Friends of David and Komel Crowley were in disbelief and anguish Monday, two days after the bodies of the couple and their 5-year-old daughter, Rani, were found in their Apple Valley home.
Apple Valley police said Monday that the three died of gunshot wounds, and they continued to characterize it as "an apparent murder suicide."
Their bodies went undiscovered for up to four weeks. A neighbor stopped by the house about 12:30 p.m. Saturday to collect packages that were piling up on the front stoop of the tidy white rambler. The neighbor called police after looking in a window and seeing the bodies lying in the living room. A black handgun lay nearby.
Mason Hendricks, a close friend, said Crowley and his wife amazingly close and in-tune and speculated that even their deaths had to have been a mutual decision.
"You could not imagine a more committed couple," he said. "They just fed off each other."
Crowley left behind a two-sentence note, but Hendricks wouldn't say what it said.
"It's very short. It's very puzzling. Honestly it doesn't [explain what happened.] It doesn't put much into perspective. It's two sentences. That's all it is."
Hendricks said he last talked to Crowley on the phone on Dec. 2. Another friend talked to him by phone on the 16th or 17th of December, then his brother, Dan, dropped off Christmas presents on the 26th or 27th.
Dan Crowley told Hendricks on Monday that the Crowleys' dog, Paleo, popped his head up into the large front window. Dan Crowley didn't want to bother his brother and sister-in-law, so left and later called and texted his brother a couple of times, with no reply.
Crowley's father, reached on Monday, said he was not ready to talk about the deaths.
Crowley, 29, a filmmaker and screenwriter, worked at home and it wasn't unusual for him to become a recluse while working. Komel Crowley, 28, was a self-employed dietitian who was trying to develop a business. Their daughter wasn't in school yet or in day care because both parents were usually with her, Hendricks said.
"It's a surprise, it's a travesty, it's honest-to-God terrible," Hendricks said. "But literally there was no indication."
"There are no answers," he said. "What you're ultimately hearing is you had an awesome human being who loved his family and loved life. Then there's something that none of us know.
"He's not a person who snaps. He was too methodical," Hendricks said.
Crowley was listed as the writer and director of a movie-in-progress called "Gray State" and was a co-owner of the project. He had gone to Hollywood in April or May last year and told friends that producers were interested in buying his screenplay for a lot of money and wanted to make the movie.
Crowley's garage contained an arsenal of props for the movie — camouflage clothing, automatic weapons, gas masks and flak jackets. He and a friend had started a company called the Bullet Exchange, to rent the props and train actors to use weapons in films.
Komel Crowley was Pakistani, and her family in Texas didn't approve of her marrying a white military-type guy, Hendricks said. Crowley and his family didn't talk too much either, he said.
Hendricks said that Crowley lost 20 or 30 pounds last fall, but attributed it to being consumed by his projects.
"When he gets into something, he gets into it," Hendricks said. "He didn't look like himself. I don't know."
Although Crowley was an Army veteran and had served in Afghanistan, he wasn't a "gun nut," didn't suffer from PTSD and was very anti-militarism, Hendricks said.
"I know that people and media and different outlets are going to paint him as this right-wing extremist that had guns. The guy believed in peaceful stuff," Hendricks said. "He believed in waking people up through knowledge, not through violence."
A Facebook group called Justice for David Crowley and Family has been started "to investigate the odd circumstances surrounding the death of David Crowley, his wife and daughter." As of Monday, the group had 25 members.
Hendricks and other friends went to visit Paleo at an animal hospital Monday. The dog will probably go to Crowley's brother after police finish their investigation, Hendricks said.
Staff writer M.L. Smith contributed to this report.