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Affidavit: Victim in Golden house fire had been stabbed, possibly robbed

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GOLDEN, Colo. — The man found dead inside a Golden house fire on Saturday had suffered numerous puncture wounds, according to an arrest affidavit released Monday.

Evidence gathered after the fire led investigators to arrest the victim's roommate, 22-year-old Thomas Laperch, in connection with the fire and the man’s death, police said.

The victim, believed to be William Burchett, was the landlord of the burning house at 711 Iowa St., police said. He was found dead in an upstairs bedroom with apparent stab wounds to the face, neck and arms, the affidavit states.

The fire had mostly been confined to the upper portion of the house.

After the fire, the entire house reportedly smelled of kerosene and had been ransacked, according to the affidavit.

What appeared to be a blood trail led investigators to the lower area of the house, where a tenant witnesses knew as “Thomas” lived, police said. Downstairs, police found bloody shoes and a knife they believe had recently been wiped down.

Police found mail addressed to the suspect in the downstairs area, prompting them to begin looking for Laperch. The suspect apparently has no criminal record in Colorado, but is known to police in Maryland, officials said.

The victim’s family told police he had recently gotten a roommate via Craigslist, but that the arrangement was not working out. Burchett had said he was going to give the new tenant several hundred dollars just to go away, the affidavit states.

With help from a member of Laperch’s family and the Denver Police Department, Golden police were able to locate and arrest Laperch near 16th and Market streets in Denver, about 2:35 p.m. Sunday, police said.

A police dog trained to sniff out accelerants alerted to numerous items of clothing in Laperch’s possession when her was arrested, police said. The suspect also exhibited singed arm hairs and minor cuts and scrapes on his body.

Laperch faces charges of first degree murder and arson.

The burned home sustained $50,000 in damage, police said. Burchett’s family also said he kept jewelry and other valuables that appeared to be missing.