Minnesota filmmaker and United States Army Veteran David Crowley was accused of murdering his wife and daughter before taking his own life in December of 2014. The Apple Valley Police Department suspects the bodies were inside the Minnesota home for three weeks, after they were found by neighbors on January 17th, 2015.
Within two days of the three bodies being found, David Crowley was accused of a double-murder suicide. However, police did not discover the bullet that killed David until a month after finding the bodies, when they were called to the Crowley house for a third time. There was a bullet-hole in the living room ceiling, right above their heads on January 17th, yet police officers and investigators did not see the bullet-hole until February 18th? It should be noted that David Crowley fired a weapon with his right hand, yet police found the Springfield XD semi-automatic pistol next to his left hand.
(Based mostly on the 94 page public release and 464 crime scene photographs provided by the Apple Valley Police Department. Page numbers and image titles will be referenced for clarity and further investigation.)
Anne Marie Hixon, who lived at 1052 Ramsdell Drive, “noticed that there is a certain light or candle that has come on every day since Christmas,” according to a report filed by Patrol Officer Tara Becker of the Apple Valley Police Department.1
After their initial walk-through of the Crowley house, Detective Tommie Booth and Detective Brian Bone spoke with the neighbors who lived directly across the street at 1048 Ramsdell Drive. Brent and Kaitlin Malay “last saw the Crowley family sometime just before Christmas.”2
Specifically, Brent Malay last saw David Crowley on December 24th, 2014, sometime between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. “[Brent] was going to close the blinds on the front of his residence when he looked out of the window and saw David’s residence. He said they looked at each other and then Brent closed his shade, while David had turned and walked away.”3 The Malays moved out of 1048 Ramsdell Drive sometime between January 17th and January 22nd, 2015, when Officer Becker’s supplemental report was filed. “They were no longer at the residence” when Officer Becker attempted to “follow up with the Malays.”1
Police also spoke with neighbors who lived behind the Crowley house on Lowell Drive, including Theresa Shepherd, who was out of town until December 23rd, 2014. Shortly after she returned home, Shepherd noticed the Crowley’s rear sliding patio door or screen door was partially open. Shepherd told Detective Bone she thought the Crowley’s were on vacation since no lights were on in the house. Shepherd also noticed lots of activity and people cleaning the Crowley residence on January 24th, 2015.2
Two unnamed neighbors on Lowell Drive told AVPD Detective Michael Tietz and Detective Sean McKnight that the Crowley home “had been dark since Christmas and that they hadn’t seen the occupants in a long time.” The unnamed female resident “said her room was on the back of the house and that lights on the back of the neighbors house would shine into her room if they were on.” The female also “hadn’t seen anyone at the house since the weekend before Christmas school break (which started 12/19/1).” The female resident never heard David and Komel fight. At some point, the female was going to babysit Raniya, but thought David didn’t like her and didn’t want her to babysit.3
Alan and Gena Olson also lived behind the Crowley residence on Lowell Drive. Alan Olson told Detective Brian Bone, “He heard what he thought to be several “rapid fire” gunshots. He could not say where the gunshots came from or when they happened…He said that he had been in the living room of his residence with his daughter when he heard them…Alan said he believed that that happened sometime before New Year’s Eve. He could not say that it happened on or around Christmas day.” Mr. Olson was home from 1 p.m. on December 24th, 2014, through 1 p.m. on Christmas day.
“[Alan] was uncertain if either of these days was when he had heard the gunshots,” Detective Bone wrote in his report. “He could not say if the gunshots happened before or after one of these days. Alan was certain that he had heard what he believed to be three rapid fire gunshots at that time. He believed that it had happened in the evening hours. Alan explained that he had not called the police because he did not have any specific information about when he had heard the shots.”4
Lorray Tupy, who also lived across the street from the Crowley family at 1047 Ramsdell Drive, hadn’t seen the Crowley’s in “over 3 weeks.” “Collin Prochnow came over and asked if she knew where the Crowley’s might be,” Officer Becker reported. “Tupy stated that she thought that they had possibly gone to Texas for the holidays and just weren’t back yet.” Tupy called David’s cell phone number but the call went “right to voicemail and she did not leave a message.”5
Enter the Police
AVPD Patrol Sergeant Greg Dahlstrom was the first officer to arrive at the Crowley residence on January 17th, 2015.6 Dahlstrom was met by several neighbors, including Collin and Judy Prochnow, who lived next door to the Crowley’s at 1055 Ramsdell Drive.
Patrol Officer Tara Becker arrived shortly after, “Collin indicated that he heard and saw the dog inside of the Crowley residence early this morning and thought it unusual since he had not seen anyone come and go from the Crowley residence. He conferred with his wife, Judy and she made mention to him to check to see if the Christmas presents that were on the front stoop were still there. Collin then went outside and noted that the Christmas presents that they had observed being on the front stoop on January 10, 2015 when they left to go to the airport were in fact still on the front stoop today.”
The Christmas presents on the front door stoop were “scattered about” when Collin approached the Crowley residence, according to Tara Becker’s police report. It was after Collin stacked up the presents that he looked through the front window and “observed what he thought to be dummies. Collin stated that he now knows that they were the bodies of the deceased but initially he thought that they were dummies or some type of props that were left in the residence to appear as though they were home when they weren’t. After looking inside of the residence Collin then went back to his residence, told his wife Judy about what he had seen and then she confirmed that they were deceased persons and immediately called 911.”7
Looking through the front window upon arrival, Patrol Sergeant Greg Dahlstrom “noticed several obviously dead bodies lying on the floor, near the front picture window.” The family dog, Paleo, was “barking and running among the bodies.”8
AVPD Patrol Officer John Broughten reported that Collin and Judy Prochnow “had very limited contact with the Crowley’s who…almost always have the drapes pulled down on their living room window. They thought it was unusual that the drapes were up recently for such an extended period of time. The Prochnows believed they last saw the Crowley’s just before Christmas.”
