Sketchy evidence raises doubt
REVISITING A CONVICTION
This happened in Fort Collins, where a detective clung to his belief that a 15-year-old boy committed the crime, despite no physical evidence. In a county where prosecutors opposed saving DNA, let alone testing it. In a state where the law doesn't create a duty to preserve forensic evidence.
The result, as believed by three former Fort Collins police detectives and a former Colorado Bureau of Investigation director: An innocent man goes to prison for life, and the real killer moves on.
The police requested that he come to the police station the next day, Feb. 12, for further questioning. Sure, he told them. But he didn't know Hettrick, and he didn't see or hear anything before her death, he said.
Just procedure, they said.
Without consulting an attorney, he and his dad did exactly what police asked. They allowed detectives to search their home and Tim's school locker, where they scooped up his horror writings and sketches, his survival-knife collection and Army flashlight with a red-tinted lens. His dad would stay outside the interrogation room, not understanding that juveniles are psychologically vulnerable to suggestive cues and coercion.
After reading him his rights, officers prodded Masters to talk about killing, to think like a killer, to talk about what weapons he might use and where he might put a body.
Interrogator No. 1: "We know that you did it, Tim."
Masters: "I didn't do it. ... I've seen people on TV sent to jail for things they didn't do."
Interrogator No. 2, at one point making stabbing motions in the air: "You did it. I'm not accusing you, I'm telling you. You did it."
Masters shakes his head and continues to deny involvement.
Interrogator No. 3, getting angry: "Tell the truth!"
Masters: "I have told the truth."
By the sixth hour, Masters was sweating, nervously chewing a piece of gum.
It was investigator Jim Broderick's turn. Broderick, a deep-voiced, no-nonsense cop with zero tolerance for unsolved cases, had a reputation as a hardball interrogator, Wheeler said.
He started out friendly with Masters, offering food and drinks. Then he moved into what police found in the teen's bedroom, including the knife collection, which had been cobbled together in part from relatives' gifts.
Masters talked about how one could cut through trees, even the fuselage of an airplane.
Broderick mentioned that such a knife "does a lot of damage when you stab somebody."
"That'd be kind of hard, though, to pull it back," Masters responded, recalling a scene from a movie shown at school, "All Quiet on the Western Front." In it, a character chastises his soldiers for serrating their bayonets because such alteration makes removing the weapon from a body difficult.
The remark stuck with Broderick.
Within the next hour, the detective was in Masters' face, telling him to come clean about how he fulfilled a fantasy by killing Hettrick.
"Why can't you just say it? Why is it so hard for you to tell me?" Broderick said. "... You got to admit it when it's over. People get killed in battle, right? Their friends die! A piece in you just died just a minute ago. It's over. You're not free anymore!"
But they had no hard evidence against Masters.
They didn't do an in-depth interview with Challes, the teacher who said he was a normal kid with no violent tendencies.
They wouldn't find a trace of forensic evidence at his house or on his belongings - no blood or hairs from Hettrick.
They would discover that the two hairs found on Hettrick didn't match Masters. They would find that the fingerprints in her purse also didn't match him.
Wandering on foot
No one knows for certain how Hettrick ended up in the field along Landings Drive that early morning. She may simply have been strolling back to her apartment. Or she may have been abducted elsewhere, then dropped there.
She had spent most of the late hours Feb. 10 wandering on foot. From The Fashion Bar, where she got off work at 9 p.m., she walked to the Laughing Dog Saloon, then to her apartment, then to The Prime Minister, where she saw her boyfriend, Matt Zoellner, a local car salesman, drinking with another woman.
They exchanged only a few words, Zoellner recalled later. He remembers her walking out the door alone sometime between 1 and 1:30 a.m.
To some of her friends, Hettrick seemed stuck in adolescence. That could make her fun to be with, but it also worried them. She could just drift off with strangers. When men wouldn't leave her alone, she hoped Matt would intervene, and "I would fall into his arms, thankfully," she wrote in one letter.
Police ruled Zoellner out as a suspect. His date vouched for his whereabouts.
