By Mitchell Hang

A former Laurel police chief will now face the other side of the law and spend the rest of his life in prison.

arsonist 1
David Michael Crawford
Courtesy of Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office.

On June 27, David Michael Crawford, 71, was handed down eight life sentences – plus 75 years – by a Howard County judge for attempted first-degree murder, arson and malicious burning after setting fire to three homes in the county in 2017 and 2018. Eight people were in the homes when he set them afire in the middle of the night; none were injured.

He previously had received a 20-year sentence from a Frederick County judge for an arson in that county in 2018 arson, and still faces arson charges in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. The Prince George’s charges, which include a 2019 arson at the Laurel home of Crawford’s successor as police chief, Rich McLaughlin, were scheduled for trial July 10.

Crawford had served as chief of the Laurel Police Department from 2006 to 2010. In March 2021, he was arrested following an investigation that connected him with at least 12 arsons on homes spread across five counties. In each case, Crawford seemed to have acted on grievances he held against the residents, who included some of Crawford’s former work colleagues, his chiropractor and even his stepson. Another Laurel victim was former city administrator Marty Flemion, who had two vehicles set afire at his Laurel house in 2011.

Mayor Craig Moe said he had forced Crawford to quit as chief in 2010; he declined to go into further detail.

After Crawford was arrested, investigators found a list containing names of his victims on his cell phone, including McLaughlin and Flemion.