Officer Broughten “arrived on scene just after Sgt. Dahlstrom and Officer Becker who were approaching and checking in front of the residence.” Officer Broughten reportedly “did not see any fresh foot prints in the snow other than animal tracks.” In the back of the Crowley house, the officer also observed the patio door “opened slightly (<1/4 inch). I opened the door and found that it was not locked or secured with a bar lock.”9
Patrol Sergeant Adam Keeler was the fourth officer to arrive at the crime scene. Community Service Officer Brian Booth was then called in to help lure the dog outside and take it to safety. 10 Patrol Sergeant Keeler “opened the sliding glass door and the dog was given some treats inside the residence. The dog continued to bark and it took approximately 5 minutes for it to come outside. Once it came outside, CSO Brian Booth used his catch pole to secure the dog and put it in his truck…Prior to entering the residence, I announced officers presence. There was no response. Sergeant Dahlstrom and I cleared the main level of the residence including the garage.” 11
The dining room light was on when police entered the house. Officer Broughten reported, “When I opened the patio door, there was an over powering odor of decaying flesh…The Christmas tree lights and other strings of Christmas lights were still lit.”12
Officers Dahlstrom and Keeler then cleared the basement. “There were piles of dog feces all over the floor on both levels of the residence,” Officer Keeler reported.13 Once the house was cleared, the officers left the residence and waited for detectives to arrive.
Sometime after 3 p.m. on January 17th, 2015, Detective Sergeant Jim Gummert, Detective Tommie Booth, Detective Brian Bone, Detective Sean McKnight, and Detective Michael Tietz arrived at the crime scene. Members of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) and the Dakota County Electronic Crimes Unit were also at the Crowley residence.
“Once the BCA processing team had completed a portion of their work processing the scene,” Detective Gummert reported, “I, along with the remaining detectives entered the home to assist in the processing.”14
As he entered the home, Detective Brian Booth saw a deceased David Crowley “laying on his back with his body point toward the east and both arms spread outward from the body.” The top of David’s body was facing east and his feet were facing west. David’s right hand was “missing” while there was a black Springfield .40 caliber handgun “several inches from his left hand.” Detective Booth also reported seeing a “small portion of his rear skull still attached to the spinal column but a large portion of the head was missing.”15
Detective Bone stated the gun was south of David’s left hand “by approximately 1 foot…the gun was loaded with a round in the chamber and a magazine inserted into the gun at the time of its discovery.” The majority of David’s head was missing with “only the back part of his skull still intact.” Bone also noted David’s “upper spine was also exposed” and his “right hand was missing.” David was found barefoot with pants and a shirt on.16 “One exit bullet hole” was found in what was left of David’s skull.17 Police would not recover the bullet that allegedly killed David for another month on February 18th, 2015.
On August 5th, 2015, Detective Bone received the report from the latent print division of the Minnesota BCA, “Latent prints in blood were found on the pistol recovered in the living room as well as the magazine from that same gun. The BCA found a palm print on the gun and a finger print on the magazine. The print from the magazine was submitted to the Midwest Automated Fingerprint Identification Network (MAFIN) and did not generate any matches. The comparison to David Crowley was inconclusive due to limited quality of the latent print. The BCA did not have a comparable known palm print for David Crowley.”18
During the autopsy, David was positively identified by a tattoo on his left forearm and right shoulder and Komel was identified by a tattoo on her left wrist. The reports do not state how the child was positively identified.19
Komel’s body was found “pointing west…chest down on the floor,” Detective Booth reported. “The head of the female body could not be seen on the initial view. Also the female did not have either hand.”20 There was no indication as to where, if at all, Komel’s hands were found in the house. Detective Gummert later speculated the dog ate all of the body parts.
A “majority” of Komel’s head was also “missing,” according to Detective Brian Bone, “Both of her hands were found to be missing…the top of her body [was] facing toward the West and her feet facing toward the East. She was lying on her stomach at the time of her discovery. Her feet were spread apart and the body of a third person (believed to be a child) was lying partially between her legs.” 21 Detective Bone also “noted that two of the bodies were missing their heads. It appeared the two adult sized bodies did not appear to have heads or skulls attached to them.”22
Officer Broughten stated Rani’s body was somewhere “between the two adult bodies”23 and Detective Booth added that Rani’s head was found “between the legs of Komel – pointing west.”24 Detective Booth also noted “entry and exit bullet holes” found in the child’s skull.25
According to Detective Bone, Rani’s entire right arm and shoulder were missing from her arm socket. The child’s body was found lying on her left side, with her head facing north-east and her feet facing south-west. She had sweatpants and a short sleeve, or sleeveless, shirt on.26 Bullet fragments were also removed from Rani’s head.27
All three bodies were found in an advanced state of decomposition. Medical Examiner Dr. Jessica Lelinski and Medical Examiner Investigator Gregg Spandl “examined and removed” the three deceased bodies from the Crowley residence. According to Detective Bone, Dr. Lelinski “found what she initially reported were possible gun shot wounds to the heads of all three bodies.”28
The BCA crime scene team “found a total of six empty spent cartridges (40 caliber)…The Crime Scene Team also found three bullet fragments in the carpet in the area that the bodies were found…The gun was loaded with a round in the chamber and a magazine inserted into the gun at the time of its discovery.”