Eventually, police ruled out dozens of suspects, including known area sex offenders. Even Brent Brents, years later exposed as Denver's most prolific serial rapist, made the list until they discovered he was locked up that night.
Then there were the suspects without names.
Like the man who showed up at The Prime Minister two weeks after the murder, making threatening gestures at a red-haired employee resembling Hettrick.
Teresa Safris was selling tickets in the front of the restaurant for an entertainment act inside when she heard a strange voice behind her.
A man with a "bodybuilder" physique, she said, was glaring at her. He pulled an icicle from behind his back and made several stabbing motions in the air.
Then, he was gone.
She described him as 30 years old, with green or blue eyes, sandy hair and a square jaw. Police never identified him.
In search of a motive
They called it the "blitz attack."
Embraced by Broderick, the theory goes like this: Hettrick was ambushed and stabbed from behind as she walked down Landings Drive. Then she was dragged into the field, where the killer changed knives to sexually mutilate her.
The fact that Masters lived only 100 feet away fit nicely with his theory. It gave him the "opportunity," Broderick believed. He could have spotted her from his bedroom window, crawled out and jumped Hettrick. He also owned a red-tinted flashlight that, Broderick reasoned, he could have held between his teeth as he went about his mutilation.
Now, all Broderick needed was a motive.
The officer talked about the odd vibes he got from Masters, the strange coincidences surrounding him. Why would he have a collection of survival knives? Why, the day after the body was found, would he have a newspaper with a story about Hettrick's death on his dresser next to the knives? Why would Hettrick's body be found within a day of the fourth anniversary of the boy's mother's death?
To Broderick, these facts seemed too compelling to just be coincidences. But it was Masters' drawings that really spooked him. He and others came to believe that one doodle, featuring a blade tearing into a diamond shape, was a vagina mutilation. Masters says it was simply a knife tearing into an inanimate object, noting there are no anatomical details such as hair or body parts around it.
Police also read sinister motives into sketches Masters says he made after the interrogation, including one showing a person dragging someone, and another featuring a map of the field.
As Masters and others tell it, word had spread around school that he had been pulled in to talk with the cops. Classmates such as Wayne Lawson nagged him with questions. What happened? What do you know about the crime?
So Masters drew sketches for them, such as a map showing where the body was in the field. Lawson later verified Masters' account.
Broderick didn't buy these explanations.
"He was fixated, just fixated on Masters," Wheeler says of Broderick. "He was fitting facts to a hypothesis. That's not how it's supposed to work."
Broderick says he was merely assembling circumstantial evidence, which he describes as a standard investigative approach.
Wheeler was adamant at the time that other suspects should be a major focus. She also believed an FBI profile of the killer should be developed, but her supervisors didn't allow it.
Detective Troy Krenning believed it improbable that a boy could have pulled off such a sophisticated, fetishistic killing.
On the first anniversary of Hettrick's death, Krenning was instructed to sit in a mobile home opposite Masters' house to perform surveillance of the crime scene in case the killer came back.
"My perspective was to get off Masters and let's take a look at maybe someone else," Krenning recalls. "There's 6.3 billion people in this world. We seem to be focused on one."
In 1992, after Fort Collins police solved one of the city's last cold cases, Broderick was lamenting the fact that the Hettrick case still languished on the cold-case list, Krenning recalls.
"Masters was involved," Broderick kept saying.
"Bullshit," Krenning kept replying, according to court testimony.
That same year, Wheeler had been appointed lead investigator into Hettrick's murder case. Broderick and others told her that Masters had been on the verge of cracking during the interrogations.
Wheeler replayed the seven hours of videotaped interrogations. She wasn't convinced. "I just didn't see any deceptive behavior," she says.
That year, a former high school student dropped a bombshell on the detectives: Shortly after the crime, Masters had apparently talked about Hettrick's body missing a nipple, information that had never been made public.
They drew up an arrest warrant and flew to Philadelphia, where Masters was serving in the Navy aboard the USS Constitution.
