‘The thing you have to understand about conspiracy theory is that, at some point, it’s no longer a theory.’ — David Crowley
Casual viewers of documentary films often wrongly believe that documentaries are unbiased works of non-fiction when nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that there are at least four basic genres of documentary films, one of which is called “expository.”
Expository documentaries are exposés, which means that they uncover what’s hidden and often reveal a person or situation as bad or immoral in some way. The filmmaker usually comes to the project with a point of view on a topic and then, through the selection and editing of footage and facts, constructs a narrative that persuades the viewer to reach a predetermined conclusion. Of course, if the selection and omission of key facts is done disingenuously, then the result can be a powerful propaganda film.
Such is the case with “A Gray State” (2017).
‘It is morally reprehensible what we’re doing in the Middle East; and if you don’t fucking understand that yet, you need to open your eyes because you are a slave to the most insidious global agenda mankind has ever known, and you are directly responsible for that. At some point you’ve got to realize you’re just a dog jumping through hoops for the government.’ — David Crowley
On Jan. 17, 2015, police were called by neighbors to the home of fledgling filmmaker David Crowley, 29, his wife, Komel, 28, and their 5-year-old daughter, Rani. Inside, the family was found dead, their bodies heavily decomposed and the family dog alive and running loose.
Note: ‘A Gray State’ filming was done in nearby Buffalo, Minnesota.
Police knew who David Crowley was, because David had contacted them years prior to alert them that he was producing a movie project called “Gray State” (not “A Gray State) that depicts a terrifying futuristic time in America in which citizens are under the brutal control by militarized police, a surveillance state and the use of DHS FEMA camps. Crowley informed police that actors may be running around and had even invited them to participate in filming.
To clarify, David’s movie, “Gray State,” was never made into a movie. He produced three movie trailers and (supposedly) a movie script. The subject matter was said to be titillating for libertarian-minded government-conspiracy theorists.
Within mere hours of discovering the bodies, police declared that David had murdered his wife and little girl execution style by shooting them in the head, then committed suicide in a similar fashion sometime between Dec. 19, 2104, and New Year’s Eve.
Nearly simultaneous with the announcement of their “suspicious” death, the media was enforcing a murder-suicide narrative by painting a picture of David as a troubled Middle East war veteran and struggling filmmaker working on a government-conspiracy movie.
Within four days of discovering the bodies, film director Erik Nelson was in direct contact with David’s friends and family about doing a documentary.
In a film festival interview in September 2017, Nelson described the film as a story about “a deceased madman, crafted posthumously in many ways by the deceased madman himself” and “a core sample of American crazy.”
The big challenge, Nelson said, was in gaining the trust of the family while “maintaining complete control” in order to “tell the story the way the story demanded to be told.”
In Nelson’s view, the story of David Crowley is a “spiraling decent into madness of an Alt-Right filmmaker,” and getting his family to go along with this narrative was a “tricky negotiation.”
Nonetheless, Crowley’s family provided Nelson with access to all 25 terabytes of David’s film footage, his personal video journals and everything on his laptop, including 13,000 stills and home movies.
The Crowley “spiraling into madness” journal begun in April, 2014, is quoted from in media, but is not available for public scrutiny and analysis.
Through Nelson, the fix was in from the get go. He scripted the story before the “documentary” was even made. Rather than produce an observational or investigative film — perhaps in the style of “The Jinx,” for example — about the suspicious death of the Crowleys, Nelson rendered a smear job and a warning to those peering into rabbit holes.
“People would say, ‘Well why are you making this movie?’ I said, ‘Really it’s a cautionary tale.'” — Erik Nelson
I’m not going to rehash Nelson’s documentary on these pages other than to say that it’s collection of clips from David’s home movies and his film project, coupled with brief takes from Nelson’s interviews with some of the people in David’s social circle.
His father is interviewed in the film — but he literally reads from a script.
David’s brother, Dan, says flat out in the interview that it “was like a script.”
And, in a not-so-subtle manner, Nelson draws parallels between David Crowley and the character Jack Torrance in “The Shining.”
You can find Nelson’s “A Gray State” on Netflix and Amazon.