In the basement, police found a bullet hole “which appeared to originate from the upstairs living room. After the scene was processed,” Detective Bone wrote in his report, “we were able to move the rug that the bodies were found on. The Crime Scene Team then located a hole in the floor which was consistent with a bullet being shot into the floor, from the living room and traveling through the floor and the suspended ceiling of the basement underneath the living room. After going through the ceiling the bullet entered the south exterior wall in the basement and lodged into the wall. The Crime Scene Team was able to collect the bullet from the wall as evidence.”29
On January 20th, 2015, at 1 p.m. Detective Sean McKnight received a phone call from the company responsible for cleaning up the Crowley house. The unnamed cleaning company contacted Detective McKnight “at the request of David’s father.” According to Detective Bone, the cleaners told Detective McKnight “that while picking up the rug from the main living room area a bullet had come out of the carpet and fallen to the floor. They were uncertain exactly where the bullet had been on the carpet, but said that it had fallen out of the rug and onto the adjacent hardwood floor.”
Detective Bone and Detective McKnight immediately went back to the Crowley house and took photos of where the bullet was found, which was “approximately 1’10” from the west wall of the living room and approximately 3’1” S. of the corner wall, which leads to the dining area of the residence.”30
“The bullet was predominantly flat on the back,” Detective Bone continued, “and was sitting on the front/mushroomed portion of the bullet. The bullet appeared to be mostly intact at the time of our discovering it.”31
After the bullet was photographed it was taken to the Apple Valley Police Department and sealed as evidence.32
Klein, Klien, Cline
On February 17th, 2015, Detective Brian Bone spoke with Christopher Peter Klien over the phone after a neighbor notified police of “a suspicious person” inside David Crowley’s house on January 19th, 2015. Klien is mentioned in two police reports, one written by Detective Bone and another by Detective Sean McKnight. Neither report specifies how the neighbor identified Klien as the person who entered the house two days after police found the three bodies.
Detective Bone “had been trying to locate Klien to learn why he had been at the Crowley residence on 1-19-15, as a neighbor had called in about a suspicious person at the house. Klien received my business card at his residence and called me back at approximately 1700 hours on 2-17-15.” In their phone conversation, Klien stated he entered the house on January 19th, 2015, with Daniel Crowley Sr. and Daniel Crowley Jr.
Detective Bone reported that Klien “indicated to me that he had been in the house since the discovery of the Crowley family at the residence. He said he had been there with David’s father and brother and had seen there were two shot rounds in the “floor” and “roof”.”33
However, Daniel Crowley Sr. denied being at the house with Klien on that date. When Detective Sean McKnight contacted Daniel Crowley Sr. on February 18th, 2015, “He told me he was not aware of the bullet hole and had not gone into the home with Cline.”34
Mason Hendricks told me that he was also at the house when the bullet hole in the living room ceiling was originally discovered. As soon as Hendricks entered the house he looked up at the ceiling and told another friend who was there, “They couldn’t see the hole?”
“Kline wanted to ask me questions about the status of the investigation,” wrote Detective Bone, “and was speculating about how many rounds had been discharged at the house.”35
“During the initial processing of the crime scene,” Detective McKnight reported, “we knew that we could not account for several bullets that may have been fired from the gun used. The information given to Detective Bone could not be verified since we could not establish a definite connect between the reporter and the family.”
Detective McKnight and Detective Bone returned to the Crowley residence on February 18th, 2015, at 5 p.m. looking for a bullet hole near the living room ceiling. “Detective Bone and I went to the home and found the bullet hole near the entry way in close proximity to where the Christmas tree had been.”36
The detectives found the bullet in the attic, “The measurements and collection of the bullet was completed by the crime scene team,” Detective McKnight reported. “I stayed at the home the entire time and assisted the crime scene team in locating and documenting the location of the bullet.” Police stayed at the Crowley residence until 7:35 p.m.37
Question for the Apple Valley Police Department: Who was actually in the house on January 19th, 2015? Daniel Crowley Sr. denied being in the house with Christopher Klien. Were the two differing stories ever followed-up on? Was either Daniel Crowley Jr. or Mason Hendricks in the house with Klien on the 19th?
“It’s pretty difficult to not see this hole in the ceiling,” Hendricks told me. He also said the bullet found in the attic was tested for what turned out to be David’s blood. Hendricks and some other friends of David spent a few days cleaning and organizing things in the Crowley house before some family members arrived, including Sidrah Alam.
Hendricks said he and friends were looking for anything in the house that would answer the question as to why David Crowley murdered his wife, daughter, and then committed suicide, “We took and tore into everything, you know, ceilings, up in the attic. We were everywhere.”
In the end Hendricks didn’t find anything in the house that would explain the alleged double-murder suicide, yet he still believes David is guilty, “I don’t believe anybody’s ever really gonna know what actually, how it all happened.”
I am sure we would all like to see the photographs taken on January 17th that prove there was a bullet hole in the living room ceiling during the initial search of the house. Detective Bone made sure to mention those photos on page 79 of the AVPD police reports, “In viewing these photos I could see the hole in the ceiling, which we discovered on 2-18-15.”38
Still the question remains, how did police miss a bullet hole right above their heads? If they missed that bullet hole, and the bullet that allegedly killed David, what else could they have missed? What did authorities find in the Crowley house that led them to believe David Crowley killed his wife, daughter and then himself, leaving the family dog to starve to death?
Were David and Komel in need of money? “The Crowley’s had money in the bank,” Detective Bone wrote, “but were decreasing their savings and checking account balances during the time from July 2014 to January 2015.”39
An envelope from David’s father, with a $14,000 check inside, remained on the Crowley’s door stoop for three weeks.40 Was David expecting the check or was it a surprise? Mason Hendricks told me the check was nothing more than a gift from David’s father.