Once again, Masters agreed to be interviewed. Yes, he had known about the nipple. A girl in his art class had told him about it, he said.
Frantically, the detectives checked out the story. It was true. As it turns out, the girl was a member of a teenage Explorer Scouts group police enlisted to scour the field for Hettrick's body parts. "We don't do that anymore," Broderick says now.
But Broderick kept battering Masters with questions, at one point forcing him to break down in tears, Wheeler recalls. "I'm not comfortable with this," she remembers saying.
Today, Wheeler regrets not being able to derail Broderick's focus.
"This theory of Masters being the killer was going south in a big way," she says.
She told then-District Attorney Terry Gilmore about her concerns when she returned from Philadelphia, she said. Gilmore, now a district judge, declined to respond to an interview request.
In 1995, Wheeler became an agent with the CBI. Masters was sailing around the world, learning to become an aircraft mechanic, without any discipline problems or violent offenses.
"I think that's a camera lens"
That same year, 100 yards east of where Hettrick's body had been found, a college student who was house-sitting for a doctor and his family heard a strange noise in the basement bathroom.
"I'm like, what is that?" Lynn Burkhardt recalls thinking as she stood in front of the bathroom mirror. "So I followed it down to a vent by the toilet. I'm looking in there, and I'm thinking I see something and thought, 'I think that's a camera lens."'
Using a paper clip, she and a friend broke into the adjacent room, a spare office used by Dr. Richard Hammond, a prominent eye surgeon in Fort Collins.
Inside, they found a secret, obsessive world - one of surreptitious cameras triggered by light switches, boxes of computer electronics and massive amounts of pornography, mainly close-up images shot through the vent, directly at women sitting on his toilet or standing in front of his mirrors.
The police soon raided 401 Skysail Lane, confiscating everything. When the 44-year-old Hammond returned from vacation with his family, he was arrested on sexual-exploitation charges. His wife, Rebecca, said she had no knowledge of the taping.
Friends described Hammond as the portrait of politeness and professionalism. So they were shocked to see the headlines in the local paper about his arrest. Up to that point, he led an idyllic life as father of two teenage children and the husband of a CSU architectural student.
Colleagues admired his specialized surgical skills. His partner, Dr. William Schachtman, remembered his deftness with the scalpel. Even Hammond's personal hobbies required precision handwork: woodworking, metalworking and jewelry making.
But some dimensions of Hammond's life were a mystery. He kept rigid daily schedules so he could fit in long hours at work and bodybuilding at the gym. He often left town on secretive trips or disappeared for hours.
His wife told police how he battled insomnia and how she would find him working out of his basement office in the middle of the night. Once, when his basement flooded, his wife watched him first rush some mysterious containers out of the house. Around the time of his arrest, according to one investigative report, his wife grew alarmed that he was collecting guns and knives.
At the police department, Detective David Mickelson and Krenning reviewed Hammond's videos to establish exactly what crimes the doctor had committed.
Both Krenning and Mickelson will never forget the images they witnessed over and over.
"Video after video, there were these highly calibrated shots zooming into the vaginal areas of women on his toilet," Mickelson says. "These were extreme close-ups. They were almost microscopic."
Other hidden cameras captured women's breasts as they stood at the mirror.
After bonding out of jail, Hammond checked himself into the Mountain Crest Hospital in Fort Collins for counseling. He talked little but filled out reports disclosing an unhappy life, lonely childhood and voyeuristic tendencies since his teen years. Within days, the hospital released him.
The DA's office, meanwhile, chose to call in an independent prosecutor from Weld County, citing a potential conflict in the case. The issue was never explained publicly, although it is believed that relatives of staffers in the DA's office were found on Hammond's videotapes.
Police kept discovering more secrets. They found a storage unit Hammond had rented containing thousands of pornographic materials and containers with sex toys and jewelry. He also had a secret bank account, secret apartment and a secret identity, according to police and records.
