Crime

Suspected arson attack: Utah man ‘burnt his ex-husband to death’

John Williams, Craig Crawford

John Williams, Craig Crawford

John Williams, a 72-year-old gay rights activist and restaurateur, was killed Sunday in an arson attack.

Unable to escape the house fire, the beloved Salt Lake City resident was found dead by firefighters who were responding to a 911 call.

Craig Crawford, 47, has been arrested in connection with the crime.

Williams’ ex-husband has been charged with aggravated arson and aggravated murder.

On May 4th, Williams filed for divorce from Crawford.

He was also in the process of obtaining restraining orders against him.

According to KSL, Crawford was spotted nearby the house shortly after it caught fire.

Neighbors claim they could hear Williams screaming from the upper floor.

Local news station KSL reports that Crawford was seen near the house as it was engulfed by fire, though neighbours could hear Williams screaming from an upper floor.

In a Facebook tribute, Utah state senator Jim Dabakis writes:

Devastating. The death of Utah gentle generous giant John Williams.

He was a teacher’s son from Idaho. Came to Utah and changed our community forever for the better.

“As a restoration developer (New Yorker Building, SL Hardware, the Ford Building the Fire Station on 13th East etc.) restaurateur (all the Market Streets) and quiet LGBT advocate (he changed our town – when he quietly came out very early, to the Chamber and business community).

“John, I never met anyone that didn’t like you. You will be so missed – you were so loved.”

“The restaurants he and his partners opened raised the standards of dining for Utah, and the quiet bridges John built between the emerging LGBT community and the Utah business world made this a better place for all of us to live.”

h/t: Towleroad

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