At the time, $14,000 seemed like such a random number to me. It was only after a comment by Justin, posted in the Justice for David Crowley & family Facebook group, that I learned about something called the gift tax. Intuit’s Turbo Tax website explains, “For tax purposes, a gift is a transfer of property for less than its full value. In other words, if you aren’t paid back, at least not fully, it’s a gift.” The “Present-interest gift” allows someone to avoid the gift tax by giving away up to $14,000 to any individual, yearly, giving to as many individuals as the donor chooses to.
Danny Jr. told police he dropped off a stack of Christmas presents along with the check and a bill from David’s lawyer on December 28th, 2014. However, initial media reports stated Dan Jr. wasn’t sure about the exact date he dropped off the presents, but it was either December 26th or 27th. Even though Dan Jr. saw the dog in the window, he apparently did not see “ALLAHU AKBAR” written in blood on the wall behind the dog.
Notes to Nowhere
Did police believe David snapped because of what they found written in Komel’s blood on the living room wall? Why did police believe David Crowley was the only one who could have written “ALLAHU AKBAR”? When police entered the house they didn’t know it was Komel’s blood written on the wall and they didn’t know who wrote ALLAHU AKBAR.41
“Blood and partial fingerprints” were found on the opened laptop in the kitchen area. On the laptop screen were the words, “I have loved you all with all of my heart.” Even though the text was not signed, police immediately assumed the words were written by David Crowley.
The laptop was plugged into a power source on the kitchen island. Blood was swabbed from an iPhone on the kitchen island. “Below the iPhone,” Detective Bone reported, “on the floor, were what appeared to be bloody footprints from bare feet. The only body on scene that was barefooted was the male body.”42
Bloody prints were also found “between the dining room and the living room” next to the laptop on the kitchen island.43
“Open “The Rise” most recent version” was written on a notepad in the office bedroom. Underneath that sentence was written, “Submit to Allah NOW.” Notice how this time Allah is not written in all capital letters.
On the previous page of this notepad is an interesting checklist. In fact, there were many notes, checklists, and various writings seen throughout the office. Both pages of the note pad had blood on them.
Detective Bone reported, “The latent fingerprints found on the note pad from the office revealed two suitable prints for comparison. One was inconclusive as belonging to David Crowley due to the limited quality of the print and the other indicated the print came from David Crowley’s left middle finger. No other meaningful results were discovered in the latent print examination.”
Joe Cooksley of the BCA crime scene team told Detective Bone “the indented writings analysis would not be completed unless otherwise noted. I advised Cooksley that the exam of the indented writings was not needed at this time.”44
How did the dog survive for three weeks? From Detective Bone’s perspective, “It appeared as though the dog had fed on the heads and hands of both adults. We also found a great deal of blood and hair debris in the kitchen living room and hallway area.”45
What did the dog drink? Water, blood or both? There were three toilets inside the Crowley residence, but only two of those were found with the toilet seat lid up. The basement bathroom toilet seat lid is left, with very little water inside.
Dog feces are clearly visible in the images released by the Apple Valley Police Department.
David’s brother, Danny Crowley Jr., saw the dog through the window when he dropped off a stack of Christmas presents at the house on December 28th, 2014. Detective Bone learned that Danny “left the presents on the front step and did not make contact with the family. He said he saw the dog come to the window of the front of the house, but left shortly after that, not wanting a confrontation with David. [Daniel] said he did not look into the window at anytime and did not see the family during his visit.”46
Did the dog bark when it came to the window to see Danny? Did any neighbors hear the dog barking or whining for three weeks? Collin heard the dog on the morning of January 17th, 2015, but did he hear the dog any time before then or after December 25th, 2014? The dog was eventually given over to Danny Crowley.47
The Gray Stage
During a phone conversation on January 19th, 2015 with Detective Tommie Booth, Danny Mason claimed his “involvement with ‘Gray State’ and Crowley was strictly as an actor and as a friend but had not been involved in any financing or was actually listed on any paperwork as a partner with Crowley and Heil.”48
Danny Mason’s name may not be written on any paperwork regarding Gray State, but he is credited with creating the Gray State story at one point. Danny Mason never signed the request form to relinquish all rights as an actor so David could take Gray State in a different direction. Mitch Heil, on the other hand, signed the form as David requested, in order to save their friendship.49
Also on January 19th, 2015, Detective McKnight and Detective Bone arrived at Daniel Crowley Sr.’s house. David’s brother Daniel and sister Allison were with their father when the detectives arrived. “They explained to me that David and his wife Komel had distanced themselves from the family since mid-October,” Detective McKnight reported. Together Dan Sr., Dan Jr. and Allison created a timeline of events, which was emailed by Dan Jr. to Detective McKnight before January 23rd, 2015.
Raniya Crowley’s fifth birthday party took place at the Crowley residence on August 10th, 2014. Everything was normal, according to Daniel Sr., “They thanked me for grilling at Raniya’s party and David said “Love you dad”…which was strange I guess.”50 David’s mom Kate was also at the party. It was the last time Kate saw David, Komel or Raniya alive. Danny Mason also attended the birthday party.
“A lot of writers, producers and film makers who were all in some way, shape or form related to the movie and concept trailer of ‘Gray State’” were also at the birthday party, according to what Danny Mason told Detective Booth.51
Sometime after the birthday party, but before August 30th, 2014, Daniel Crowley Sr. wrote that Dan Jr. “talked to David on the phone. Was supposed to baby-sit. Last time DJ and David spoke.” On August 31st, 2014, David Crowley declined an invite to his father’s house, “as they were too busy. I asked if he was ok. I tell him he sounds stressed and ask if there is anything I can do to help. He says no, nothing out of the ordinary.” David declined another invite from his father on September 6th, 2014.
