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Police Report: Suicide Victim Was Fascinated with Skinwalker Ranch

By Jack Brewer and Erica Lukes


If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You can also call the network at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit 

SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.


Uintah County Sheriff's Office records obtained by Expanding Frontiers Research state the body of a deceased individual recovered earlier this year in the vicinity of Skinwalker Ranch died by suicide. The remains of Andrew Barton Crowe were discovered in a rural wooded area during a search conducted by rescue personnel on February 29. The decomposing body was located about 40 yards from where Crowe's motorcycle was first seen abandoned on the roadside the evening of November 23, 2023. It was Thanksgiving.


A witness statement provided to the Bureau of Indian Affairs indicates a person who saw the bike Thanksgiving night decided to take a closer look when it was still there the morning of November 24. They then called police after finding written material leading them to become concerned the rider left to commit suicide. It is not entirely clear why three months passed between the time law enforcement was made aware of the circumstances and a coordinated search of the area was conducted for the motorcycle owner.


Image from records obtained from UCSO

Andrew Crowe was formerly of California and was 61 years old. Records obtained suggest he parked his trouble-prone Harley Davidson on the side of the remote road before walking away, a .38 Special in his possession. Police believe he used the gun to end his life. The revolver was found at the feet of the deceased, five rounds of ammunition - one of them spent - still in the cylinder.


The existence of a suicide note, the contents of which have not been released as of this writing, is documented. The note was wrapped in a plastic bag and seemed to be left for whoever found the body, the report states.


A responding officer surmised suicide was the cause of death, adding that no evidence of foul play was found at the scene. Reference is made in the officer's report to the medical examiner for final judgment and further details of the death. It was further stated that a medical examiner's report had not yet been provided to the Uintah County Sheriff's Office as of June 13.



Skinwalker Ranch Connection


A manila envelope addressed to Thomas Winterton was found on Andrew Crowe's motorcycle. Winterton is a cast member of The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch cable television show which promotes speculation about paranormal phenomena while purporting to be conducting scientific investigation. He is also an organizer of PhenomeCon, an annual event underwritten by Uintah County which directs the attention of the public to such topics as Skinwalker Ranch, UFOs and Bigfoot.


The envelope addressed to Winterton contained a series of handwritten pages, one of which, an officer documented, provided a phone number, yet stated the number was only good until midday November 24. The officer wrote further, “The first of the pages states that the bike was being turned over to Mr. Winterton.” Police interpreted Andrew Crowe wanted Winterton to have his Harley.


Six pages apparently intended for Winterton, images of which are provided below, contain such references as dangerous energy sources believed to be on the property; planetary portals; exotic craft; Robert Bigelow; and a UFO investigation group known as UAPx, a member of which was portrayed as mysteriously falling ill during a visit to the ranch as televised on an episode of The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch. The pages could be interpreted as an effort by Crowe to inform Winterton of the inherent otherworldly dangers of the ranch and the perceived solutions.





Thomas Winterton


Winterton is among those who financially benefit most from their involvement in PhenomeCon. Uintah County records obtained by Expanding Frontiers Research indicate he was issued over $5,800 for the three-day conference in 2023. He is a speaker at the event and is featured in what are termed “add-on” activities. Those are events such as “behind the scenes” meals and guided tours to the perimeter of Skinwalker Ranch. Attendees pay extra to participate in each add-on they select while PhenomeCon personalities like Winterton receive up to 50 percent of the additional revenue generated. This is on top of speaker fees paid to the “talents,” as the speakers and add-on hosts are termed in Uintah County PhenomeCon contracts.


It is not clear how well members of the Uintah County Commission understand what is happening at PhenomeCon, which it approved for $215,000 in the 2023 annual county budget. During a Commission Work Session held May 13, 2024, Travel and Tourism Director Lesha Coltharp advised commissioners that terms and conditions of PhenomeCon contracts must be open to the public (The circumstances arose out of a series of records requests and appeals executed by Expanding Frontiers Research). Commissioners subsequently asked Coltharp about who must pay to get into PhenomeCon and if the reason the participants were referred to as “talents” in the contracts was because it was a talent show.


"Yeah, no, no, no," Coltharp responded. “It's just a speaker contract. They're basically called 'talents' because – of the speakers that come in – most of them are actors on different paranormal... shows?" Briefly pausing, Coltharp added, "They're talented."