Within days of his arrest, however, they were called to a La Quinta Motor Inn in north Denver. There, they found Hammond dead, an IV needle containing cyanide residue sticking out of his thigh. "My death should satisfy the media's thirst for blood," he wrote in the March 1995 suicide note.
The autopsy report noted that Hammond had shaved his entire body, a strategy used by some predators to avoid leaving remnants of themselves at crime scenes and also used by some bodybuilders. A tool with foldout knives was looped around his belt.
After viewing several of the videotapes, Mickelson started making connections: the doctor's close proximity to the Hettrick crime scene, and his obsession with women's genitalia and breasts.
He told Tony Sanchez, the lead detective in the Hammond case, that Hammond should be investigated for Hettrick's murder.
But Sanchez brushed his remarks aside, he recalls. Mickelson never heard back from him or Sanchez's boss, who happened to be Jim Broderick, the supervisor for crimes-against- persons investigations.
In August 1995, investigators had slated for destruction every piece of evidence they seized from Hammond.
"Don't do it, save the evidence," Mickelson recalls telling Sanchez after he heard about the plan, knowing that they had reviewed only a small portion of the tapes.
Sanchez, without elaborating, said there were legal issues behind the destruction, Mickelson remembers.
"The seized evidence burned for approximately 8 1/2 hours," according to an Aug. 15, 1995, report by Sanchez.
Krenning, who remembers Mickelson "making noise" to superiors, can't believe they burned every piece. "I can't recall one other case where the evidence was taken to a landfill, mashed up with a grater, then burned - all within a six-month period."
Had Hammond been formally investigated and the evidence preserved, detectives might have been intrigued by parallels with the Hettrick case.
They might have run across Teresa Safris' police report, in which she describes the square-jawed bodybuilder who fit Hammond's description. They might have searched Hammond's warehouse specifically for Hettrick's body parts. They might have tested his sex toys for DNA, as well as the knife on his belt. They might have matched his hairs with the two found on Hettrick.
Says Mickelson, who never believed Masters was Hettrick's killer: "I just wanted to see whether Hettrick's picture was in those videos somewhere."
He adds that he didn't know who ordered the destruction.
It was Jim Broderick.
Still locked on Masters
Nine weeks after Hammond's possessions went up in smoke, Broderick was still locked on Masters. He phoned a forensic psychologist in San Diego named Reid Meloy.
Broderick wanted him to study Masters' artwork.
Meloy had developed a reputation as an expert witness on sexual homicides. He even disclosed a deeply personal fascination with the subject, according to court testimony, saying he himself had sexually sadistic fantasies.
Some of his approaches have been considered controversial: He was a proponent of a theory many psychological experts consider fraught with danger - that artwork can be used to interpret a person's criminal motivations.
Meloy agreed to look at Masters' drawings.
The analysis turned out to be Masters' undoing.
"The killing of Ms. Hettrick translated Tim Masters' grandiose fantasy into reality," wrote Meloy, who drew this conclusion without even interviewing Masters.
Meloy had given Broderick a motive: This was a displaced sexual matricide, stemming from Masters' feelings of abandonment by his dead mother.
Meloy concluded from Masters' drawings and stories that he fit the profile of a killer because he's a loner, he comes from an isolated or deprived background, and he harbored hidden hostility toward authorities as well as violent fantasies.
By 1998, Masters was honorably discharged from the Navy and living in California.
"I'm basically kicking back, relaxing," Masters recalls. Then he heard a knock at the door. "Jim Broderick walked into the house and says, 'Tim Masters, you're under arrest for the murder of Peggy Hettrick."'
Focus on Masters' artwork
At the time, DNA analysis allowed scientists to zero in on smaller and smaller crime-scene specimens, even capturing skin particles that may have rubbed off the hands of killers.
By then and into 1999, police were regularly testing clothing and other items for the cells of culprits. In Fort Collins, they still had Hettrick's black coat, shoes, blouse, panties, socks and jeans.
Broderick, however, clung to the psychological analysis of the California psychologist.
"We're talking about fantasy that becomes obsessive," then-DA Terry Gilmore declared in his opening statement at Masters' trial in March 1999.
