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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Suspect back in court for Nashua murders; retired detective recalls long interviews with Barnaby 

By DEAN SHALHOUP
Staff Writer

NASHUA - With each statement he gave to police in the days following the Oct. 3, 1988, murders of two Nashua women, certain segments of Anthony Barnaby's account of the hours leading up to and after the killings differed from the previous version, according to testimony at Barnaby's suppression hearing on Tuesday.

Wayne MacDonald, at the time a Nashua police detective who would retire as deputy chief in 2008, traced in great detail his dealings with Barnaby. At the time, Barnaby was a 21-year-old mason's tender who police believe acted in concert with fellow Canadian David Caplin in the beating and stabbing deaths of a lesbian couple the men say they hated and about whom they would often use derogatory terms. ...

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NASHUA - With each statement he gave to police in the days following the Oct. 3, 1988, murders of two Nashua women, certain segments of Anthony Barnaby's account of the hours leading up to and after the killings differed from the previous version, according to testimony at Barnaby's suppression hearing on Tuesday.

Wayne MacDonald, at the time a Nashua police detective who would retire as deputy chief in 2008, traced in great detail his dealings with Barnaby. At the time, Barnaby was a 21-year-old mason's tender who police believe acted in concert with fellow Canadian David Caplin in the beating and stabbing deaths of a lesbian couple the men say they hated and about whom they would often use derogatory terms.

MacDonald spent the majority of the six-hour hearing under questioning by state Assistant Attorney General Susan Morrell, who is prosecuting the case with Assistant Attorneys General Patrick Queenan and John Kennedy.

Tuesday's proceedings marked the first of four days set aside for testimony on a motion to suppress statements by Barnaby, which his attorneys, Mark Sisti and Alan J. Cronheim, filed in September.

Testimony is scheduled to resume at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Judge Jacalyn Colburn's courtroom at Hillsborough County Superior Court South.

Barnaby, now 49, and Caplin, 54, are each charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder.

They were re-indicted on the charges in 2011, more than 20 years after they went free after three juries failed to convict Barnaby, and the state dropped its case against Caplin for lack of evidence.

They were the chief, and to date only, suspects in the beating and stabbing deaths of Charlene Ranstrom and Brenda Warner, partners whose bodies were found early the morning of Oct. 3, 1988, in their Mason Street apartment, which is upstairs from where Barnaby lived and Caplin occasionally slept.

Sisti, who at times shook his head while listening to MacDonald's responses on Tuesday, argues in the suppression motion that police, in interviewing Barnaby at length in the days after the murders, violated his constitutional rights by detaining him without probable cause and "relentlessly" interrogating him for more than 20 hours in order to coerce him to confess, according to the motion.

Also, Sisti claims, police chose not to video or audio record the sessions with Barnaby on orders from their commander, then-Nashua Police Capt. Paul Goupil.

It wasn't recorded, MacDonald said Tuesday, because it wasn't the Nashua Police Department's practice in 1988 to record interviews with witnesses and suspects.

Detectives did sometimes use dictaphones, he said, which required secretaries to transcribe the content into typewritten pages.

Barnaby's interviews with MacDonald and other detectives involved a combination of verbal, handwritten and typewritten segments. He described the nearly 30-year-old method "time consuming," noting that his lack of proficiency at the typewriter sometimes lengthened his interviews.

MacDonald said the first of his series of interviews with Barnaby began shortly after 10 a.m. Oct. 3, about three hours after the women's bodies were found.

Barnaby said in one of his statements to police that he had "a good relationship" with Warner and Ranstrom, and sometimes went upstairs to have a beer with them.

But two people who lived with Barnaby told other detectives that wasn't the case, and that he "disliked them ... called them dikes."

Barnaby, according to MacDonald's testimony, went from denying any connection to the murders, to having learned that Caplin allegedly killed the women, to admitting he was there but didn't participate, and eventually to admitting he stabbed one of the women and discarded a knife while fleeing their apartment.

MacDonald said that later on Oct. 3, Barnaby agreed to allow police to take his clothing, so the two drove to the Mason Street scene. They had to wait an hour or so because other detectives were conducting a search of the apartments, he added.

Barnaby "seemed pretty attentive" to what was going on, and at one point asked MacDonald whether detectives were taking fingerprints. When he answered yes, MacDonald said Barnaby "made a comment to me" that got his attention.

"He said (the victims) 'were stabbed and their hands were tied,' " MacDonald said. Asked how he knew that, Barnaby said then-Sgt. Robert Hodges told him during an interview.

"I knew Sgt. Hodges never said that," MacDonald added, indicating that detectives, by then, were growing more and more confident that Barnaby was involved in the killings.

Late on Oct. 6, more than three days after the killings and after what Barnaby's lawyers called "more than 20 hours of relentless interrogation," MacDonald, after a brief break, walked back into the interview room "and told (Barnaby) that he was going to be charged with two counts of first-degree murder."

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-1256, shalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_DeanS.