Caplin to plea in double-murder

Barnaby maintains innocence

Staff file photo David Caplin, entering court for a hearing in 2016, has reached a plea agreement with prosecutors in his 1988 murder case. The plea and sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 14.

NASHUA – Decades after the murders of two Nashua women, one of the suspects is being brought to justice as David Caplin is now scheduled to plead guilty to his role in the crimes.

Caplin, 56, is set for a Tuesday plea and sentencing hearing in the Hillsborough Superior Court in Nashua. He’s charged with two counts of first degree murder and two counts of second degree murder for his alleged role in the brutal 1988 stabbing deaths of Brenda Warner and Charlene Ranstrom. The bodies of the women were found in their Mason Street apartment on the morning of Oct. 3, 1988.

Caplin was arrested in 1990, two years after the murders, but he never went to trail in the original case. Instead, he walked free after a series of New Hampshire Supreme Court rulings forced prosecutors to drop the charges. He was arraigned in a new case in 2015, along with co-defendant Anthony Barnaby, based on DNA evidence

developed in 2011.

The two men were extradited from Canada in 2015 in order to face the new charges after years of appealing in the Canadian courts. Both Barnaby and Caplin are members of the Mi’kmaq tribe and lived on reservations in Canada after they were released in the 1990s. Both men were jailed in 2011 on unrelated charges when the case was reopened.

Caplin’s attorney, Cathy Green, said Thursday she was unable to comment ahead of the hearing. Barnaby’s attorney, Mark Sisti, said Caplin’s plea agreement does not change his client’s case in the slightest.

“I could care less what Mr. Caplin does,” Sisti said. “Mr. Barnaby’s going to trial, and he’s completely innocent.”

Barnaby already has been tried for the murder three times since 1988, but each of those trials have ended in hung juries. Barnaby, who was friends with Caplin at the time of the murders, confessed to the crimes, reportedly telling police he and Caplin beat the women, tied them up and stabbed them after a series of disputes. He also reportedly told police he and Caplin hated the women, because they were lesbians.

Barnaby later recanted his confession.

Sisti is not concerned that Caplin’s plea deal might mean Caplin will testify against Barnaby. Sisti said Caplin is the real killer.

“David Caplin is a killer, and he’s the one who killed those two women,” Sisti said.

The two men lived downstairs from the victims in the same apartment building. The women reported Barnaby and Caplin harassed them, slashing their car tires, and even stealing their cable.

Damien Fisher can be reached at 594-1245

or dfisher@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_DF.