During the trial, prosecutors described how Masters' footprints showed that he had veered off his regular bus-stop route Feb. 11 to step within 6 feet of Hettrick's body. They said that was characteristic of killers who often return to the scene. They talked of his knives being "consistent" with her wounds. They described the detailed nature of the wounds and that Masters' knives contained a sharp-enough edge to perform such cuttings. The fact that he was an artist allowed him to cut in detail.
A blood-spatter expert, Tom Bevel, testified that the bloodstains were consistent with the police theory of the killing.
They bombarded jurors with blown-up images of Masters' doodles, projected onto the wall, one after another, and photos of Hettrick's mutilated body. They did not show the interrogation videotape.
Masters' attorneys, Eric Fischer and Nathan Chambers, assailed prosecutors' case as rooted in junk science, presenting another doctor's testimony to bash Meloy's theory that his artwork exposed a killer.
They were convinced of their client's innocence. They believed he would be acquitted. How, in the end, could jurors convict without any physical evidence?
But Fischer saw fear in their eyes. They were looking at a grown, muscular man in Masters, not an adolescent who doodled in his notebook.
"They convicted him because they were afraid to let him loose," Fischer says.
Masters was sent to Buena Vista prison - "beautiful view" in Spanish - perched 8,000 feet up in the Rocky Mountains.
All he could see outside his cell window was a wall.
Guilty verdict upheld, 4-3
By one vote, Masters' guilty verdict squeaked by the Colorado Supreme Court on appeal.
Four justices said the proceedings followed the rules.
Three justices called the trial grossly unfair.
"Most of these writings and drawings have nothing to do with this grisly murder," wrote Justice Michael Bender in the dissent. "The sheer volume of the inadmissible evidence so overwhelmed the admissible evidence that the defendant could not have a fair trial. ... There exists a substantial risk that the defendant was convicted not for what he did, but for who he is."
Bender also said the DA's case improperly dressed itself as science, although little consensus existed in the psychology field about the reliability of such methods.
Exoneration bid builds
In 2004, Masters received a letter from a Denver accountant who had watched a television program on Broderick's skill in cracking the case.
"I just don't understand how you could have been convicted," wrote Taylor Marris. Marris began looking into the case out of personal interest, calling various participants to talk about it. He became convinced an innocent man had been railroaded.
"I came to believe that this is a person with real feelings who has been ridiculed and humiliated and violated beyond anything that anyone could imagine," Marris says.
Marris persuaded Wheeler to become part of an exoneration bid.
By then, the state had appointed Greeley defense attorney Maria Liu to represent Masters.
Masters, who had served five years at Buena Vista, was pursuing another appeal on grounds of ineffective counsel. The state appointed Liu, who embraced cases involving juvenile crimes because "they're the underdogs in the legal system."
After burrowing into the massive case file, Liu was astonished that Masters could be convicted on the basis of his doodles. Then she learned of Wheeler's doubts and of Mickelson's efforts to steer the probe to Hammond.
During a prison visit, she saw nothing but sincerity in Masters' demeanor.
"This guy is innocent," Liu said in a phone call to the state's former chief public defender, David Wymore. "We have to get him out."
Among the first steps they took: a motion to preserve all evidence in the case.
It was immediately opposed by the DA's office - the first of many motions from the DA's office to prevent the defense team's access to DNA testing.
"There is no statutory duty to preserve evidence," the prosecution stressed in one petition.
Liu was exasperated: "In the United States, in this day and age, you shouldn't have to fight to preserve evidence in a homicide case."
Later, the defense team would learn that the two hairs found in Hettrick's footwear were missing, as well as the photos of the fingerprints. Authorities also lost track of her bracelet, which may have been grabbed by the killer.
Fortunately, most of Hettrick's clothing was still in storage. Wymore stressed that they must "prosecute Master's innocence," which meant an aggressive attack on the conviction on every front, especially through advanced DNA testing that authorities had not exploited in 1999.
