Masters in 1980
Masters in 2009
|Portrayed by|| Antal Kalik (1980) |
Lance Irwin (2009)
Cullen Masters was a hockey player for the Manayunk Cheiftains in 1980. In January 14 of that year, the Cheiftains played the Fishtown Dock Rats. During the game Masters, as a defenseman for the Cheiftans, had several physical run-in with opposing player Tommy Flanagan. Masters repeatedly cross-checked Tommy, earning him time in penalty box. Years later, he would say Tommy "kept getting in (his) face" and "didn't know when to quit." Masters threatened Tommy in front of several witnesses after he cross-checked Tommy for the final time, which led to Masters being ejected from the game and Tommy being granted a game-winning penalty shot.
Weeks later, on February 22nd, after the American hokcey team beat the Soviet team at the Winter Olympics, Masters's stature as a hockey player earned him the attention of a college girl from Spokane named Brenda. The two would spend the night in her Pinto, before she left in the morning.
That same night, however, Tommy was murdered on the ice at the Fishtown Garders hockey rink, beaten to death with a hockey stick. Masters soon found himself the prime suspect, due to his threats against Tommy and Tommy's blood being on his uniform from the game. Despite a 36-hour interrogation, Masters stuck to his story, though, unable to find Brenda, he was left with no one to corroborate his alibi.
Unable to link the stick that killed Tommy to Masters, and with no confession and no concrete evidence, the District Attorney's office eventually dropped the charges. Nevertheless, a cloud of suspicion would follow Masters for years. Tommy's older brother Sean Flanagan would harass Masters for months afterward.
By 2009, Masters was the father of an eleven year-old son, Jason Masters, who had inherited his father's love of hockey. When Masters went to sign up his son for junior league hockey, the managers, aware of Masters' reputation, asked him to leave, disappointing his son.
Determined to redeem himself in his son's eyes, Masters continued his search for Brenda, search the internet, and even hiring a private investigator. He finally located her living as Brenda Patterson, a wife and mother in Maine. Though less than thrilled when Masters contacted her, she agreed to vouch for him that night. Masters then approched Detectives Lilly Rush and Nick Vera with his alibi. Giving the two skeptical detectives Brenda's number, he pleaded with them to reopen the case.
The investigation would eventually lead to Tommy's true killer, Dwight Barnes, clearing Masters' name at last after nearly thirty years. He would later play in an exhibition game with both Vera and Sean, with his son Jason looking on.