GOLDEN, Colo. (AP/CBS4) – A 22-year-old man wanted in connection with the apparent killing of a man found in a burning home in Golden is in jail.
Thomas Kevin Laperch was arrested on the 16th Street Mall on Sunday, the day after the body was found in the fire. Police have identified the victim as 54-year-old William Burchett.
Police say Laperch rented part of the home. He’s being held on suspicion of murder and arson. Investigators believe Burchett was stabbed and the fire was set to cover it up.
Police say Laperch, from Maryland, just moved about a week or two to the home on Iowa Street. The owner of the building told police he didn’t even know Burchett was subleasing.
Neighbors and police say the arrest comes as a relief.
“It makes you feel more comfortable when you know there’s been a murder and you have a suspect in custody,” neighbor Arlene Munyon said. “Of course they have to prove it and I know that. Just knowing that he’s not out walking the street makes you feel a lot better.”
“We’re certainly relieved for the folks in the neighborhood here because they have a lot of concerns,” Capt. Daryl Hollingsworth with Golden Police Support Services said “This is still very early in the investigation. We still have a lot of work to do. We’re still processing that home. We’re just really getting started on this thing.”
A neighbor, who asked not to be identified, said Laperch moved in after responding to an ad on Craigslist. He said they all welcomed him to the area at first, but after a few days their feelings toward him had changed.
“Just got a weird vibe from him,” the neighbor said.
When neighbors learned what happened they immediately turned to Laperch, who just hours before the discovery had expressed frustration with his living situation.
“(He) had some concern about rent … so that’s the only thing I’m thinking that could’ve been the catalyst for him to for them to get in argument,” the neighbor said.
Court documents show Burchett had also expressed concerns about his new tenant, telling family members he was going to confront Laperch about leaving and he was even going to give him extra money to move out.
Neighbors now say the decision to cut ties with Laperch was made too late.
“You give people the benefit of the doubt and unfortunately something like that has to happen,” said the neighbor.
Burchett was the singer in local classic rock band called “The Resonators.”
Drummer Robert Fiorino has known Burchett for years, calling him one of the most generous people he’s ever met.
“He was very trusting of people, took people in and people felt close to him. People who weren’t still felt close to him because of the way he was you know. I think that was his undoing,” said Fiorino.
It may have been too much trust in a complete stranger that led to this singer’s death but either way Fiorino wants Laperch to stay behind bars.
“Definitely want this guy put away for a long, long time,” said Fiorino.
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)