Retired Laurel City Police Chief arrested in connection with fires across Maryland

Retired Laurel City Police Chief Dave Crawford has been arrested in connection with multiple fires allegedly set across Maryland, including fires at the homes of police and municipal officials.


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According to Prince George's County fire officials, Crawford has been linked to at least 12 fires in Prince George's, Howard, Montgomery, Frederick and Charles counties between 2011 and 2020.

Surveillance videos from some of the fires showed a subject whose face was concealed under a tightly drawn, hooded sweatshirt, but revealed a similar pattern of behavior, they say. The subject could be seen carrying jugs of gasoline, and then using a stick wrapped in cloth to light the fires.

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Investigators were able to make a break in the case when they discovered a link between the victims. In each case, the victims had some kind of disagreement with Crawford in the past.

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The attempted murder charges arose out of the fact that there were clear signs the residents were inside the homes at the time Crawford set fire to the structures, according to investigators.

In one case - in connection with a fire in Laurel - Crawford faces a host of felony charges, including four counts of first-degree attempted murder, four counts of second-degree attempted murder, one count of first-degree arson, six counts of first-degree malicious burning and five counts of second-degree arson.

In Montgomery County, Crawford has been charged in connection with three fires in Clarksburg - including two at the same address. There, he's been charged with three counts of first-degree arson, three counts of malicious burning, first-degree, and one count of second-degree arson. All charges are felonies.

His Howard County charges are equally serious, including eight counts of attempted first-degree murder, eight counts of attempted second-degree murder, three counts of first-degree malicious burning, two counts of first-degree arson, two counts of second-degree arson, one count of second-degree malicious burning and various malicious destruction charges.

A plethora of other suspicious fires have been linked to Crawford - some of them are still under investigation.

His alleged victims include:

- A former City of Laurel official

- Three former law enforcement officials including a former City of Laurel Police Chief

- Two relatives

- Two of Crawford’s former physicians

- A resident in his neighborhood 

Crawford retired from his position as chief in 2010. The mayor at the time, Craig Moe, reportedly said Crawford was retiring for personal reasons and had been placed on administrative leave through November 2010.