Concord man sentenced to prison psych unit for lighting twin on fire


Monitor staff

Published: 03-08-2019 7:53 PM

Tamika Crawford was on her way to becoming a registered nurse. She was taking classes at NHTI while working to provide for her two children.

But her life, and the lives of her children and other family and friends, changed forever on Dec. 15, 2016, the day her twin brother, Dwayne Crawford, poured gasoline onto her and lit her on fire as she slept.

Tamika Crawford, fighting through physical and emotional pain, stood in Merrimack County Superior Court on Friday and told of the suffering she has endured in the last two years.

“I was in a medically induced coma for four months and my body has been burnt 85 percent,” she told Judge John Kissinger as one of her sons stood close behind her. “When I look in the mirror, it is a constant reminder of what he has done to me and my family.”

In the pre-dawn hours of that early winter day, Concord police were called to her Woodbine Avenue home and found Tamika laying in a snowbank. Severe burns covered almost her entire body as smoke spilled from the second-floor windows.

Her twin brother, Dwayne, stood nearby next to her two young sons. He told the officers, “I did it, I lit her on fire.”

Dwayne Crawford pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to arson and attempted murder charges Friday as part of an agreement with county prosecutors.

Through his lawyer, he apologized. “I know there is nothing I can do to take it back, but I hope one day my family will forgive me,” Crawford’s lawyer read to the court. “My family meant the world to me, and now I feel alone.”

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Crawford will spend a minimum of five years in the secure psychiatric unit at the state prison in Concord. His commitment is subject to renewal every five years when the court will determine whether he poses a danger to the community.

State law says a person is not “criminally responsible” for their conduct if they are “insane at the time” of the act. A state forensic examiner previously concluded that Dwayne Crawford was psychotic at the time of the fire, which also destroyed the Crawfords’ home. Psychosis is a mental or physical illness that can cause someone to lose their sense of reality and hallucinate.

Concord officer Brendan Ryder said Crawford confessed to the crime at the scene but showed “very little affect and expressed no emotion.”

Dwayne Crawford was committed to New Hampshire Hospital following his arrest where he underwent mental health treatment and counseling.

Tamika began her long recovery as the Crawford family tried to piece their lives back together.

Tamika Crawford’s mother, Rebecca, said her grandchildren saved their mother’s life by wrapping her in a blanket to help put out the flames. She said they’ve stuck by their mother’s side, supporting her through a long recovery that continues today.

“My grandchildren lost their ability to be kids,” Rebecca said, fighting back tears. “They had to learn to be caretakers to their mom, but we are truly blessed that over the two years since this incident that not one time do these children complain.”

Tamika Crawford said she has undergone 17 surgeries and still needs more to regain the use of her hands. She said she fears that her brother will “come back and finish the job he has done” if he is not committed.

“I hope you will consider my plea so we can sleep at night,” she told Kissinger.

When Tamika Crawford finished her statement , Kissinger praised her for her courage to st and up and share her story.

“The fact of you being there for your children I think is an example  to all of us in how people can work their best to try to overcome incredible adversity,” he said.