Andrew Crowe


In late February, before discovering the body but long after impounding the abandoned Harley and its contents, the Uintah County Sheriff's Office documented its efforts to contact relatives and acquaintances of Crowe. All of them resided out of state and said they had not seen him in six months or more. One individual explained they received a telephone call from Crowe on November 22. Andrew was calling from Park City, Utah, and said he had just come from Uintah County where he was trying to see Skinwalker Ranch. The report documented that the individual described Andrew as fascinated with the ranch.


A detective collected statements and observed evidence from the bike that formed a profile of a depressed recovering drug addict and alcoholic who was taking pain medication for hip and knee problems. A contact of Andrew's told the detective they suspected Andrew may have committed suicide due to statements he made about being done with life; the motorcycle being abandoned a few miles from Skinwalker Ranch; an empty handgun case left with the motorcycle; and the signed vehicle title located with the motorcycle along with the note about wanting the bike to be given to Thomas Winterton. The detective documented telling the contact, based on all of these facts, they believed Andrew's body may be somewhere near the ranch, to which the contact agreed.


Sheriff's Office Investigation


The incident report for the discovery of the abandoned motorcycle states multiple attempts were made to reach Thomas Winterton but phone calls were not returned. This was presumably in 2023 and due to the manila envelope and letter to Winterton found on the bike.


“I learned that [Thomas Winterton] could possibly be associated with the Skinwalker Ranch which was near the area where the bike was located,” the report continued. “I drove up to the front gate of the property in hopes to make contact with the property's security team and found there was no one available to speak to and the guard shack was empty.”


Evidence collected from the motorcycle

Three months later, on February 29, according to the incident report concerning the retrieval of the body, officers coordinated a search with the Uintah County Sheriff's Office, Bureau of Indian Affairs and two search and rescue teams. It was determined likely that Andrew could be found near the location where the motorcycle was abandoned or he possibly walked to the Skinwalker Ranch property.


Winterton was successfully contacted at this point and stated he did not know Andrew Crowe. According to the report, a Detective Leishman asked Thomas if they could search the Skinwalker Ranch property for Andrew's body, “to which he informed us that we could on 3/1/24 as they had a film crew doing work at the ranch currently.”


Officers proceeded with searching the surrounding area. Within about 20 minutes of commencing, one of the search and rescue personnel located a body 40 yards from where the motorcycle was found. The scene was described in writing and photographed. Though decomposition made an initial identification difficult, a wallet was present that contained a driver's license and debit cards belonging to Andrew. Officers were satisfied with an assessment of the scene and circumstances, pending a final autopsy report by the medical examiner.


Reasonable Skepticism


Philosophies grounded in the benefits of critical thinking typically suggest that not much good comes out of overindulging the fantastic. Mislabeling entertainment as science and subscribing to wild speculation as fact often carry consequences, sometimes tragic.


The Skinwalker Ranch legend is used by an entire subculture of entertainers, writers and filmmakers to create content. In addition to television shows and county-sponsored conferences, the unverified rumors are echoed and embellished through countless books and blogposts. Likewise, hosts of YouTube channels regularly pump out an endless assortment of videos purporting to be hot on the trail of some ever-elusive mystery. The related debate about social responsibility was going on long before the recovery of a body near Skinwalker Ranch and the content creators will continue clamoring for clicks and views with little to no pause. As a matter of fact, the Andrew Crowe case was framed by at least one dubious video creator as suggestive of alleged paranormal phenomena, presumably in an attempt to perpetuate mystery and drive site traffic, before his name was even known.


Also noteworthy in this chain of events is that the Expanding Frontiers Research request to the Uintah County Sheriff's Office was denied for records responsive to the abandoned motorcycle and the deceased individual. An appeal was virtually ignored. It was not until an appeal was submitted to the Utah State Records Committee and two mediation meetings were conducted that records began to be released. The first release was issued 111 days after the request for records was submitted and would never have happened at all if the previous denials were accepted without question.


Two emails containing responsive records have now been received from the Uintah County Attorney's Office. Each of the emails advised, “We would like to acknowledge that there are still more records being reviewed in both cases that we will be providing as we receive and review them.”

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What is worrying me is that Andrew Crowe's tragic death will be spun and manipulated by someone to create a new "docu-series" based on cherry picked excerpts of his notes and distorted facts. They will omit any mention of painkillers or alcohol. He will be reframed as a capital 'R' "Researcher." Of course, the usual tropes will be recycled while being conflated with his notes. There is not a rung on the ladder that leads into this paranormal sewer that touches bottom. I can hear it now "What did he see that night that drove him to madness?" (While a picture of ghoulish demon like figure made by some random artist is flashed on the screen) "Will we ever know?"

J'aime
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