Retired Maryland Police Chief Charged with Setting Fires Across Five Counties

Retired Laurel police chief set fires at homes of family members and police officials.
Dave Crawford (ABC7)

People were inside homes in 12 of the fires Crawford set

ABC7 Staff, with permission

LAUREL, Md. (ABC7) – Retired Laurel City Police Chief Dave Crawford faces multiple arson charges after authorities say he’s responsible for a series of fires set across Maryland, at the homes of family members and police officials, over the course of nine years

The Prince George’s County Fire Department said in a release 12 fires are at the center of a multi-county investigation starting in 2011 all the way to Wednesday morning. The latter fire is still under investigation, but Crawford is considered a suspect, the department said.

Crawford is charged for his role in fires across Prince George’s, Montgomery, Howard, Frederick, and Charles counties. According to the department, people were inside the home during six of the blazes. His charges range from attempted murder to arson to malicious burning.

“I honestly feel violated, and I can sympathize with a lot of the victims I dealt with through my career,” said a former high-ranking local law enforcement official and victim of a 2019 fire Crawford is accused of setting.

The homeowner, who remained anonymous when speaking to ABC7, was home and asleep at the time of the incident, as was his family. Their dog woke them at around 3:30 a.m.

Laurel Mayor Craig Moe issued a statement in October 2010 that Crawford would be retiring from his post as police chief. In the statement, Moe reportedly said that Crawford was retiring for personal reasons and was on administrative leave through November 2010.

Less than a year later is when authorities said Crawford set his first fire; in May 2011, officials said Crawford lit two vehicles on fire in front of a Prince George’s County home.

Authorities searched Crawford’s home in January and found evidence linking him to the arson. Part of that evidence was a “target list of the known victims.”

He is currently being held in the Howard County Detention Center.

Authorities released a list of arsons connected to Crawford:

Prince George’s County

May 28, 2011 — 1100 block of 12th Street, Laurel

March 16, 2019 — 5800 block of Maple Terrace, Laurel

Charges: four counts of 1st Degree Attempted Murder, four counts of 2nd Degree Attempted Murder, one count of 1st Degree Arson, six counts of 1st Degree Malicious Burning, and five counts of 2nd Degree Arson. All charges are felonies.

Montgomery County

September 5, 2016 — 22600 block of Majestic Elm Court, Clarksburg

September 29, 2017 — 226000 block of Majestic Elm Court, Clarksburg

November 17, 2020 — 11800 block of Peppervine Drive, Clarksburg

Charges: three counts of 1st Degree Arson, three counts of Malicious Burning 1st Degree, and one count of 2nd Degree Arson. All charges are felonies.

Howard County

March 5, 2017 — 2900 block of Country Lane, Ellicott City

June 23, 2017 — 6000 block of Avalon Drive, Elkridge

December 9, 2017 — 4000 block of Spring Meadow Drive, Ellicott City

August 17, 2018 – 4000 block of Spring Meadow Drive, Ellicott City

September 22, 2018 — 4000 block of Spring Meadow Drive, Ellicott City

Charges: eight counts of Attempted 1st Degree Murder, eight counts of Attempted 2nd Degree Murder, three counts of 1st Degree Malicious Burning, two counts of 1st Degree Arson, two counts of 2nd Degree Arson, one count of 2nd Degree Malicious Burning and various Malicious Destruction charges.

Frederick County

April 3, 2018 — 2300 block of Gapland Road, Jefferson

Charges: one count of 1st Degree Arson, one count of 2nd Degree Arson and one count of 1st Degree Malicious Burning.

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