Two women were murdered in a downtown Nashua apartment on the night of Oct. 2, 1988. Two men who lived below the women were arrested for the brutal killings, but one went free after three hung juries in a row, and the other was never charged after a court threw out much of the evidence. Two decades later, both men were arrested again in Canada and charged with the killings.
A Canadian judge has ruled that two men charged in a decades-old double murder will be extradited to the United States to face charges.
A superior court judge in Montreal granted the extradition order following a hearing on Sept. 13. Anthony Barnaby and David Caplin have 30 days to appeal the decision, according to court records.
Barnaby, 43, and Caplin, 49, were arrested in April and charged, again, with murdering Charlene Ranstrom, 48, and Brenda Warner, 32, in their 7 Mason St. apartment on Oct. 2, 1988.
Three juries failed to either convict or acquit Barnaby during trials in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Charges against Caplin were dropped before he went to trial.
Judge Jerry Zigman ruled in his decision that Caplin and Barnaby’s argument that they should not be extradited because of the previous court proceedings wasn’t something he could rule on.
U.S. attorneys argued that there is new forensic evidence in the form of DNA analysis and new witnesses to set apart any future trials from those held two decades ago, according to court records.
Barnaby lived on the floor beneath the two women. Caplin was staying with him at the time, having arrived from Canada a few days before the murders, police said.
Police found plenty of physical evidence inside the apartment almost 23 years ago following the brutal stabbing deaths. Barnaby confessed but later withdrew his confession. He was tried three times on charges of being an accomplice to murder in connection with the killings, but juries deadlocked each time.
Officials dropped first-degree murder charges against Caplin before his 1990 trial after courts threw out much of the evidence.
Now, police hope advances in DNA testing, along with further investigation and new information from new and old witnesses, will be enough to put the men behind bars.
Barnaby was arrested in Montreal, and Caplin was arrested at New Carlisle Jail in New Carlisle, Quebec, in April. Both men grew up on the Restigouche Indian Reservation in Quebec and are members of the Micmac Tribe, according to police.
Both men are charged with two counts of first-degree murder, Attorney General Michael Delaney said, which carries a sentence of life in prison without parole.
The investigation was reopened in October when Nashua police Detective Sgt. Frank Bourgeois contacted Assistant Attorney General Will Delker, who was head of the state Cold Case Unit at the time. Bourgeois attended a Cold Case Investigation School in September 2010, according to his affidavit, and started talking with his bosses about Nashua’s cold cases when he returned.
“It got the wheels turning, I guess,” he said. “We don’t forget about any of our cases, but in this case, there were two victims.”
There was blood all over Ranstrom and Warner’s apartment when police searched it following the Oct. 2, 1988, murder. Police found blood stains on two brown-handled steak knives, on a pair of socks, on a 4-foot length of two-by-four, a piece of terry cloth towel, and a piece of paper on a desk. There was blood in the living room and kitchen and, of course, the bedroom where the women were bound and stabbed repeatedly, according to a new affidavit Bourgeois filed in Hillsborough County Superior Court.
Police also found hairs in the women’s apartment and a jean jacket with blood stains on them, according to the affidavit.
A number of those pieces of evidence were retested by three forensic laboratories after police reopened the investigation into the murders in October, according to the affidavit.
An independent lab, Bode Technologies, determined that the blood on the denim jacket was consistent with Warner’s DNA and hair on the jacket was consistent with Caplin’s DNA. It also determined that blood found on the white athletic socks had to have come from two men, according to Bourgeois’ affidavit.
The FBI forensic lab tested a number of hairs recovered at the crime scene, five of which proved to be consistent with Caplin’s DNA, according to the affidavit.
Bourgeois and Detective Robert Macleod visited the Restigouche Indian Reservation on Oct. 24 and spoke with Melissa Metallic at the Listuguj Police Department. She said that a week or two before the killings, Barnaby told her and her then-boyfriend Dion Methot that “he was going to kill two lesbians in Nashua that lived above him and cut them up with a chain saw,” according to the affidavit.
Metallic said she didn’t come forward after hearing about the murders because Barnaby and Caplin were already in jail, according to the affidavit.
Police also spoke with Michelle Gerling, who testified during Barnaby’s trials as a 14-year-old. She said back then she didn’t tell police that the day of the murder Barnaby told her “we are going to kill them,” referring to Ranstrom and Warner. Gerling said she didn’t offer that information during the trial because she was scared and told police she has felt guilty for not telling someone and maybe preventing the murders, according to the affidavit.
Police also spoke with Frank Metallic, who can corroborate Barnaby’s disputed confession to police by testifying about details of the murder Barnaby revealed to him before talking to police, according to the affidavit.
Metallic didn’t cooperate with police during the initial investigation because he didn’t want to return to New Hampshire to testify. He told Bourgeois he is now willing to testify against both men, according to the affidavit.
Mark Sisti represented Barnaby at all three of his trials in the 1980s and early 1990s. He said he wasn’t surprised at the new evidence police highlighted in the affidavit.
“I’m unimpressed so far,” Sisti said. “This is the same case where they believed they had proof beyond a reasonable doubt three times before, and the jury disagreed with them.”
This article was written by Joseph Cote and published by the Nashua Telegraph on September 20, 2011.
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