Then on September 21st, Daniel Sr. was ready to take Raniya to the zoo, “Last minute [David] tried to discourage me from picking up Raniya. He was busy working on the house. The weather looked funky. I picked her up anyway. After the zoo I stopped in to talk. He was about to make a big movie deal. Talked about big shot lawyers from the IDS building he was going to fly to LA to do final negotiations with the producers. He was going to be a millionaire by the end of the year. They were busy and didn’t seem like they wanted me to hang around so I left.” That was the last time Daniel Crowley Sr. saw David, Komel, or Raniya.52
Danny Mason also addressed the $30 million dollar movie deal David Crowley was involved in. “At one point in time,” Detective Booth reported, “[Danny Mason] thought that the movie studios had come back saying it was going to run roughly $30 million to produce a full length movie of ‘Gray State’. Mr. Mason was unsure as to whether or not any actual paperwork or contracts were signed to make a full-length movie.”53
The last time Danny Mason saw David Crowley was in September of 2014, “But he could not remember the exact date,” Booth reported. “[Danny Mason] stated he had come over [to] the Crowley’s residence to talk to David concerning the movie and where the movie was heading. [Danny] talked to David out in the driveway of the residence and had stated that David had looked like he had lost a bunch of weight and was fragile.”54
Detective Tommie Booth spoke with friend and former business partner of David Crowley, Mitch Heil, over the phone on January 19th, 2015. “According to Mitchell,” Booth reported, “the concept trailer and the actual movie were going to be completely different. He also stated that David started working on a documentary and started talking about a [mini] series concerning the project. Mitchell stated that he needed to be able to make some money and thought that he wasn’t seeing the bigger picture that David was seeing concerning the movie. ‘Gray State’ was David’s project to begin with so Mitchell totally separated from ‘Gray State’ giving all rights to David concerning the project…the movie went so far away from the concept trailer, it started going heavily into the conspiracy of killing people.”55
The last time Mitch Heil saw David was on September 24th, 2014, when the two met in the driveway of the Crowley residence. David wouldn’t let him inside the house when Heil “signed over all of his rights in reference to Hot Head and Bullet Exchange LLC to David.” While Heil “described David as a great family man,” he easily accepted the theory that David was guilty of a double-murder suicide.56 Based on what evidence?
It was also sometime in late September of 2014 when Collin Prochnow “noticed a big change in David’s appearance,” wrote Officer Becker. “Most alarming to [Collin Prochnow] was that he observed that [David] only dressed in Army fatigues and had shaved his head into a style of a Mohawk. Collin indicated that they never had a conversation about his appearance change but they still had friendly contact after this change in his appearance in the September/October months of 2014.”1
Daniel Crowley Sr. had “no correspondence recorded in October. I was in Germany and busy as usual.”2 On October 1st, 2014, Danny Mason received an email from David Crowley’s attorney “asking for Mr. Mason to release any rights he had as an actor in the movie so that David could take the script and movie a different route than what was originally planned.” Mason did not respond to the request. Instead Danny gave the release form to his own attorney to review.3
On October 7th, 2014, David Crowley sent an email to Danny Mason. “The email stated, in summary,” Booth reported, “that David had decided to take the ‘Gray State’ into a different path than what they originally had thought and in order for him to do what he needed to do, Mr. Mason needed to sign a Release Form releasing him of his rights to the movie…Mr. Mason stated that he replied back to David’s e-mail telling him that he needed his attorney to have time to look it over before he signed any release concerning the movie.”4
Raniya Crowley attended Cyprus Montessori in Burnsville Minnesota. School administrator Michelle Marie Wallick told Detective Gummert and Detective Booth about the only incident she could recall with Raniya in October of 2014. Raniya “came to school sometime during the school day, became very upset and tried to hide in the classroom,” Detective Booth reported. “When the teacher found her she was cowering in a corner and crying and saying that she was afraid, so much so that she could not calm down enough and she had to be sent to the office to calm down.”5
Only one of the Crowley parents attended teacher conferences. In fact, all communication the school had with the family went through that particular parent. It’s not clear which parent Wallick was referring to.6 Sidrah told me it was Komel who communicated with the school.
Heidie JoAnn Lish “got together regularly” with Komel during the spring of 2014. Lish spoke with Komel two times in August of 2014 but had no contact with Komel the following month. Lish told Detective Gummert that Komel “quit her job at the eating disorder clinic called Melrose at Methodist Hospital. Heidie said that although [Komel] would get back to her via text in October it became more and more inconsistent and that she started to talk about things she hadn’t discussed in the past.” Komel talked about starting her own dietician practice in California.7
Komel’s sister Sidrah arrived in Minnesota on October 19th, 2014, to pick up her dad’s Acura at the Crowley residence. Sidrah first went to the Apple Valley Police Department to “discuss a possible escort” to the Crowley house, but this was a civil matter, according to the officer she spoke with, and the request was declined. Sidrah was advised to call 911 “if issues did arise.”8
Earlier in October of 2014, according to Detective Gummert, David called Komel’s father “and in the conversation was swearing at him and advises him that they were no longer allowed to contact the family and that they were to leave the family alone.”9 When Sidrah contacted David she too was told not to contact the Crowley family.
Dan Hennen spoke with Komel’s father, Mr. Anjum Alam, in August of 2015, and specifically asked about the conversation with David, “[Anjum Alam] said, I don’t remember ever being yelled at by David. We had some disagreements but I got along with him just fine. So he didn’t seem to recall that conversation in October. Sidrah’s version seemed to really stand out as something that she really took offense to, that her father was really hurt by, and her father said, We had our disagreements here and there but all families have those and he shook it off and it didn’t seem to affect him that much.”
