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Caplin given 15-40 years for murder of same-sex Nashua couple in 1988

Union Leader Correspondent

February 14. 2018 3:05PM
David Caplin, 56, enters the courtroom Wednesday at Hillsborough County Superior Court for a plea and sentencing hearing on two counts of second-degree murder. (Kimberly Houghton)

NASHUA -- Thirty years after a same-sex couple was brutally murdered in the Gate City, relatives of the victims received some closure Wednesday as one of two men allegedly responsible was sentenced to prison.

“You butchered my sister,” said a tearful Leslie Warner in court. “David, you are simply an empty shell with no moral fiber. You have no purpose in this life.”

David Caplin, 56, was later sentenced to 15-40 years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of second-degree murder for the 1988 deaths of Brenda Warner and Charlene Ranstrom. A second suspect in the case, Anthony Barnaby, is set for trial in August.

“What a monster you are,” Leslie Warner said to Caplin. Despite his anger and frustration throughout the past three decades, Leslie Warner told Caplin that he forgives him.

Caplin, as part of his negotiated plea deal, will be deported back to Canada upon his release from prison; defense attorneys are hoping he will be able to serve his sentence in Maine.

Caplin, who was 27 at the time of the murders, has accumulated about 7½ years of pre-trial incarceration credit, meaning he could be released in about 7½ years, or by the time he is 63 or 64, according to Susan Morrell, senior assistant attorney general.

From left, Charlene Ranstrom and Brenda Warner are shown in this photograph from the 1980's. The couple was killed in 1988 in their Nashua apartment. (Kimberly Houghton)

Judge Jacalyn Colburn of Hillsborough County Superior Court ruled that Caplin, who is not an American citizen, will not be able to return to the United States after he serves his sentence and is deported. In addition, Caplin will be required to testify against Barnaby when he goes on trial next August if the state opts to put him on the stand, according to the plea deal. 

She told Caplin that his senseless actions from 30 years ago resulted in sheer horror and pain. The judge said the only reason she accepted the plea deal was because the family of the victims, along with the Nashua Police Department, support the arrangement. 

Inga Flanders, one of Brenda Warner’s nieces, described Caplin as an evil man who played God that day in 1988 when he took two lives. 

“You destroyed us -- you destroyed all of us,” Flanders told him. “ … In order for my scars to heal, in order for me to have peace, I forgive you.” 

Caplin, a Micmac Indian from the Restigouche Reservation in Quebec, maintained his innocence since the 1988 double homicide. However, Morrell said Wednesday, new DNA testing of semen and hair found in Warner’s hand placed Caplin at the scene. In addition, a former girlfriend of Caplin’s told authorities that he had admitted his involvement in the killings, according to Morrell. 

“I am very sorry. I haven’t dealt with what I did since it happened,” Caplin told the court during his sentencing. 

Amy Boisvert, another niece of Warner’s, said her aunt was a beautiful person who will be missed forever. 

“We just want justice. Our family has longed for this closure,” said Boisvert, adding they will all be in attendance for Barnaby’s upcoming trial as well. 

Both victims were beaten and sustained multiple stab wounds. They were discovered dead in bed bound at the ankles and wrists, said Morrell. 

Tim Hefferan, a former Nashua police chief who was involved in the original investigation, was in court on Wednesday to see justice prevail 30 years later and honor the police and Attorney General’s Office for their relentless work. 

Both Caplin and Barnaby were charged nearly 30 years ago with the murders. Charges against Caplin were dropped after a superior court judge ruled physical evidence and statements he made could not be used against him. Barnaby was tried three times for the murders, but the highly publicized trials all ended in mistrials with jurors unable to reach unanimous verdicts.

Courts Crime Nashua

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