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Accused Serial Arsonist, Former Laurel Police Chief David M. Crawford Held Without Bond, Allegedly Had 'Target List'

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (WJZ) -- Former Laurel Police chief David M. Crawford will be held without bond on arson charges after appearing in court Thursday morning.

County and state authorities announced 69-year-old Crawford, of Ellicott City, is facing a number of arson and attempted murder charges related to a series of 12 fires between 2011 and 2020.

Investigators detailed how they pieced together the case and finally linked Crawford, who was arrested at his Ellicott City home around 11:45 a.m. Wednesday, with multiple house and car fires over a decade at a press conference Thursday afternoon.

Officials say the case started with a fire in Prince George's County in 2011. Crawford was also linked with a series of fires in Howard County between 2017-18. They were all deemed "incendiary" in nature, meaning there were no accidental sources found in the area of the fire.

"While there were no reported injuries to either residents or fire department personnel as a result of these fires, considering the time of day, the very nature of the fires were set the outcome could have been very different," said Howard County Fire Chief Bill Anuszewski. "Thankfully, all the residents in the homes were alerted and able to escape without harm."

Police also discovered a coded "target list" on Crawford's phone, according to charging documents.

Press release: Ellicott City man arrested in multi-jurisdictional arson investigation

Posted by Howard County Executive Calvin Ball on Thursday, March 4, 2021

"We're incredibly grateful to the multiple jurisdictions and departments who worked together to arrest the suspect and potentially stop any future tragedies," said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. "Not only were these homes, and residents' lives put in danger – but the lives of our first responders, firefighters, and police officers around the state were endangered."

Through the course of the investigation, it was determined that the structures and vehicles that Crawford intentionally set on fire were connected to victims with whom he or his wife, Mary, had previous disagreements, officials said.

david crawford booking photo
David Crawford. Credit: Prince George's County Fire Department

The victims include a former City of Laurel official, three former law enforcement officials, two relatives, two of Crawford's former physicians and a resident in his neighborhood. One of the victims was his stepson.

Crawford is a former local law enforcement official who last served in 2010 when he resigned as Chief of the City of Laurel Police Department. He also served as police chief for District Heights. He previously worked for the Prince George's County Police Department as a major in 2000.

A search warrant of Crawford's residence was executed in January 2021, during which time investigators located several critical items of evidence.

All of the fires were set outside of the homes sometime around 3 a.m. when occupants would be sleeping inside, officials said.

Officials say there may be more fires linked to Crawford.

Ball was joined by Howard County Police Chief Lisa Myers, Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services Chief William Anuszewski, Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein, Prince George's Fire Chief Tiffany Green, Frederick County Fire Chief Tom Coe and Maryland State Fire Marshall Chief Deputy Gregory Der.

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