Today, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball hosted a press conference addressing Ellicott City resident David Crawford’s arrest in a serial arson investigation spanning multiple counties in Maryland. Crawford was arrested in connection to twelve arsons that occurred in Howard, Frederick, Charles, Montgomery, and Prince George’s County from 2011 to 2020. Crawford is being held without bond at the Howard County Detention Center. Charging documents can be found here. Video of the event can be found here. Photos here.
“We’re incredibly grateful to the multiple jurisdictions and departments who worked together to arrest the suspect and potentially stop any future tragedies,” said 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.”
Investigators had surveillance video in many cases, where the arsonist displayed a similar pattern of starting the fires with gallons of gasoline and a stick wrapped in cloth. The videos also had a similar appearance in many videos, wearing a sweatshirt with a tightly drawn hood. Investigators linked multiple cases following a 2020 fire when they discovered Crawford had previous disagreements with multiple victims. In January 2021, a search of Crawford’s residence found several pieces of evidence, including a list of targets that were known victims.
“We are grateful for the collaboration among all our partners in these complex investigations,” said Howard County Police Chief Lisa Myers. “Although the arrest took place in Howard County, it was truly the multi-jurisdictional cooperation that made it possible.”
“I am thankful for the joint efforts of all our partners across the region in their efforts to take this criminal off the street,” said Howard County Fire Chief William Anuszewski. “The sheer nature in which these acts are reported combined with the previous position of such high public trust that was held by the individual is disturbing. While I will not speak on behalf of my counterparts regarding the specifics of the case, I am comfortable saying that we all jointly respect the trust the public bestows upon us as public safety agents and we are all here in service to others.”
Crawford is a former Police Chief for the City of Laurel, where he last served from 2006 until his resignation in 2010. Prior to that, he was Chief of the District Heights Police Department and served as a Major for the Prince George’s Police Department.
The 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, and a resident in his neighborhood. Investigators said that none of the civilian victims of the fires were connected to Crawford through his law enforcement career.
“I am extremely proud of the work our men and women performed in this case. It was a complicated case that began in Prince George’s County back in 2011. It was a long investigation that spanned a decade, but they never lost sight of the mission to serve our community. These investigators worked together across five counties and got the job done. We can all now go back to our communities and tell our residents that this danger has passed,” said Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Chief Tiffany Green.
“A true threat to our community has been neutralized with the arrest of a serial arsonist, who in many cases victimized persons and families throughout this region,” said Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein. “The allegations are troubling and quite serious, and the charges fit the crimes. Thanks for the cooperation from the community providing information and the due diligence of Montgomery County Fire and Explosive Investigators as well as the hard work and collaboration of many investigators working together across jurisdictions, our families can now rest peacefully at night knowing this person was apprehended.”
“On behalf of Frederick County, I would like to share my gratitude with our regional partners, who have worked seamlessly to coordinate efforts in successfully bringing the suspect of these cases into custody,” said Frederick County Fire Chief Tom Coe.
“The fire investigation community here in Maryland is small, this highlights the excellent work being done by all of our partners in the State,” said Maryland State Fire Marshals Office Chief Deputy Gregory Der. “I appreciate all of the collaboration that resulted in yesterday’s arrest”.
For additional information regarding the case, please reference Prince George’s Fire Department release.