Skip to main content

Former Police Chief Indicted After Being Accused of Alleged Serial Arson


David Crawford

Authorities in Prince George’s County announced an indictment on Tuesday against former police chief and alleged serial arsonist David M. Crawford, 69, according to Fox 5 DC.

Investigators charged the defendant back in March for offenses including first-degree arson and attempted first-degree murder. According to authorities, Crawford retired as a major from the Prince George’s County Police Department in 2000, went on to become chief of the District Heights Police Department, and resigned as chief of the City of Laurel Police Department in 2010.

Now he’s in trouble for what he allegedly did after that. In May 28, 2011, he allegedly set fire to vehicles at the home of a person in Laurel, Maryland (Prince George’s County). This first attempt did not go perfectly.

“While the suspect was setting the victim’s personal vehicle on fire, the suspect’s clothing caught fire,” authorities said. “The suspect is then seen on video fleeing the scene.”

Authorities said the next arson was a September 5, 2016 incident. He allegedly started a fire at the rear of a townhome in Clarksburg (Montgomery County).

All told, authorities said Crawford committed 12 arsons in Maryland from 2011 to 2020. His alleged M.O. was to use gallon jugs filled with gasoline. In several of the incidents, the suspect wore a hood drawn tight across his face. People were inside sleeping in their homes in six of the incidents, investigators said. This included not only adults, but juveniles.

Authorities previously released surveillance video of a March 16, 2019 incident, in which a suspect doused a driveway with two jugs. Investigators said a victim and family were asleep inside.

Authorities said the last arson took place in Clarksburg in November 17, 2020. They said their break in the case arrived after that.

“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 had previous disagreements,” they said.

Investigators said that the attempted murder charges came from there being clear signs that the residents were inside their homes at the time of the arsons.

“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.

[Mugshot via Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department]

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime: