Before alleged revenge fires, ex-Laurel police chief terrorized his daughter to get custody of her child, court filing claims

Thank you for supporting our journalism. This article is available exclusively for our subscribers, who help fund our work at The Baltimore Sun.

Screenshot from a surveillance video that was made public after the March arrest of former Laurel Police chief David Crawford on serial arson charges. Now Crawford's daughter says in court papers that he stealthily terrorized her for years, shooting up homes and cars and leaving gas canisters as warnings.

In 2010, Carrie Turner was ready to take another try at regaining custody of her young daughter from her father, the police chief of Laurel.

The next day, someone fired gunshots into the home where Turner was staying and left a note with black bold stenciled letters on the building call box. “Carrie, I’m out back. I’m back. I have found you,” the note read, according to a police report.


It was just the latest in a string of shootings and threats directed at Turner amid the custody dispute. The incidents were purportedly committed by a gang out of York, Pennsylvania, who signed their name to some of the notes. Turner’s father, David Crawford, cited the incidents as evidence that her home was an unsafe environment.

Now, Crawford is in jail on unrelated charges of attempted murder and arson in at least four Maryland jurisdictions for setting retaliatory fires between 2011 and 2020. The victims include family members, people Crawford knew professionally and others with whom he had disputes; prosecutors say he set three fires to the Clarksburg home of his stepson between 2016 and 2020.


And Turner, who suggested to police back in 2010 that her dad could be behind the shootings, says she’s certain it was him.

“I’d hoped he wasn’t,” Turner said in an interview last week, noting that she had to maintain a relationship with him in order to see her daughter, who remains in the custody of her stepmother while her dad sits in jail. “I thought, maybe I’m just crazy.”

Crawford has not been charged in connection with any of the incidents involving Turner, nor do any of the charged cases allege shootings. Anne Arundel County police confirmed they are investigating Turner’s allegations.

Crawford’s attorney, Robert Bonsib, declined to comment on Turner’s allegations or the charges Crawford already is facing.

Turner’s allegations are laid out in a petition to regain custody of her daughter, filed in Howard County Circuit Court last week. An emergency hearing has been scheduled for this week.

David Ruben, Turner’s attorney, said it is “unlike any custody case ever heard before in the state of Maryland.”

Crawford spent 30 years as a law enforcement officer in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County before taking chief of police jobs in two D.C.-area municipalities. Growing up, Turner said, her father was emotionally abusive and manipulative.

“My dad is super funny, so charming. He’s like a Jekyll and Hyde kind of person. Unless you had a run-in with him, you would never know,” Turner said.


Turner’s daughter was born in September 2006, and just a few weeks later Turner accused the girl’s father of threatening to kill her and he was jailed, according to records from that case. When he was released from jail months later, he returned to the home. Crawford and Turner’s stepmother — then a Prince George’s County prosecutor — were concerned about the unstable home environment and filed an emergency complaint for custody in early 2007. It was granted.

The custody arrangement called for Turner to see her daughter on alternate weekends. The day before a scheduled visit in 2008, her husband’s vehicle was shot up in the middle of the night outside their home in York, according to Turner’s court filing. They had called the police on a neighborhood boy and thought it could be retaliation, and decided to move to Odenton and stay with Turner’s mother.

Just days later, that home — more than an hour from York — was shot up in the middle of the night.

“My husband had tears in his eyes. He said: There’s bullet holes, and a gas can on my truck,” Turner recalled.

“I’m thinking: Damn, did we piss off the wrong person?” her then-husband, Ray Truelove, said in an interview.

Turner’s mother declined to comment to The Baltimore Sun.


Crawford, wearing his chief’s uniform, showed up to the Odenton shooting scene and began conferring with county detectives, Turner said. And he began denying Turner and Truelove access to their child, citing a dangerous environment due to the shootings and another incident in which a five-gallon can filled with gasoline and a wet rag in the nozzle was found next to Turner’s mother’s vehicle, according to the petition.

Though Turner and Truelove didn’t think anything of it at the time, the shooting came five days after a terse exchange between Turner and Crawford’s wife, according to the petition to regain custody.

Turner’s mother moved to a new community, but the harassment continued. One note placed on her windshield read: “Your [sic] easy to follow. Cary [sic] and Ray [her husband] this is not over,” according to the petition and police reports. Another note included references to not publicly-available personal information about Turner’s mother’s job.

“That should’ve been a huge clue,” Turner recalled. “Some gang from a different state is not going to know where my mom works.”

Turner said her father had told her that if she divorced her husband, she could get her daughter back. Turner eventually filed for divorce in 2009 and moved back to York. She got a job at a gym in Pasadena and later became a certified domestic violence victim’s advocate.

There were no incidents for months, until she sought to regain primary custody of her daughter.


On March 12, 2010, someone shot up the Odenton building where Turner’s mother lived and left a stenciled note signed the “York Boyz.” An hour later, someone shot up a nearby gym — not the one where Turner worked — and left a note addressed to her.

“My dad knew I worked at a gym — but I never told my dad where I was living or where specifically I worked,” Turner said. “So he’s figuring I probably live near my mother, and he probably figured it was the right gym.”

“That’s when I knew for sure it was my dad.”

Turner told the police of her suspicions, and he is listed as a suspect in the police report. But they also listed her ex-husband and the supposed “York Boyz” as possible suspects. She also was questioned and took a lie detector test at the ATF’s Harrisburg field office, which a spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives confirmed.

Another shooting took place at the gym where she worked, the Big Vanilla in Pasadena, after she said her father learned her place of employment. Again, a note was left and signed by the “York Boyz.”

Meanwhile, no one was terrorizing Truelove anymore. He had signed legal documents related to the custody case that Crawford requested he sign.


“Ever since I signed the papers, it was like I had another page in life written for me. Everything stopped,” he recalled in an interview.

Crawford’s custody attorney sent Turner a note in September 2010 asking her to back down from her request to gain custody, citing the violent incidents as an unsafe environment for the child. It limited her visitation to just six times a year and restricted her communication with her daughter.

“Believing Crawford’s terrorization would not stop until she consented to [her daughter’s] adoption, on Dec. 15, 2010, Carrie signed a consent to adoption,” her lawyer wrote in last week’s petition.

The shootings and threats stopped.

“Allegedly this gang is after me, and nothing happens again,” Turner said.

Turner said she had to maintain a relationship with her father and his wife in order to see her daughter.


“I didn’t have a choice,” she said. “Obviously I want to see my daughter and be a part of her life. I had to learn to play nice.”

They reconciled after Crawford had a heart attack in 2018. Turner and her new husband moved in to Crawford’s home to help care for Turner’s daughter.

“I got to have a great time with my daughter,” Turner said, though she also said she saw up close a “toxic” environment in the home.

Even after they moved out, they would visit and stay at the home several times a year, she says.

Breaking News Alerts

As it happens

Be informed of breaking news as it happens and notified about other don't-miss content with our free news alerts.

According to police in four jurisdictions, however, Crawford allegedly was attacking others. The earliest charged case dates to 2011, with fires over the years targeting his chiropractor, his successor as Laurel police chief and Laurel’s city administrator. Even amid his health problems authorities say more fires were set, including one at the Ellicott city home of a woman with whom Crawford had a disagreement about school redistricting and another in Waldorf targeting a former Prince George’s County interim police chief.

At some point, investigators across the state began to link the incidents and, in January this year, Crawford’s home was raided. Authorities say they found a “target list” and have linked him to the attacks using internet search histories and fitness app data that showed him on the move during early-morning hours when the arsons occurred.


“When the detectives showed up to talk to me after the raid, I was disappointed, but I wasn’t surprised,” Turner said.

Turner said she hasn’t been able to speak to her daughter, who is now 14, since March 5, two days after investigators filed charges against Crawford. They used to text or communicate through Instagram. Turner said she’s been blocked.

“I’m worried about her well-being,” Turner said.

The complaint says Crawford’s wife “knew or should have known” about his alleged crimes.

Mary Crawford is not facing any charges. She declined to comment but said she would “seek redress of law for anyone that slanders or libels me.”

For the record

This story has been updated to correct the age of Carrie Turner's daughter. She is 14. The Sun regrets the error.