Sometimes what’s omitted from a story is just as — if not more — revealing than what’s provided.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of what the documentary left out. It’s just some observable and glaring omissions that, in our view, are worth mentioning or — depending on your world view — are so damning that they unravel the narratives surrounding the case entirely.
Missing Context of Current Events
From the time the film project started in 2010 through the end of 2014, a major public “awakening” occurred in the U.S. that would have tied directly to themes in “Gray State.” We believe David could have generated massive support for his project.
There were the Snowden revelations of massive government spying apparatus in 2013, followed by Ferguson protests in August 2014, which vividly illustrated the militarization of local police departments. New footage looked exactly like scenes from the “Gray State” trailer.
Yet, these events and their consequences to the project were never mentioned during the documentary. These current events would have made “Gray State” an incredibly poignant and timely film project.
Instead, Nelson’s documentary leads us to believe that David folded his tent right as the gift of the Ferguson riots went down and, along with his wife, embarked on some rare and inexplicable Hollywood-style REDRUM/”Sid & Nancy” downward spiral into madness.
The context of current events of that time period makes implausible the narrative of David as a “struggling” filmmaker who can’t get his project launched. It doesn’t add up in any way. He’s clearly talented, there was public interest (2.7 million views of the trailers on YouTube) in the project, and even crowd funding.
David was planning for the future and ready to release “The Rise” (below), a compilation of newsreel clips of current events. Would he give up after his first pitch of “Gray State” and right after Ferguson? We say hell no.
Missing Family History
Additionally, Nelson chose to leave out some bits of interesting family history. Here’s a quick-and-dirty rundown:
- David’s wife, Komel Alam-Crowley, was born on a U.S. Military Base in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Her father worked for the U.S. military. Her family, who is Pakistani, later moved to Pakistan. At age of 17, Komel moved with her family to Texas, where she eventually met David, who was stationed there.
- David’s father and mother, Kate Crowley, divorced in 2005. She’s not interviewed in Nelson’s documentary and is never even mentioned, though she mysteriously died just eight months after David. Sources allege that on Aug. 6, 2015, Kate visited the medical examiner’s office to see, in person, the examiner’s report on David, Komel and Rani. On Aug. 8, she couldn’t be reached by phone. On Aug. 9, 51-year-old Kate was found dead, sitting on a patio chair slumped over on the table on the deck of her Owatonna, Minn., home. “She was healthy, in good spirits and held two jobs. No reason was given for her untimely death,” sources claim.
- Kate’s brother (David’s uncle), Joe Bergeron, was a police officer in Mapplewood, Minn. On May 1, 2010, 49-year-old Bergeron was shot and killed while attempting to question two men in connection with an earlier carjacking incident.
Crime Scene Anomalies, Lies and Contradictions
On Jan. 17, 2015, a neighbor of the Crowleys noticed Christmas presents scattered outside the front door of the couple’s home, though weeks had passed since the holidays.
The neighbor said he had assumed the couple out of town. But, after considerable time had passed, he decided to scoop the gifts into a pile and knock on the door. There was no answer, but the Crowleys’ dog looked out the window, which he thought was odd. So the neighbor looked through the window.
What he saw inside he had thought at first were dummies, he told police, but he soon realized he was looking at the decomposing bodies of the Crowley family. Komel’s head was missing and one of her hands, and she appeared to be cradling her daughter, the neighbor said. And there was a gun on the floor near David’s body.
Police arrived to find the family dead and a thin and “very angry dog.” They found the back sliding door of the home open slightly, according to police. They lured the dog, named “Paleo,” into a police vehicle, then entered the home.
Once inside, police photographed the scene, documented evidence, gathered all of the electronics, bagged and removed the bodies, and contacted the families and the media.
The crime investigation report is replete with contradictions and strange dates, and it sets a scene that makes no sense. Considerable attention is given to the ins and outs of David’s life, his state of mind and his film project — but there’s little examination of the crime scene.
The autopsy report was not issued until March 24, 2015.
Going through the more than 400 crime scene photos provided by the police to the public, we are struck by the a lack of blood platter and no evident blood pooling. There is a footprint on the floor that is said to be blood, a small amount of blood splatter in the entry, the macabre words “ALLAHU AKBAR” scrawled on the wall in Komel’s blood.