Komel didn’t respond to Sidrah’s text messages or phone calls, which was highly unusual since the two sisters normally communicated two or three times a day.10 “According to Sidrah,” Detective Gummert wrote in his report, “she felt that David had all the power and controlled her sister.”11
Anjum Alam (Komel and Sidrah’s father) loaned Komel and David his Acura back in May of 2014, when they needed a vehicle. When Sidrah arrived in Minnesota on October 19th, she planned on picking up her father’s Acura and taking it back to Texas. In exchange for the Acura, Sidrah was going to leave her own Toyota for Komel and David to use.12
According to Detective Gummert, “Sidrah stated that upon her arrival at the residence on Ramsdell drive, David came to the door to speak with her. She stated that he appeared very skinny, his hair was disheveled and she stated in her words “looked crazy.””13
Sidrah was not allowed to see her sister. David “told her to go to her car and he would come out to speak with her in the driveway. She stated David went out [to] the vehicle and advised her again that they did not want contact with her or her family. He stated that he along with Komel felt that they were treating Komel’s mother inappropriately and there was some type of shady dealings going on with the situation down in [ – ]. Sidrah told David that they were welcome to call the hospital and speak with their mother and hospital staff to find out that they were not doing anything inappropriate.”
David agreed to let Sidrah take her father’s Acura but she had to take the Toyota with her as well. When Sidrah came back to the Crowley home sixty minutes later the Acura was parked on the street. Sidrah parked the Toyota in the driveway. When she sat in the driver’s seat of the Acura she noticed a picture of her mom, her sister Komel and herself on the odometer.
On the back of the picture was a written message signed by Komel, “I will always love you and mom.” Sidrah felt something was wrong as she drove back to Texas. “I know she was being abused emotionally just because of that picture,” Sidrah told me. “Just imagine, she couldn’t tell her own sister she loved her face to face. Had to write a note in the back of a picture. Just shows how controlling he was.”
I asked why would David allow Komel to leave the picture in the car if he was so controlling? “She probably told him she wanted to let me know she loved me and that if she wasn’t allowed to see me at least let her write a note for me. Or she was sneaky enough to run outside to put a note while he was in the bathroom, who knows.” Soon after Sidrah returned to Texas with her father’s Acura, Mr. Alam cut off David’s phone service and limited Komel’s phone plan.14
On October 19th, 2014, according to Dan Crowley Sr., “Allison and Komel corresponded regarding conditions of Komel’s mother (cancer).” Also in late October, David gave Dan Jr. his new cell phone number. Some time between November 1st and November 7th, 2014, Dan Crowley Jr. sent a text message to David “saying he loves him and would like to make things right.” David did not respond to the text.
On November 7th, 2014, Dan Sr. sent a text to David “to see if he is still alive.” The next day David replied “that everything is great! Family life had swept them away! I reply, how are the negotiations going with the producers?” The following day on November 9th, David told his father, “I walked away from it. Reasons of the spirit I guess.” That statement contradicts what one of the producers, Mike Boggio III, later told Dan Hennen on October 26th, 2017. On November 18th, 2014, according to Dan Crowley Sr., David declined a thanksgiving invitation to his aunt’s house, “He replied that they wanted to stay home this year, but thanks.”
On November 20th, Allison Crowley sent David an email at 2:01 p.m., “It’s one thing to bar your siblings from your life and goings-on, but when mom calls me weeping and convinced that you’re dead, my frustration with not being able to have a relationship with you turns to fury. I get that you’re busy and you don’t need us. But I’m busy too and don’t have time to perpetually talk mom off a ledge because you won’t spare five minutes a week (if that) to talk to her. Call her. Give her your phone number at least.” David did not reply to his sister’s email.15
The next day on November 21st, at 11:56 a.m. Allison sent an email to Komel, hoping David would contact his mother Kate, “Do you mind telling him to get a hold of mom? She’s taken to calling me everyday, convinced you guys are dead.”16
Komel responded at 4:14 p.m., writing that Kate had their new phone numbers, “Given that we are all well acquainted with mom’s history of forgetfulness and exaggeration of her reality and situation, I would humbly suggest not succumbing to hasty emotional reactions over erroneous information that has no logical basis.”
At 7:53 p.m. Allison explained, “I don’t like having to convince an intoxicated mom that you guys aren’t dead. Of course I didn’t think you were dead, but I also know that every time I talk to anyone in the family, they ask if I’ve heard from you. It’s like nobody has heard from you. It feels like you’ve disappeared over the past few months…it feels like [David is] putting up barriers and I don’t understand why. I don’t know if I’ve done something wrong. I’m eager to make it right if I have. Is there a reason for the recent silence?”17
“There is a reason for the recent silence,” Komel responded on November 22nd, at 7:39 a.m. “I didn’t think it was necessary for either David and I to spell it out, but this is all I choose to share; we are dealing with an endless list of deeply personal issues silently as adults, as lovers, as partners and parents. With that said, I refuse to play mom’s emotionally-manipulating games and I will not allow my husband’s participation in such ventures. My advice to you would be the same one I am practicing myself: turn off your phone and don’t let out-of-state calls dictate how you should be feeling or what you should be doing at any given time.”
“All right,” Allison wrote back, “Best of luck with everything.”18
Sidrah was not convinced it was really her sister who was exchanging with Allison. “Komel never talked that way,” she told me. “If you knew her you know she was not capable of writing that, especially to Allison who she loved dearly. Just reading the email, the tone that comes out of it has David written all over it. And that’s something only people that knew them can tell. It’s funny because as soon as my dad read it, I didn’t even tell him I felt that wrote this, halfway thru reading it he yelled that’s David writing this, not Komel.”
