In the days leading up to his death, David Crowley still had hope that his independent film would pan out.
But Crowley, an Apple Valley filmmaker and screenwriter, also showed concern over the project — “Gray State,” a movie that the Army veteran scripted but had yet to film.
In an email to a prospective producer, Crowley wrote that the project was “now almost completely abandoned” by its original backers and that he was “exhausted from carrying and managing this burden for so many years.”
“Maybe the work load got too crazy; I don’t know the personal reasons, but at the end of it all here I am at the end of the tunnel all alone,” he wrote to a Los Angeles first assistant director in an email obtained by the Pioneer Press. “The fans continue to gather, but they’re frustrated and despondent. No one believes anymore.”
Crowley reached out to Jason Allen in the Dec. 17 email, asking if he wanted to be an executive producer and help out with the logistics of the film project, which he started about four years ago and revolves around a plot of government conspiracy.
“Jason, you know exactly what to do with this,” Crowley wrote.
Allen didn’t get the opportunity to take Crowley up on his offer.
On Saturday, Apple Valley police found Crowley, 29; his wife, Komel, a 28-year-old dietitian; and their 5-year-old daughter, Rani, dead of gunshot wounds in what investigators are saying was a murder-suicide at the family’s home in the 1000 block of Ramsdell Drive.
The deaths left their families, neighbors and friends wondering what went wrong.
Mason Hendricks, a friend of the couple, said he was unaware of even the slightest hint of trouble — financial or otherwise — between David and Komel and that he “can’t comprehend how one of them would hurt each other.”
“I honestly believe — and this is all speculative — that this may have been a joint decision,” Hendricks said of the murder-suicide. “He and Komel had a great relationship.
On Wednesday, the Hennepin County medical examiner’s office confirmed the identities of the bodies. A manner of death for the three has not been released.
It isn’t known exactly when the three died, but neighbors have said they stopped seeing signs of life in the house around Christmas.
Hendricks said that one of David Crowley’s friends spoke with him on or around Dec. 17. Crowley’s brother, Dan, dropped off Christmas presents on their doorstep on Dec. 26 or 27. He saw the family’s dog, Paleo, in a window, but he didn’t knock because he didn’t want to bother the family. (Crowley’s brother is taking care of the dog, Hendricks said.)
David Crowley, an Owatonna, Minn., native, left behind a short note, Hendricks said. As far as its contents, Hendricks would say only that “it goes into some stuff that needs to be looked into later.”
Allen said he had been in touch with Crowley about his project over the past four years, mostly through emails. In September, Crowley flew to Los Angeles “to meet with possible financiers and producer-types,” Allen said, and that he seemed upbeat and positive about the project after the trip.
In his Dec. 17 email, Crowley wrote that in a few weeks he was going to release a 2 1/2-hour documentary, “a manifesto on the Gray State model (called The Rise), completely in tandem with a few new trailers for a Gray State series that has an integrated storyline.”
“When you see The Rise, and the new trailers for the #GRAYSTATE series, you’ll know what I mean when I say I have followed my heart at every step,” he wrote.
Crowley goes on to write that his wife was helping him build a database of professionals, actors and other industry contacts interested in the project, which he described as generating a “time bomb of public interest!”
For Allen, that energy and enthusiasm do not show a man who was about to give up on life.
“He was very much excited about releasing this documentary about his movie,” he said.
But the reality, Allen said, was that Crowley had severed ties with some of his original partners and was exploring other possibilities.
“That’s where I think David was coming to me, particularly in light of having these investors and financiers that ended up falling through,” Allen said.
Nick Ferraro can be reached at 651-228-2173. Follow him at twitter.com/NFerraroPiPress.