News (USA)

Estranged husband charged in death of Utah LGBT pioneer

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The estranged husband of a well-known Salt Lake City LGBT pioneer and restaurateur who died in a house fire was charged Wednesday with aggravated murder and arson.

Prosecutors said they believe Craig Crawford purposely started the late-night fire to kill his husband, John Williams, who had filed for divorce from Crawford and sought a temporary restraining order that was rejected.

Crawford, 47, could face the death penalty if he is convicted of the charges. It was not clear if he has an attorney.

Williams, 72, died from smoke inhalation after he was trapped on the fourth floor of the Salt Lake City home on May 22, when flames engulfed a staircase, the charging documents show.

Firefighters heard his screams for help but couldn’t get inside until they climbed ladders and cut through an exterior wall. They found Williams dead in a bedroom.

Williams has been remembered as a visionary businessman and LGBT pioneer who was one of the first openly gay people in Utah’s business community in the 1970s. He was the owner of the popular Market Street Grill

Charging documents detail bizarre behavior by Crawford on the night of the blaze.

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