The team kept digging. And the magnitude of what Liu described as the miscarriage of justice against Masters hit home in a meeting with a Fort Collins obstetrician-gynecologist.
Liu showed Dr. Warren James the pictures of Hettrick's wounds. A look of recognition crossed James' face.
He knew these cuttings.
"Ms. Hettrick underwent a surgical procedure known as a partial vulvectomy," James told them. The procedure, he said, requires a "high degree of surgical skill and high-grade surgical instrument."
Moreover, it couldn't have been done without good lighting and placing Hettrick's legs in a frog position. "I find it highly unlikely that a 15-year-old could perform this precise surgical procedure," James says.
He told The Denver Post that even he would have difficulty making these cuttings under the circumstances spelled out by Masters' prosecutors.
The implications of James' remarks were huge.
His assessment not only excluded Masters as the killer, it relocated the crime scene to a room with bright lighting. Not only did Masters not have surgical training, he was too young to drive.
If known years ago, this information could have kept Masters out of prison. It also could have led police to other suspects, including Hammond.
The clues were there: a July 29, 1998, Fort Collins police report shows that Allen, the medical examiner, called the wounds surgical. The description came in a conversation with Broderick.
Then there was the strange fact that her body was so clean. An expert later told the legal team that a "sponge line" appeared to run down the side of her body.
Her body was washed, says Barie Goetz, a former CBI lab director and noted crime-scene expert who joined the legal team.
Also, after Goetz and others tried to drag Liu, the same size as Hettrick, through the field, he came to believe that two people were involved in Hettrick's murder.
"This person would have to be very strong to do it on his own, not the 110-pound weakling that Tim was," Goetz says.
Meticulous DNA testing
Meanwhile, Wheeler persuaded Masters' legal team to hire two forensic scientists in the Netherlands, Richard and Selma Eikelenboom, known for their meticulous crime-scene analyses.
Their goals: to show that Masters' DNA was never on Hettrick and to identify the cellular makeup of the real killer by targeting spots on her clothing where he would have grabbed her, leaving skin, such as the inner band of her panties.
By mid-2005, Liu and Wymore were filing a flurry of motions seeking access to evidence for testing in Larimer County District Court and attacking Masters' conviction on multiple levels, including how the police never disclosed that Hammond, police records show, was considered a possible suspect.
The DA, now Larry Abrahamson, and his deputy chief, Cliff Reidel, kept fighting the moves, saying the Masters team wasn't following proper procedures.
Throughout two years of legal dueling, CPA Marris and up to 30 Masters family members filled seats in the courtroom directly behind Liu and Wymore. (Masters' dad died in the mid-1990s.) On the opposite side, Broderick usually sat alone behind the prosecutors, holding trial exhibits and Masters' doodles.
Masters' first victory came in November. Judge Joseph Weatherby sided with him, approving DNA testing in the Netherlands.
It came after Richard Eikelenboom took the stand to discuss the target points on Hettrick's clothing. He said he would primarily use tape to try to retrieve the killer's cells, a method he preferred to cotton-tip swabbing, the predominant U.S. method.
In the absence of any state law or guidelines to manage the DNA test process, Weatherby stressed that both sides agree on a protocol.
But Abrahamson and Reidel went over the judge's head to the state Supreme Court to block the testing. The high court refused to hear it.
In late November, excited about the prospect of finally sending Hettrick's clothing to the Netherlands, Wymore and Liu began focusing on other legal matters, including crafting a protocol for the DNA collection and testing.
"Like an Oklahoma land grab"
That same month, Liu opened an e-mail from Reidel, the deputy prosecutor, that she had missed days earlier.
In it, he mentioned that his office and the Fort Collins police were taking Hettrick's clothing to the CBI lab to attempt their own DNA collection.
The Masters team was incredulous. After a year of opposing DNA testing, after Eikelenboom had described his own delicate collection strategies, after the judge's insistence on a protocol, they just grabbed the evidence and hauled it to CBI?
