New leads give investigators hope they'll solve 20-yr-old arson - WDRB 41 Louisville News

New leads give investigators hope they'll solve 20-yr-old arson case

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Craig Drury with his sister Stacey. Craig Drury with his sister Stacey.
Craig Drury with his dad, Teddy. Craig Drury with his dad, Teddy.
Craig Drury with his niece Shelby. Craig Drury with his niece Shelby.
Craig Drury with his fiancee, Penny. Craig Drury with his fiancee, Penny.
Craig Drury with a Highview Fire truck. Craig Drury with a Highview Fire truck.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- 24-year-old Craig Drury, a volunteer Highview Firefighter, died on September 5th, 1994. He had been hospitalized for 12 days.

On the evening of Aug 24th, 1994, he responded to this fire on Mt. Washington Road.  He was one of four firefighters who were hurt, but the only one who died in the flashover - a simultaneous ignition of all the combustible materials in an area. 

New leads in a 20 year old arson mystery. Police now believe they're closing in on the truth after new lead surfaced in the 20-year-old arson mystery. 


More than 500 firefighters and three dozen fire trucks were part of his funeral at the same church he was supposed to be married in the very next day.


Ashlee Richards, Drury's cousin said, "It was definitely a light disappeared from our family when he was taken from us. He was such a ball of energy and such a positive person to be around."

Major Henry Ott with Metro Arson said, "I think everybody has always agreed, it's a set fire. The disagreement has always been who is responsible."

Ott has spent thousands of hours on this case that investigators believe to be racially motivated.  The white homeowners were foster parents to black children. The family had reported incidents to police of being harassed and investigators say a black jockey statue was also found hanging from their tree the night of the fire.


"They did an extremely thorough investigation in '94," Ott said. "We've developed some possible other leads and other suspects lines that may or may not be true. That's what we need the information for." 

Ott says he won't get into details about those new leads.

"I tell the homeowners who have cooperated now for two years and they have answered every question.," he said. "I tell them I have no idea who set the fire. I'm gathering information. It is what it is. I'm hoping we get enough information to make an arrest."

The house where the fire happened has been torn down. Over the years, there have been a number of plans for the land that is now high grass and weeds. One plan even included naming a street after Drury.

At the Highview Fire Department, Drury's gear is in a case with a plaque honoring his service. During the fire he wore his dad's gear. That's why his pants and helmet are still intact. His father was the fire chief at the time.


His parents died in 2009 not knowing who is responsible for his death. They are buried next to him.

Lt. Col Rob Dwyer, a deputy chief with the Highview Fire Protection District, said "It was really difficult to see him lifeless in the front yard, two of your firefighters. I knew one of them was craig, just the simple fact his dad saying I didn't see Craig come out yet."

Highview's current chief and deputy chief were both at the fire that night and helped rescue two of the other firefighters. They say Drury's death has been difficult on everyone.

He had a passion for firefighting and softball, and those mementos are on his grave. Highview firefighters memorialize "Roadie" - as some called him - by wearing his softball number, 13, on their uniforms.

"I believe and have always believed that somebody who lives within a mile of that house, lived there in 1994, knew what happened," Ott said.

Family members, including Richards, say it's been an emotional 20 years.

They had thought it would never be solved, but they're hopeful these new developments will turn into an arrest.

Richards said, "It was really nice to hear they haven't given up on it."

"We'd like for this to be resolved," Highview Fire Chief Dave Goldsmith said. "We'd like for this whole case to be solved, so we can put this to rest."


There is a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

Family and friends also hold a golf scramble in Drury's memory each year. But this year will be the last.  Organizers say it represents 20 years since his death and is symbolic because firefighters can retire after 20 years of service.

The Craig Drury Golf Scramble is on September 14th at 2 p.m. at Quail Chase Golf Course on Cooper Chapel Road. 

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