BILLINGS -- Charles Caplette, on probation for assault, is accused of trying to burn down his friend’s apartment in Billings after the friend discovered his belongings were missing and told the man he was no longer welcome.
Caplette, 50 years old, is facing one count of arson and one count of criminal endangerment.
Caplette, who is on probation for partner/family member assault in Cascade County, was arrested after he allegedly set fire to his friend’s home on the 200 block of North 18th Street on Saturday.
Billings police received a call at around 2 a.m. reporting an arson had just taken place and the suspect was running away.
Officers found footprints leaving the scene of the building, which had sustained charring and extensive smoke damage.
The man who lived in the apartment told officers that he had let Caplette stay with him for a few days because the men were friends and Caplette needed a place to stay.
Caplette began moving items into the apartment that his friend did not approve of and the friend also began to notice his own belongings were missing.
The man eventually told Caplette he was no longer welcome in his home, and he changed the locks.
When Caplette returned that night, he found the door locked and his friend said he could not come in.
Caplette left the scene and returned over an hour later demanding to be let in to retrieve his belongings.
The man reported that he denied Caplette entry because he was afraid of him.
Moments later, the man heard snow crunching followed by loud thuds from the back bedroom.
When he went to investigate, the man found the window frame was engulfed in flames.
The man was able to put the fire out with containers of water.
The man’s roommate later told officers he’d run into Caplette at the Crystal Lounge earlier that night, and Caplette said he was going to burn the apartment down.
Caplette told the roommate to get his belongings out before they all burned, according to court documents.
The roommate also reported hearing sounds outside the apartment leading up to the fire.
Witnesses reported the suspect’s description to police and Caplette was later arrested at the Montana Rescue Mission wearing the same outfit as the witnesses reported.
Caplette’s boots also smelled of gasoline, according to court documents.
Caplette is being held at the Yellowstone County jail.
According to the Montana Department of Corrections, Caplette also has convictions in Hill County and Pondera County on charges of burglary, partner/family members assault, criminal distribution of dangerous drugs, and criminal endangerment.