Joplin fire survivor shares story of loss and perseverance

JOPLIN, Mo. – On December 4, 2020, Joplin police say twins Elizabeth Baez and Tiffany Lukasiewicz set their father’s home on fire intending to kill their stepmother, Linda Crowder. She survived and now she’s sharing her story of loss and perseverance.

It was about 3:30 a.m. when Linda Crowder says she got up to use the bathroom and found flames.

“Saw the fire in my chair, went to grab my extinguisher that was always in the window, it was gone,” Crowder explained.

Linda says she tried throwing water on the fire, but it was spreading fast. One of Linda’s stepdaughters threw her husband, David in the bathroom. Linda says she called 911 and went back to save him.

“Nobody had come back to get him, so I crawled on the floor like they say on the TV and tried to reach him. I got almost to the door and I caught on fire,” she recalled.

Linda suffered third suffered third degree burns across her body, but she survived. Her husband, 68-year-old David Crowder, died in the fire. It’s a loss Linda says she’s still trying to process.

“You know, you wake up, you have nightmares. You wake up and you think what could I have done different, and there’s nothing you could do at this point. I just miss him. He was a very kind, loving person,” said Crowder.

Linda says the twins set the fire because she and David had cut them off financially. She says they blamed her and sought revenge.

“They hired somebody to assault me, but they never showed up so they started the fire instead,” Crowder stated.

Despite the physical and emotional pain she has endured, Linda says she’s trying to stay positive. It’s what David would’ve wanted.

“I wanna live up to what he would say: You’re here for a reason and look for that reason. So that’s what I’m trying to do,” said Crowder.

The twins have been charged with Murder in the 2nd Degree, Arson in the 1st Degree and Domestic Assault in the 1st Degree.

Linda is currently staying with her children in Pittsburg, but she’s hoping to find a place of her own soon.

If you’d like to help, she says she’s in need of size XL men’s shirts, large women’s pants with a drawstring, size 6.5 or 7 shoes, and socks.

You can also donate to her GoFundMe page here.