Ex-Laurel police chief indicted on arson charges in Montgomery Co. fires

The former police chief of Laurel has been indicted on multiple arson charges in Montgomery County, Maryland.

David Crawford, 69, of Ellicot City, is accused of setting fire to his stepson’s home — more than once.

The first incident was in September of 2016 then again in September of 2017, according to court documents. Crawford again reportedly targeted his stepson’s property in 2020, the latest in the string of arson fires connected to him, authorities said.

In all, there are four charges of arson and two charges of reckless endangerment in the grand jury indictment for the fire on Majestic Elm Court in Clarksburg.

Crawford also faces charges of arson in Howard, Prince George’s and Frederick Counties.

“We are just at the beginning of our preparation of our multi-county defense of allegations that Mr. Crawford denies and intends to aggressively contest,” Robert Bonsib, Crawford’s attorney, said.

He had previously been charged for a string of fires set over a nine-year stretch.

Crawford was a major in the Prince George’s County Police Department, retiring in 2000 to take the job as chief of the District Heights police. He then served as chief of the Laurel police department, resigning in 2010. The fires were set between 2011 and 2020, Prince George’s County fire and EMS said in a statement.

In January, the police got a search warrant for Crawford’s house and found, among other things, a “target list” of the victims, who included government or law enforcement officials, as well as a relative and two of Crawford’s former doctors, police said.

All of the fires were set at night, and in half of them, there were “clear signs the residents were inside the homes” and asleep at the time, the fire department said.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan and Rick Massimo contributed to this report.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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