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  • Telegraph file photo by Dean Shalhoup

    The scene in October of 1988 outside of 7 Mason Street, Nashua.

  • Telegraph file photo by Dean Shalhoup

    Anthony Barnaby talks with then-Nashua police Det. Wayne McDonald outside of the Mason Street apartment building as police investigated the October 1988 murders. Barnaby, who was arrested but never convicted, was re-arrested Tuesday in Nashua.
  • Telegraph file photo

    Photos of Anthony Barnaby, top, and David Caplin show them in 1988 and after their arrest in 2011.

  • Anthony Barnaby, top, and David Caplin in 1988 and 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011

8. Two men charged, again, in 1988 murder in Nashua

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Telegraph will run the 10 biggest local stories of 2011 in the paper during the next several days.

NASHUA – The beginning of one of the top stories of the year didn’t happen in 2011 at all. For that, you would have to travel back to 1988 and the brutal murders of two Nashua women one October night.

Two Canadian men – Anthony Barnaby and David Caplin – are awaiting extradition to New Hampshire to face murder charges in the Oct. 2, 1988, killing. Police north of the border arrested them in April after Nashua and state police, working with Canadian authorities, reopened the case in 2010 and eventually decided to try the men for the double murder.

Barnaby, 43, and Caplin, 49, are charged, again, with murdering Charlene Ranstrom, 48, and Brenda Warner, 32, in the women’s 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.

The murders rocked the downtown neighborhood and haunted many of the people who sat on Barnaby’s three juries.

“It bothered me for quite a while,” said David Zebley, who served on Anthony Barnaby’s third jury during the summer of 1990. “I remember going on vacation, and I could not get that man’s case off my mind. It really, really stuck with me for a long, long time.”

In April, Barnaby was arrested in Montreal, and Caplin was arrested at New Carlisle Jail in New Carlisle, Quebec. 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.

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 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.

The investigation was reopened 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 after 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.

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.”

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or Also follow Cote on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeC).