Arson investigators reopen case that killed firefighter
The photo of Craig Drury that hangs at the Highview Fire Department. (Source: Jeff Knight, WAVE 3 News)
Rob Dwyer (Source: Jeff Knight, WAVE 3 News)
The sign placed at the scene of the fire. (Source: Jeff Knight, WAVE 3 News)
Janet and Robert Crume (Source: WAVE 3 News Archives)
Major Henry Ott (Source: Jeff Knight, WAVE 3 News)
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It has been 20 years since a firefighter died in the line of duty after responding to a fire that was ruled as an arson. Now investigators have reopened the case in hopes of generating new leads.
Craig Drury, a volunteer for the Highview Fire Department, died after he was trapped inside a burning home back in 1994. Arson investigators put up a sign just a few days ago asking one simple question in hopes of generating news leads - "Do you know anything?"
It's a question they hope will soon be answered and leads to an arrest.
Even though it's been two decades since Craig Drury lost his life, his memory lives on inside the Highview Fire Department.
"Craig was a jokester and that's what I miss about him the most," said Highview Deputy Chief Rob Dwyer. "He could just crack a joke and make everybody smile in a heartbeat."
Dwyer first met Craig in Kindergarten. Years later they both became volunteer firefighters for Highview under Craig's father, Ted Drury, who served as chief.
"I have never seen a father-son relationship as close as theirs," said Dwyer.
Dwyer will never forget August 24, 1994 when everyone was called out to a burning home on Mount Washington Road.
"Fire was blowing out every window and door," said Dwyer.
Seeing a hose going into the front door, he knew firefighters were still in the house. He tried to find them.
"When I got I saw Chief Drury look at Major Larkin and say I haven't seen Craig come out yet," said Dwyer.
When Craig was pulled from the house, he was still alive. Two firefighters went to the hospital, but only one would make it out. At just 24 years old, Craig was buried at the same church he was set to marry his fiancé the next day.
"Somebody knows something, somebody saw something, somebody heard something and we'll take anything," said Major Henry Ott, commander of Louisville Metro Arson.
Ott says it's time to reopen the cause. “We aren't worried about the cause and origin, we've got that," said Ott, "what we're worried about is who is responsible."
Ott says investigators have always believed this crime was racially motivated. Robert and Janet Crume lived in the house but weren't home when the fire was set. At the time they were foster parents to two African American children. In an interview with WAVE 3 News in 1994 the Crume's told us they believed they were targeted.
"Destroyed everything that we worked all our lives for and how much hate could you possibly have in your heart," said Janet Crume in an archived interview.
A jockey statue was found hanging in a tree on the same night the fire was set. Despite that, Ott says the Crumes at one time were considered suspects and stopped cooperating with police. Ott says that has changed. They have recently spoken with investigators. Ott says while nobody has been ruled out at as suspect, their focus now is to look outside the family.
"The important thing is that we have not forgotten about it, we're working on it and we hope to be able to do something with it," said Ott.
Both Craig Drury's parents have since passed away. His sister is still in the area.
To this day in honor of Craig every Highview firefighter wears a small gold number 13 pin on their uniform. This was Craig's number in softball, one of his passions outside of fighting fires.
If you have any information give investigators a call at 502-574-2907.