Retired Laurel police chief linked to arson crime-spree targeted stepson, investigators say

A retired Laurel City police chief who has been linked to at least a dozen fires across Maryland targeted his stepson’s home in Clarksburg three times, according to investigators.

Dave Crawford is being held without bond in Howard County after he was charged with crimes ranging from arson to attempted murder to malicious destruction.

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Investigators believe the longtime law-enforcement official set fires to the homes of people he bore grudges against in Howard, Charles, Prince George’s, Montgomery, and Frederick counties.

His victims included municipal officials, other law-enforcement officials, neighbors, and – in at least one case – a family member.
Justin Scherstom says he had "no clue" his stepfather was behind the suspicious fires at his Clarksburg home.

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"Shock, disgust you know. It's very hard to believe that a loved one would be responsible for something that's put my family in fear and caused us many sleepless nights over the past four and a half years," Scherstom told FOX 5’s Evan Lambert.

The last time Crawford allegedly struck was November 2020. Scherstom says his entire family was inside the home at the time.

Police say Crawford was charged with attempted murder in cases where it was clear people were inside the home when he set the fires.

READ MORE: Former Laurel police chief’s alleged victim says he’s stunned after investigation revelations

Scherstom says he even showed his stepfather surveillance video of the last fire. Crawford reportedly told him the suspect "was a younger guy."

Scherstom was one of a number of people on Crawford’s alleged "hit list," according to investigators.

The list – which was found during a search – was filled with people Crawford had disagreements with.

Crawford’s wife is a longtime Prince George’s County prosecutor.
Scherstom said he could only speculate at his stepfather’s motivation – saying only that they’d had disagreements.

He does not believe any of those disagreements reached the level of escalation Crawford allegedly took them to.