| Crime |

Thomas Laperch arrest: Murdered musician William Burchett robbed, stabbed, burned (44)

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Update: Yesterday, we told you about the arrest of Thomas Laperch after an arson call turned into a homicide investigation; see our previous coverage below.

Now, the victim in the incident has been identified as William Burchett, a 54-year-old musician best known for his work with a local band called the Resonatorz. Look below for more about Burchett, including posts by those who loved him, as well as additional details about the crime from the arrest affidavit.

Here's a photo of the Resonatorz from their Facebook page (the band's name is spelled with an "S" at the end in the page's title, a "Z" in most other places), with Burchett front and center:

Burchett's own Facebook page features plenty of pics as well, including a series of shots taken during a 2013 trip to Europe. Here's one.... ...and one more: Most poignant, though, is a shot placed on the Resonatorz's page on Sunday. The caption reads: "Love is all there is." Unfortunately, the end of Burchett's life was not loving in the slightest. Continue for more about the investigation into William Burchett's death, including additional photos and a video. At about 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 15, according to the affidavit on view below, authorities arrived at Burchett's home, at 711 Iowa Street in Golden, in response to a fire report.

Heavy smoke was emanating from the structure, and when emergency personnel searched the building, they found Burchett's body in a bedroom. His head is said to have been charred and blackened. However, further investigation revealed "what appear to be stab wounds to the face, neck and arms," the affidavit notes.

Additionally, a blood trail led to a room that had been occupied by an absent resident -- a Maryland man named Thomas, who'd moved in about a week earlier after responding to a Craigslist ad.

As police discovered that the home had been "ransacked," with "closets emptied out, drawers open, chairs tripped over and travel bags in the living room," interest in this particular Thomas only increased -- especially after Burchett's brother revealed that William had asked his new roomie to move out the previous day.

Once the roommate had been ID'd as Laperch, police reached the suspect's brother, who said Thomas had told him during a phone call that he'd been hiking. That call was then traced to a pay phone on the 16th Street Mall, where Thomas was arrested on Sunday.

Laperch made his first court appearance on Monday. He's being held without bond on suspicion of first-degree murder.

In the meantime, musicians and fans who crossed Burchett's path are mourning his passing. Here are some examples from the Resonatorz's Facebook page:

Wow.... Billy was a wonderful kind person. I remember rehearsing at the old Conejo motel and the old house off the 101 freeway. lost track with him years ago, sorry to hear the sad news.

Damn... Played with Billy in Thousand Oaks years ago RIP bro.

God Bless you Billy! You are loved more than you can ever know. Hugs to you my dear friend.

Our condolences to Burchett's friends, family and loved ones.

Look below to see Laperch's booking photo, followed by a 7News report, the arrest affidavit and our previous coverage.

Thomas Laperch Affidavit

Continue for our previous coverage of the arrest of Thomas Laperch, including more photos. Original post, 5:32 p.m. March 17: Certain characteristics immediately come to mind for folks in this area when it comes to hippie-like guys with dreads -- and murder investigations aren't among them. But that's the position in which Thomas Laperch finds himself this morning.

Laperch has been arrested on suspicion of murder in relation to a homicide inquiry related to a local musician that started as an arson call in Golden.

Here are the details thus far.

On Saturday morning, the City of Golden Facebook page shared the following alert:

Fatal house fire in Golden. One person found dead inside home on 700 block of Iowa St. Call came in to dispatch of a structure fire at about 10:30 a.m. Golden Fire, Golden Police and CBI are investigating. No word on ID of victim or cause of fire at this time.

Shortly thereafter, the following photo from the scene was posted:

Here's another look at the area via an interactive graphic; if you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map."

View Larger Map

As a screen capture from 9News coverage on view below show, the exterior of the home doesn't appear to have suffered a great deal of damage. However, the body found inside reportedly was so badly burned that identification was made difficult and has not yet been made public at this writing.

A friend of the victim who spoke to 9News suggests that he was a local musician.

Before long, investigators at the scene came to the conclusion that the fire had been deliberately set to cover up a homicide -- at which point suspicion turned to a man who's said to have rented part of the home, and who hadn't been seen since the fire broke out.

That person has been ID'd as Laperch. He allegedly met the victim via a Craigslist ad -- but members of the Denver Police Department didn't need to respond to an online pitch to locate him. On Sunday, he was spotted and arrested on the 16th Street Mall.

At present, Laperch remains in custody in regard to possible arson and murder charges. But the investigation is far from over. If you have any information about the crime, you're encouraged to phone the Golden Police Department at 303-384-8045.

Here's a larger look at the photo of Laperch released by authorities -- not a mug shot, but his DMV pic.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Mile High Murder archive circa March 4: "Stephvon Atencio, James Dominguez-Castor busted in slaying of elderly Lakewood man (43)."

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.