In the white rambler in the 1000 block of Ramsdell Drive in Apple Valley, a terrible sight awaited police: The bodies of a man, woman and child lying in the living room, the perpetrator and victims of an apparent murder-suicide.
The bodies may have been there for up to four weeks before they were found Saturday afternoon; neighbors next door and across the street said they hadn’t seen the family since before Christmas.
Authorities have not officially identified the people found in the home, but neighbors, real estate records and other data showed they were David T. Crowley, 29; his wife, Komel Crowley, 28, and their 5-year-old daughter, Rani. A black handgun lay nearby.
The family’s dog was still alive, but wild and aggressive when police arrived, said neighbor Collin Prochnow, who discovered the bodies.
Crowley’s father, Daniel, who lives in Owatonna, Minn., said he hadn’t heard from his son and daughter-in-law over the holidays.
“We tried,” he said in a brief telephone interview.
Prochnow said he assumed the Crowleys had gone out of town for awhile. He shoveled their driveway a couple of times, even though they usually did it themselves.
When Prochnow and his wife returned from an out-of-town visit, he noticed packages had piled up on the front stoop. Shortly after 12:30 p.m. Saturday, he walked next door to take the packages to his home and glanced in the large front window.
“To me, they just didn’t look human,” Prochnow said.
“He came home and said there were dummies [mannequins] on the floor. And a gun,” his wife, Judy, added.
Judy Prochnow said another neighbor had commented to her about the curtains at the Crowleys’ home being wide open when, usually, they were closed.
But neither the Prochnows nor Alice and Bill Hixson, who live across the street, heard any gunshots or a dog barking, they said.
Real estate records show the Crowleys bought the house in December 2013.
David Crowley worked out of his home as a filmmaker and screenwriter. In a trailer on YouTube, he is credited as writer and director of a movie-in-progress called “Gray State.” The frenetic trailer shows scenes of a militarized police force, gun violence and some kind of citizen insurgency. The trailer solicits online donations to help finance the project.
Mitch Heil, Crowley’s former business partner, said they had known each other since high school and served in the Army together. Crowley met his wife while he was stationed in Texas, and they married just before he was sent to Iraq.
On his LinkedIn profile, Crowley said of his time in the military, “After five years I had enough and left to pursue filmmaking.”
Heil is listed on the “Gray State” trailer as the movie’s director of photography. He said the two started a company called Bullet Exchange, which trained actors to use weapons in films.
But, he said, their business partnership had broken up last September, and he hadn’t talked to Crowley in months. Local actor Charles Hubbell starred in the movie trailer and contacted Heil about a month ago, saying he had been trying unsuccessfully to reach Crowley.
The Prochnows said David Crowley seemed like a good dad and had a trampoline set up in the back yard during the summer. Their grandchildren used to play with the Crowleys’ daughter.
The next-door neighbors said Crowley changed his appearance last fall, cut his hair short and started wearing fatigues.
“We noticed the change in his appearance,” Collin Prochnow said. “His personality didn’t seem to change. We never got into any kind of politics.”
Photos on Crowley’s Instagram account show him posing with an arsenal of firearms in his garage. One image shows him in a flak jacket, another in a gas mask. It was not known if the weapons and paraphernalia were real or props for his movie.
Komel was a registered dietitian with her own business, MindBody Dietitian. Her website said she offered services for everything from eating disorders and weight problems to autoimmune disorders, autism and fatigue.
Her profile said she was an amateur cake decorator, and she was active on Pinterest.
Inside the Crowleys’ home on Sunday, a small tinsel tree sat on the kitchen island/bar and a string of garland hung from it. The sectional sofa in the living room was torn apart, apparently by the dog, the Prochnows said, as were several small stuffed animals on the floor.
The mailbox and front stoop were bare.