Wymore exploded at the next hearing: "They took the evidence out of this case, took it down to CBI and conducted God only knows what? In my opinion, destruction of the sample, destruction of the evidence. As far as I'm concerned, it's sort of like an Oklahoma land grab on the evidence."
Behind him, Masters' relatives buried their faces in their hands.
Reidel defended the move, saying the prosecution needed to retain some of the skin-cell evidence for its own testing. He also cited a previous remark by the judge that the police always maintained the option of doing their own testing.
The judge corrected him, saying he didn't authorize their move.
Moreover, a CBI analyst testified that she used cotton swabs - not tape - to try to collect skin cells from half of everything.
Aghast, the Masters team retreated to their offices to draft a series of motions for disqualifying the Larimer County DA's office from the case for "deliberately attempting to destroy exculpatory evidence in violation of court orders" and in violation of Masters' constitutional rights. They also cited two years' worth of "stonewalling, delaying and obstructing" in order to preserve a conviction.
A court ruling wouldn't be required. In May, Abrahamson and Reidel agreed to step off the case, given the appearance of impropriety. They denied doing anything improper. Adams County DA Don Quick was assigned to take over.
About the same time, Masters' attorneys received a report back from Bevel, the prosecution's blood-spatter expert at trial. Goetz had presented him with additional crime-scene photos of the body and bloodstains Bevel had never seen.
"I have serious concerns and question why much of this information was not supplied to me for consideration," Bevel wrote, saying he believed, based on the additional information, that the crime took place at another location before the body was taken to the field.
High point in his career
Today, Broderick says he's 100 percent certain Masters is guilty.
He calls it a high point in his career, and he still talks about the things that gave him pause: Masters' statement about the difficulty of pulling a serrated knife from a body, the newspaper on his dresser next to his knife collection.
As for Hammond, there was no reason to investigate him for Hettrick's murder, Broderick says. He contends that Wheeler and the Masters team are doing just what he's accused of - fitting facts to a hypothesis.
"Where's the violence? Show me that pattern of violence," he says. "We searched (Hammond's) entire house, and there was nothing to link him to Hettrick's murder."
He concedes he may have made a mistake by not pursuing DNA skin- cell testing. And he says he never talked to Allen about whether someone with surgical skill must have inflicted Hettrick's wounds.
"I can assure you if Dr. Allen's finding was that only a surgeon could have made those cuttings, that would have been forensic information he would have certainly told us," Broderick says.
Allen has declined to comment to The Post.
Who destroyed Hammond's evidence? And why?
"I had a lot to do with that," Broderick says. "It was an ethical decision. Should we re-victimize all these women by telling them they are victims? So it really was an effort to protect them, to preserve these victims' rights."
Overall, his investigation of Masters was "not a railroad job." It was simply a strong circumstantial case, he says.
A full genetic profile
Over the past five months, Richard Eikelenboom has tried to crack the DNA cryptogram that lines the surface of Hettrick's clothing, hoping that the CBI or the Fort Collins police didn't destroy all the biological remnants.
He meticulously cut and taped more than 50 points on her clothing.
Throughout the process, no DNA profile of Masters appeared, says Goetz, who witnessed part of the process.
But Eikelenboom found his quarry in the interior lining of Hettrick's panties: the skin of an unknown man - a full genetic profile.
It's exactly where he and the Masters team predicted the killer's fingers would have curled.
The profile could be submitted - as agreed to by the new DA team - to the FBI's national DNA database for matches with archived sex offenders, and tested against Hammond's DNA, if any still exists.
"God help us that we've put an innocent person in prison for a crime he didn't commit," says Krenning, who was told of the DNA results by The Post.
"Even compounding that, we've allowed a killer to go unscathed."
Staff writer Susan Greene and staff researcher Monnie Nilsson contributed to this report.
Staff writer Miles Moffeit can be reached at 303-954-1415 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the story
The Denver Post reviewed thousands of records linked to Tim Masters' conviction and monitored the largely unnoticed months-long battle over DNA testing and evidence preservation unfolding in a Larimer County courtroom. Independent legal and scientific experts helped corroborate this story.