There was also a blood-stained Quran with pages from the middle torn out and a note pad with the words “submit to Allah NOW” written on it.
There are no visible bodies, only body bags. For those who buy the nonsense that this is done to “protect the deceased and the delicate sensibilities of the public,” consider that crime scene photos are there to prove a crime was committed and sometimes help to solve crimes. They can confirm or refute police theories. Police shouldn’t monopolize them, especially in closed cases. Witnesses or other observers can put fresh eyes on the scene. That is why they are made available to the public.
Page 44 for the Incident Report states: “We also found a great deal of blood and hair debris in the kitchen, living room and hallway area.” But this is not even remotely consistent with the photographic evidence. The photo above shows dark stains on the carpet, well away from the body. Perhaps it’s the area where Paleo ate the heads and hands of his family, as police speculated.
Complete and high quality photo sets serve as checks and balances. Without them, any story or narrative can be concocted. There are those who suspect an assassination in this case. We suspect something else, but all theories need to be evaluated. Photos of bodies offer a layer of protection for all of us.
Below is the best photo of the positioning of the bodies and any blood evidence — but even this shows the scene after it has been tampered with by police, who bagged and positioned the bodies.
Page 4 of the incident report states with some precision that “between the two adult bodies, was the body of a small child.” But this observation is not evident from the crime scene photo.
On page 14, the officer describes the scene: “In the living room I noticed there were three bodies obviously deceased laying in close proximity on the living room floor.
On page 22, another officer states, “The head of the child was laying between the legs of the adult female body with her head pointing west.
None of these report statements combine with crime scene photos.
At several points in the report, reference is made to a weapon near David’s body. Police didn’t capture (or didn’t release) this image either.
It is noted in the report that the gun was found to the left of David’s body. It doesn’t mention that David was right-handed.
Among all the photographs provided to the public, this is the only one provided that depicts blood or splatter.
There is a bizarre narrative about Paleo. But before diving in to that, consider for a moment that (page 4 ) the rear sliding patio door was found open a quarter of an inch when police arrived at the Crowley house. The report says it was not secured by a bar lock. And yet, their mixed beagle — a breed bred for rooting and digging — couldn’t pry that door open and get out? Really?
Why would the door be cracked to begin with? The alleged murder-suicide was estimated to have occurred in late December, most likely on the 30th or 31st given the date on a Christmas card letter that was found in the house.
From page 44 of the report: “One individual piece of mail that was located was a hand-addressed letter to Mr. and Mrs. David Crowley and family at this address. The letter was post marked on 12/29/14 in St. Paul and had a return address at Crowley White Bear Lake MN 55110. This letter was opened and we found a Christmas card in the envelope. The card was from David Crowley’s grandfather.”
On page 50, it states that David’s brother, Dan Crowley, claims he dropped off Christmas presents and packages at the Crowley residence on December 28. Media reports are not consistent with the police report and say the drop off was the 26th. Either date, the people inside were opening mail from a letter postmarked Dec. 29, but they hadn’t picked up the presents on the stoop?
The weather history of Minneapolis from Dec. 29 to 31 shows sub-zero temperatures combined with winds in the 10 to 15 mph range. The thermostat was set on 68, but it wouldn’t take too long to create cold, uncomfortable drafts from an open sliding door.
On page 45 of the report, we learn that Rani was wearing sweatpants and a short sleeve, or sleeveless, shirt. David was found barefoot. Komel was wearing heavy socks, pants, a corset and shirt (not a sweater).
Similar weather prevailed until Jan. 17, when the bodies were finally discovered.
Two unnamed neighbors on Lowell Drive told AVPD Det. Michael Tietz and Det. Sean McKnight that the Crowley home “had been dark since Christmas.”
Question: Why would it be dark? The family was active inside right up to the bitter end on the 30th or 31st. And afterward, did the last person standing turn off the lights?
Officer Broughten reported, “The dining room light was on when police entered the house. Additionally, the Christmas tree lights and other strings were on.”
Remember, Collins looked in the front window when he spotted the family, meaning no were blinds pulled.
Another unnamed female neighbor also “hadn’t seen anyone at the house since the weekend before Christmas school break,” which started Dec. 19.