Dan Sr. sent David a text message on November 26th, “I texted him that we were there for him for any support they needed.” Two days later Dan Sr. sent another text message to David about a lawyer bill from Lommen Abdo. David didn’t respond to either message.
It was either December 6th or 7th, 2014, when Mason Hendricks last saw David Crowley. “It was odd,” Hendricks told me over the phone. “Usually, he would let you in.” David asked why Hendricks had shown up. Hendricks had borrowed a camera lens and was returning it to David. “He looked like shit,” Hendricks told me. David looked like he hadn’t been “eating much and smelt bad.”
Hendricks looked into the house, expecting to hear Rani running around or Komel cooking in the background, but Hendricks did not see or hear either of them while he was standing on the front door stoop, “It was just tense.” David gave Hendricks three books on film and lighting. Hendricks wondered if David was subconsciously preparing himself for what was about to happen at the end of the month.
On December 9th, or December 10th, 2014, Collin Prochnow awoke to the sound of gunshots sometime between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. Collin thought the sounds came from “the area of the Crowley residence.” Collin “checked the back of his residence and thought it was fireworks,” Officer Becker reported.19
On December 15th, Allison emailed Komel about getting together at Dan Sr.’s house for “Christmas Eve festivities.” Komel declined. “Is there a chance that Suz and I might see you guys while we’re in Minnesota?” Allison asked Komel.
“Here is the answer to your question: please go back and read the email you sent to my husband on my birthday,” Komel wrote back. “READ IT. Carefully take in each word that you accused him of, and imagine your brother’s face and if you have any God forsaken love left for him, you will be forced to imagine the face that cried to you trying to show you his heavily burdened heart back in August. We’re not kids anymore. Take some responsibility for your words and stop pretending your fuck ups are forgotten by others just because your mind has chosen to get over it.”20
December 19th was the last day Rani Crowley attended school. That day was also the last time Chris Peck saw his “mentor” David Crowley and Komel. David and Komel went to Chris Peck’s house at 1 p.m. to purchase a small amount of marijuana. Detective Booth spoke with Peck, who “worked on and off with David on the project of ‘Gray State’.”21
On December 23rd, 2014, Sidrah noticed her cell phone had two missed calls from an unknown number at 9:36 a.m. and 11:40 a.m.22 Sidrah believed both calls came from her sister. December 23rd is also the date when the delivery driver for “Sun Thisweek” delivered the weekly community newspaper to the Crowley’s mailbox.23 However, the boy’s mother told Detective Bone that her son delivered the newspaper on December 24th.24
Additionally, Detective Bone spoke with the circulation coordinator for Sun Thisweek, Kathy Silberg. Silberg explained that the newspaper dated December 26th was “published and printed before that date.” The paper “could have been delivered on December 24, 25, or 26.” Detective Bone learned the “papers were delivered for pickup by the delivery drivers on 12-24-14. Silberg explained that the papers are left at a centralized location for the delivery drivers to pick up and then deliver.” If Silberg’s dates are accurate, there is no way the delivery driver delivered the newspaper to the Crowley residence on December 23rd.25
When Detective Bone spoke with the delivery driver, “He said he delivered it on 12-23-14 between 1400 and 1500 hours…he did not deliver the paper dated 1-2-15, as he was out of town on vacation with his family.” Did detectives ever ask how the driver delivered the newspaper on December 23rd if the paper wasn’t ready to be picked up until December 24th? Even so, Detective Bone concluded his report by stating, “As of this time it is believed the paper that was found in the kitchen garbage can could have been brought in anytime after 1500 hours on 12-23-14.”26
The last Thisweek newspaper delivered to the Crowley’s was dated January 2nd, 2015, which was photographed on January 17th. Why weren’t the January 8th and 15th editions of Sun Thisweek delivered to the Crowley residence?
Police learned there was “activity” on David’s Dropbox account on December 25th, 2014.27 December 25th is also the date of death written on Komel’s gravestone. On January 17th, 2015, Detective Sean McKnight wrote, “Preservation requests were sent to Facebook and Twitter to ensure that the sites could be recorded as they were that evening.”28 So if the request was sent to Facebook on January 17th, why were certain Facebook posts hidden or deleted from Facebook after that date? There is one specific post that was either hidden from public view or was deleted from Facebook.
Mason Hendricks told me Sean Wright “found out the hard way that it’s illegal to not file income taxes in the state of Minnesota and now is paying lots and lots of fiat currency-based dollars back to the state of Minnesota.”
Posting as Gray State: The Rise on Facebook on December 24th, 2014, David once again talked about his plans for the future. The Facebook post was also hidden or removed from the page after his death. It’s believed that Sean Wright made several posts as Gray State: The Rise after David’s death.
The Gray Strange
The earliest report in the 94 page public release is dated January 21st, 2015. The last dated report is at 1:08 p.m. on October 7th, 2015. When they spoke over the phone on January 19th, 2015, Sidrah Alam asked Detective Gummert to contact her instead of her father. Gummert agreed and worked with Sidrah on a daily basis.29
On March 14th, 2015, Detective Bone, Detective Sergeant Jim Gummert and Detective McKnight met with Crowley family members to explain “the facts of the case to the family at that time.” “No details or information were withheld,” Detective Bone stated in his report. As of March 17th, Detective Bone still had not received “results from the BCA regarding fingerprints.”30 The detective wouldn’t receive copies of the autopsy reports for David, Komel and Rani Crowley until March 24th, 2015.31
So when police spoke with “David’s mother and father and two siblings and Komel’s sister, Sidrah” on March 14th, 2015, the authorities had not yet received the autopsy results, the BCA’s lab findings, or the digital forensics results from the Dakota County Electronics Crimes Task Force. While it is encouraging that police did not withhold any information or details from the family members, it is discouraging to learn that police “presented the facts of the case” without having all of the facts at their disposal.
