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1970s / Murder of Bob Crane - 1978
Bob Crane will forever be remembered by TV fans as the actor who played Colonel Robert Hogan in the sitcom Hogan's Heroes from 1965 to 1971. Crane was an amateur photographer. During the run of the show, co-star Richard Dawson introduced Crane to John Henry Carpenter, who worked with the video department at Sony Electronics and had access to early videotape recorders. Crane, a notorious womanizer, arranged for Carpenter to secretly and frequently photograph Crane's plentiful sexual escapades using this new technology. In 1978, Crane was appearing in Scottsdale, AZ in the play Beginner's Luck at the Windmill Dinner Theatre. On the night of June 28, Crane allegedly phoned Carpenter to tell him that their friendship was over. The following day, Crane was discovered bludgeoned to death in bed at the Winfield Place Apartments in Scottsdale. The murder weapon was never found--but police believed it to be a camera tripod. Crane was two weeks shy of his 50th birthday. Crane likely knew his assailant and was comfortable with him/her being in the room: He was known as a light sleeper and there were no signs of struggle. A bottle of scotch whiskey was found in Crane's room. Crane did not drink scotch. According to the program Cold Case Files, police at the crime scene noted that Carpenter called the apartment several times and did not seem surprised that the police were there. The car Carpenter had rented the previous day was impounded. In it, several blood smears were found that matched Crane's blood type. DNA testing, which might have confirmed that it was Crane's blood, did not exist yet. Due to insufficient evidence, Maricopa County Attorney Charles F. Hyder declined to file charges. The case was reopened in 1990, 12 years after the murder. A 1978 attempt to test the blood found in the car that Carpenter had rented resulted in a match to Bob Crane's blood type, but it failed to produce any additional results. DNA testing in 1990 could not be completed due to an insufficient remaining sample. Detectives Barry Vassall and Jim Raines instead hoped that additional witnesses and a picture of a possible piece of brain tissue found in the rental car (which had been lost since the original investigation) would incriminate Carpenter. He was arrested and held for trial after a preliminary hearing before a Superior Court judge who ruled that evidence justified a trial by jury. During Carpenter's 1994 trial, defense attorneys attacked the prosecution's case as circumstantial and inconclusive. They denied that Carpenter and Crane were on bad terms; they further said the theory that a camera tripod was the murder weapon was sheer speculation based on Carpenter's occupation. They also disputed the claim that the rediscovered photo showed brain tissue, and they noted that authorities did not have any such tissue. The defense pointed out that Crane had been videotaped and photographed in compromising sexual positions with numerous women, implying that a jealous person or someone fearing blackmail might have been the killer. Carpenter was found not guilty. He maintained his innocence until his own death on September 4, 1998. Bob Crane's murder remains officially unsolved.