two intense months of working together fulltime, as well as all the other collaboration between Broderick and the prosecutors, how could there possibly have been a single thing about the case that Blair and Gilmore did NOT know? What were they doing all that time, holed up in the war room? Playing strip poker?
Broderick told the reporter that the older a case gets, the harder it is to solve, because witnesses move out of town, or die. Yeah, well, the moving away and dying worked out in Broderick's favor, didn't it? Especially when it came to Clyde Masters. Tim's father would have testified that Tim never left his trailer home, the night of the murder. He died in April of 1996. By July, Broderick was pestering Roy Hazelwood to be his expert witness. By October, the investigation was reopened, starring Tim Masters as the one and only suspect.
Broderick also lamented that old cases are difficult because you can't go back and collect new evidence. But as we have learned since then, Broderick didn't let that get in his way. He just manufactured it. Like William Butler Yeats said of poetry, he "made it out of a mouthful of air." Broderick is quoted as saying the team "made the decision that there wasn't likely to be anything else that was going to come forward." Decoded, that sounds like it means something like, "We'll never get any more physical evidence, so let's just make up some complicated, fantastical theory."
Which they proceeded to do. The theory about how Tim Masters must have killed Peggy Hettrick, because she had red hair and his mother had red hair, and his mother died and he was mad at her for dying, so he had to kill a red-haired woman to punish his mother for dying. Or something. And all the convoluted, wacky stuff he invented out of Tim's drawings and writings. Which, truth be told, were pretty unexceptional for that age group. All the stuff about rehearsal fantasy and displaced matricide and how a shy kid was actually a dangerous "loner," and on and on ad nauseum.
It says here that when Broderick's job was changed from supervisor of Crimes Against Persons, and he took over the Drug Task Force, he "took the Hettrick case - and all the work he'd done - with him to see it to the end." Sounds like maybe he wasn't giving his job his full attention, still mooning over this old case. "Developing ownership," as it says here. Not a very good example for the troops.
An interesting detail is that other officers, who at various times expressed ideas about the Hettrick homicide, were told to mind their own business, because they were in Crimes Against Property or out on patrol or whatever. But nobody chastised Jim Broderick for clinging to the case when he was supposedly assigned in a different field.
The reporter duly notes that Broderick "shied away from taking credit." What? He went and made a Cold Case Files TV show about the case, full of disinformation. That statement is just as memorable as the one in Jolene Blair's closing argument, where she said nobody else in the world could have done the murder.
Carol Davy writes of the Peggy Hettrick page, and her memories of Peggy.
You gave light and love to her life, and stated that it could very well have been you or me... that is so true.
and goes on to say,
There in one of the photos was the American Indian, corn-silk raku vase that she just had to have from the store that I managed while she worked at Fashion Bar. We saw each other almost every day.
Peggy put this particular vase on lay-away… she was always short on cash! I had a 90-day program for purchase, however, after 6 months Peggy still hadn't paid for the vase in its entirety. I told her, "don't worry about it, whenever you can is fine. No big deal."
After about 9 months, Peggy came in to pay the remainder off, and she picked up this vase which she adored! I'll tell you , seeing this same vase in the photo stirred memories that were held deep within me. I noticed that she had placed two feathers in the vase. Peggy loved American Indian Art, and she was always in my store looking at the collection that we offered for sale to the public. I was a buyer/manager and had an affinity for American Indian Art as well, so we hit it off right away.
It gave me goose bumps to see this very vase sitting on her shelf! Thank you for that photo and for writing so eloquently about her and her dreams, aspirations, and of her life in general. She was a gem. She is still missed and thought of every day by those who knew her and lover her. I made a protest poster with her photo on it with her in that blue dress.