After receiving the results of the DNA tests from the BCA crime scene team on March 16th, 2015, Detective Brian Bone reported, “David’s DNA was found on the gun and magazine. The report also indicated that it was Komel’s blood [ censored ], the foot prints near the kitchen island, the laptop computer, the iPhone on the kitchen island, and the note in the office.”32
The BCA crime scene report, “which details all items that were examined”, was not part of the 94 page public release.
As of May 5th, 2015, Detective Brian Booth “did not have any information about what may have led to David shooting Komel and Raniya and then committing suicide.”33 On October 7th, 2015, Detective Bone reported, “Detective Klokonos and the [Dakota County Electronics Crime Task Force] did not find any information on the related devices that showed motive or cause for what happened during or up to this incident.”34
“Throughout this investigation,” Detective Bone continued, “the AVPD has not discovered any information or evidence that shows anybody but David Crowley is the perpetrator of these crimes, including the killing of his wife, child, and himself.” How much time and effort did police put into looking for evidence that showed anyone other than David was the perpetrator?
Police were quick to point out they found no signs of forced entry, no signs of a struggle, or “any type of altercation. Nothing appeared to be missing or removed from the house.”35 Immediately, I wondered why AVPD Captain Jon Rechtzeil believed “David snapped and took the lives of his wife and daughter, and then ultimately himself,” as he told Fox 9 news anchor Tom Lyden during an interview.
“Here you’re talking about conspiracy theories and potentially the fall of society,” Captain Rechtzeil continued. “If you’re focusing on that day-in-and-day-out and those are the materials you’re working with and you’re filming exclusively on that topic; that can take you to a very bad place.” Asked if he believed David Crowley “went down the rabbit-hole of these conspiracy theories and just couldn’t separate himself from that,” Captain Rechtzeil answered, “I believe so…If that’s all you’re working on, it can take you to a bad place.”
94 pages and 464 crime scene photos later, I still have not found any evidence to suggest David Crowley murdered his wife, his daughter and then himself. What did police find on January 17th, 2015, to suggest David Crowley was guilty? The alleged double-murder suicide was first reported through a phone call from Judy Prochnow on January 17th, 2015, at 12:56 p.m. Officers arrived to the Crowley residence at 1:04 p.m. The scene was “cleared” at 5:09 p.m. the same day.36
I asked Mason Hendricks why, after a year-long investigation, the public had been given so little information about this case, “That’s because of DHS. That’s why. DHS and FBI had to sign off.” Hendricks wasn’t sure if the Department of Homeland Security and FBI were conducting their own investigations or if they were leading the AVPD’s investigation. Sean Wright also mentioned DHS and FBI when I spoke with him. Yet, according to Detective Gummert, neither the DHS or FBI were involved in the investigation.
Detective McKnight and Detective Bone met with Kate Crowley and her daughter Allison between January 19th, and January 23rd, 2015 at Kate’s house. Kate last saw David, Komel and Rani on August 10th, 2014, she told the detectives. Kate was sure that “David and Komel loved each other and loved their daughter. She had trouble believing that David would do anything to harm his family without Komel being in agreement with him.”37
That leads us back to the theory of a “pact” between David and Komel to kill their daughter and themselves. Days after the bodies were discovered both Sean Wright and Mason Hendricks speculated about a pact between David and Komel to end their lives together. The lack of Rani’s blood found at the scene led some to believe, including Hendricks, that Rani was killed after Komel. If true, that doesn’t line up with the alleged pact theory.
More recently, Mason Hendricks changed his mind about a possible pact, telling me it was the family that had initially led some to believe there was a pact between the couple. He no longer believes that theory. The pact would prove premeditation to me. Hendricks did not believe this crime was premeditated.
Sidrah Alam told me she never believed there was a pact of any type between her sister and David to end their lives. The two biggest questions I have about the alleged pact is where did that theory originate from and who still believes it?
Kate Crowley died on August 9th, 2015. Three important images were taken by police on January 17th, 2015. Images DSC 0445-0447 reveal portions of David’s childhood writings, including some background information about David’s mom. “My mom didn’t have any free time at all,” wrote David, “She often did the cooking for her dad, while the kids mostly got leftovers or they cooked for themselves…after dinner she usually did all the cleaning up with her sister Eileen…my mother didn’t have a very good childhood. She has a large scar above her eye where her dad once hit her. I’m surprised she turned out as nice and healthy as she is.”
David also wrote about his older brother Daniel, who was fifteen at the time of the writing. David was probably twelve when he wrote, “About three, four years ago my grandpa decided he hated us because my brother Danny entered a church club called “Cubbies.” He thought Christians were wimps and simply turned against us.”
David “acted very strangely” around his older brother. “Whenever he tried to read, I’d sit in his lap. Once I was crawling all over him for no apparent reason while he was trying to read. As he got older he got meaner and meaner to me…even now, when he’s fifteen, he still beats up on me. There’s nothing I can do about it except wait a few more years until he gets shipped off to college. Yes!”
The crime scene photos are stored on three CDs in the possession of the Apple Valley Police Department, under the following labels: ME 15-0366 Crowley, DME 15-0367, and KME 15-0368.
Up Next: My Conversation with Sidrah Alam
Justice for David Crowley & family Facebook Group.
A Gray Shame by Greg Fernandez Jr.
Still More Questions than Answers by Dan Hennen
Shades of Gray State by 21st Century Wire
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