David M Crawford, the police chief of Laurel, Maryland, was arrested and charged on Wednesday.
The arson attempts reportedly began in 2011, with the most recent occurring late last year. The fires took place in Prince George's, Howard, Frederick, Montgomery and Charles counties. Police only uncovered the link between the 12 arsons following the most recent fire, which happened in Clarksburg last November.
A surveillance video of the last video caught the image of someone running around in the middle of the night dumping an accelerant onto the ground outside a person's property. Investigators believe the individual in the video is Mr Crawford.
"The break in the case came shortly after the last known fire in 2020 when a link between the victims was discovered and that eventually led investigators and detectives to Crawford," Prince George County Fire/EMS Department said in a statement. "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."
After obtaining a search warrant, police searched Mr Crawford's home and allegedly found a list of his victims, which corresponded with the individuals whose houses had been burned.
Among Mr Crawford's alleged enemies were another former Laurel police chief, two former police officers, two relatives, and two of his former doctors.
Mr Crawford resigned in 2010, and allegedly carried out his first arson less than a year later.
Fire officials claimed the tactics used between the various arson sites were similar.
“The arsonist exhibited a similar pattern of behaviour using gallon jugs filled with gasoline and a stick wrapped in cloth to set the fires. Also there was a similar, but very generic vehicle description, a silver sedan, in several of the cases,” the Prince George’s County Fire Department said in a statement.
In Prince George's County, Mr Crawford is facing four counts of first-degree attempted murder, four counts of second-degree attempted murder, one count of first-degree arson, six counts of first-degree malicious burning and five counts of second-degree arson.
In Montgomery County, he's facing three counts of first-degree arson, three counts of first-degree malicious burning, and one count of second-degree arson, and in Frederick County he's facing a single count of first-degree arson, a single count of second-degree arson, and a single count of first-degree malicious burning.
In Howard County, Mr Crawford is facing eight counts of first-degree attempted murder, eight counts of second-degree attempted murder, three counts of first-degree malicious burning, two counts of first-degree arson, two counts of second-degree arson, one count of second-degree malicious burning and numerous counts of malicious destruction.
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