On page 56, neighbor Alan Olson says he heard gunshots, but can’t remember if it was around Christmas or New Year’s. Olson said he leaned toward it happening sometime before New Year’s Eve. A 40-caliber discharge would be quite loud.
Another neighbor, Theresa Shepherd, said that she had been out of town until Dec. 23. Upon returning home, she found that there were no lights on at the Crowley residence. At “one point,” she noticed that the rear sliding patio door was standing partially open.
We are told the dog subsisted for weeks by drinking all the water in the downstairs toilet where the lid was up.
We are also asked to believe that the dog feasted on the Crowleys’ bodies — and not just any part of the bodies. The skull, the head and the hands — all of which are key to identifying deceased persons.
The report states that a “majority” of Komel’s head was “missing.”
Det. Booth reported seeing a “small portion of David’s rear skull still attached to the spinal column, but a large portion of the head was missing.”
Even assuming a family pet would devour its owners, is a dog really able to digest bone and skull when there are lots of softer, fleshier parts to devour? Really? And where’s the Crowleys’ teeth? Did the dog eat those, too? After a week of serious decomposition, it’s highly unlikely there was anything for the dog to eat.
Next, we have the photo below that’s a real money shot. This picture was withheld from the batch that police released to the public, but it was discovered in a file among police report documents.
Note in the lower left corner of the photo there are two bags of dog food. If you click here and zoom in, you can even see the dog on the packaging and the label that says Iams pet food brand. And it appears the bag on the left is even conveniently open, giving Paleo easy access to food and thus completely eliminating the emergency need of having to cannibalize its decomposing family.
Also notice how undisturbed other items are in the kitchen. There’s hardly any feces by the sliding door, no blood, no bones, nothing knocked off the table or counters by the dog. Does this all seem likely to you?
My well-fed dog would have chowed down on the bagged food and let himself out the sliding door, if I left him there for just a few hours. Paleo was supposedly alone for weeks. This makes zero sense.
Fingerprints from the gun magazine were reportedly submitted to the Midwest Automated Fingerprint Identification Network (MAFIN), which did not generate any matches. Comparison to David Crowley was inconclusive due to the “limited quality of the latent print.”
The BCA “did not have a comparable known palm print for David Crowley.” Yet, he was in the military and in a combat zone. As such, a complete hand, finger and palm print would be available, if requested.
Police did not discover the bullet that killed David until Feb. 18. There was a bullet-hole in the living room ceiling. The crime scene photo shows no blood or splatter associated with that bullet.
In addition, at 1 p.m. on Jan. 20, 2015, Det. Sean McKnight received a phone call from the company responsible for cleaning up the Crowley house. The unnamed cleaners told 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.”
The blood on the paper in the office (page 23) is curious. How would blood end up there?
Also located on the kitchen island was an iPhone with blood on it (page 46). How?
Page 46 states: “When the crime scene team attempted to swab the keyboard for a DNA sample, the computer woke up out of a sleep mode to show a message in a Text Edit window reading, ‘I have loved you all with all of my heart.'” Nice touch, but what are the odds?
We can reach one conclusion about the death of the Crowleys: The scene looked scripted, as does much of the narrative. Deviations mainly revolve (and devolve) around “who dunnit” and why.
Here, in no particular order, are some quick examples of circulated theories that run counter the official depression+guns=murder/suicide narratives about the fate of the “conspiracy theorist” Crowleys.
- Murdered by police, who were under pressure and even violent attack following the August 2014 events in Ferguson.
- Murdered by a deep state federal agency — such as COINTELPRO, DHS/FEMA or the CIA — that wanted to keep the public in the dark and quash the movie, which David described as a “road map for a second American Revolution.”
- Murdered by a non-government organization — such as Freemason, Illuminati, globalist bankers, Crime Syndicate or military government contractors — to stop a movie that would expose criminality.
- Murdered by someone close to them, like friends and/or family members, for reasons not evident to those outside that circle.
- David was “radicalized online by ISIL” and killed himself and his family.
- Family was murdered by an angry “Alt-Right”-type extremist, who believed David was a faux truther/faux patriot/closet Muslim, etc.
- Crowley family was gang-stalked and MK-Utra’ed, using “Voice of God” technology. This would coincide with the disembodied voices Komel said she was hearing, her sudden emotional outbursts and the prescient things both she and her daughter were saying.
- A supernatural haunting and/or demonic possession of the family.
- Crowleys had a simple pact to go out in blaze of glory, “Sid & Nancy” style, if they weren’t rich and famous in five years.
- David deviously planned all along to kill himself and his family as some sort of secret, Shakespearean, Act V plot twist in a grotesque play that morphs from fiction to reality.
Though strong, sound arguments can be made for some of these theories, the folks here at Winter Watch have some alternative points of view to lend.
When David was just out of the military, his knowledge about government ops was edgy, unique. He had an excellent movie concept, production skills, marketing ability and was a good salesman. He created a stellar marketing vehicle for a movie/script that didn’t exist.
As real-life deep-state events unfolded — like Ferguson and Snowden — public knowledge of the police state grew, anger mounted. David, who was once ahead of the curve in his knowledge about the deep state, kept finding himself falling behind and having to rewrite/update his script.
Meanwhile, “Gray State” crowdfunding flowed and pressure mounted on David to deliver. But, no matter how hard he tried or how many friends helped him with it, he didn’t have the ability to translate the concept into a story/script. He could talk the talk, but he couldn’t walk the walk. He felt painted into a corner. A suicide, if there was one, was much more about personal failure, than dark troubling subjects.
Filled with self-doubt and fearing that he would be exposed as a fraud, he revealed the truth to his wife and proposed a new “Romeo & Juliet”/”Sid & Nancy” ending to the story. They would die heroes — martyrs to the cause of freedom, victims of “Islamic terror” — rather than live out their lives as faux truthers and film industry frauds. (They were probably too young and naive to realize that the Internet is a swamp of faux truthers and just about everything related to the film industry involves some sort of fraud.)
And yet, I cannot fathom that this beautiful, intelligent couple would kill their own sweet little girl. So I suspect they were murdered.
Russ Winter’s Conclusion
A hit is quite possible, but I lean more toward this being a COINTELPRO-staged deception (a fake suicide-murder) designed to tarnish conspiracy theorists as mental cases. Primarily, this is because Crowley appeared to have folded his tent and quit his work — eliminating the urgency to eliminate him. And would the Crime Syndicate kill a 5-year-old child in those circumstances? I doubt it and imagine there would be too many players involved who would not be on board with that.
In the Nelson documentary, the family and friends seemed too scripted. This could have been created via editing by the filmmaker or as a direct aspect of the COINTELPRO operation.
The prospect that the family was driven to madness by electronic gang stalking is possible and does happen. His journals might provide clues but, par for the course, a complete version is not available. These quotes, however, were provided by the controllers: “I’m expecting to wake up somebody else”; “vast personality changes are happening too fast to write about every day”; and “I am being prepped for some slide into oblivion or destiny.”
At the end of July, David suffered a psychic crisis that involved a “deep understanding stretching my mind past what my body can tolerate.” He went on to write that he had undergone “a 20-minute physical episode of visions of pure deep horror, long insight, stretching unbroken like a panorama.”
Winter Watch Takeaway
One of the biggest missing pieces of the Crowley puzzle is the movie script. Does it actually exist? Has anyone ever actually read it — not just the executive cheat sheet or the first 20 pages but the whole thing from beginning to end? How many pages is it?
David created an elaborate template-like visual display of Joseph Campbell’s journey of the hero and described it as though he was teaching a mythology class — but he never actually elaborated on how it applied to his story.
Danny Mason and the father Dan, Sr., own the rights to the concept and — while Dan, Sr., is uncertain what outcome he prefers — Danny Mason apparently still hopes to make “Gray State.”
Whether you lean toward Torchy’s view, Russ’ view, or some other theory about the death of the Crowleys, it doesn’t really matter. What you believe is largely a part of who you are, the sum of your world view and experiences.
What matters right now, among the living, is that we keep our minds open, our ears to the ground, think critically and keep asking questions. Expand your attention span to examine anomalies. The controllers who wrote the Crowley script obviously want you to do the opposite.
There is also too much opinion vocalizing from those who put in no effort or work into research, examination or carefully reading articles such as this one. We should unite in the effort to seek truth and report it, and respect those with common goals, even if or when we don’t share the exact same opinions.