On June 29, 1978, the body of Hogan’s Heroes star Bob Crane was discovered bloody and battered in his Scottsdale, AZ, apartment. While Crane was one of the most prominent television stars of the 1960s, he fell on hard times once the hit show ended, eventually performing in regional dinner theaters in order to pay the bills. His murder exposed his intensely sexual private life, which involved sleeping with hundreds of women and filming his exploits.
Crane wasn’t alone in his video fetish. After the actor met electronics guru John Henry Carpenter on the set of Hogan’s Heroes, the two formed a fast bond over their affinity for promiscuous lovemaking and state-of-the-art video technology. Following Crane’s untimely demise, the police focused heavily on Carpenter, who denied any involvement. Authorities were unable to officially solve the case before Carpenter passed in 1998.
Crane Showed His Home Movies To His Friend's Son
Mark Dawson, son of Hogan's Heroes cast member Richard Dawson, said Crane was so proud of his personal tapes that he even showed them to the young man when he was only 17 years old:
He was carting a couple of videotapes and a Polaroid book. He went into the other room and then called me in. "Hey, come on in... you want to take a look at this stuff?" The first 10 or 15 minutes, it was very interesting. Unnerving. I gotta tell you: It was a little shocking to see Colonel Hogan au naturel. Couldn't watch Hogan's the same way again after that.
Dawson went on to say Crane wasn't embarrassed about his tapes, but rather excited to show off his private life:
It was like wow, look at this one, look at that one. I don't know if "proud" is the right word but sort of, "Look what I got. She's a real winner, huh?" Some of them were, and some of them weren't. He was excited, he was happy about it. He was like a kid with a toy.
Crane Was Found Bludgeoned To Death
On June 29, 1978, Bob Crane was found bludgeoned to death in his Scottsdale apartment. He had an electrical cord wrapped around his neck, and although there was no apparent murder weapon at the scene, authorities believed he was clubbed in the head with a camera tripod.
Once police arrived, they discovered Crane's personal tapes, which immediately led them to suspect Crane's friend, John Carpenter.
Crane's Co-Star Discovered His Body
At the time of Crane's demise, he was starring in a traveling production of Beginner's Luck, a farcical look at marriage and infidelity in the mid-20th century. According to Crane's co-star, Victoria Berry, she and the former Hogan's Heroes star got along very well.
Berry even spent time with Crane's friend, Carpenter, during the show. The two often sat together during long stretches of the play while Berry was offstage. She claims that on June 28, the last night Crane was seen alive, the two men left the show together. Crane reminded her that they were supposed to get lunch the next day.
The following day, Berry stopped by Crane's apartment for their lunch appointment. When he didn't answer, she let herself in. When she eventually made her way into his bedroom, she discovered a grisly crime scene:
At first, I thought it was a girl with long, dark hair, because all the blood had turned real dark. I thought, "Oh, Bob's got a girl here. Now, where's Bob?"... I thought, "Well, she's done something to herself. Bob has gone to get help." At that time, I recognized blood... My first instincts were, I don't know why, but I thought it was John Carpenter. And the whole wall was covered from one end to the other with blood. And I just sort of stood there and I was numb. He was curled up in a fetus position, on his side, and he had a cord tied around his neck in a bow.
The Case's Only Suspect Remained Free For More Than A Decade
The Scottsdale police only ever suspected one person: Crane's close friend, John Carpenter. The two initially bonded over their love of audio and video equipment, but their interests soon turned to sex, and they eventually began filming many of their sexual encounters. After finding their black-and-white videos, police immediately zeroed in on the second man in the footage.
Years passed, however, before police actually charged Carpenter. He remained free for 16 years after the murder and wasn't officially charged until 1994. Although the police kept their eye on Carpenter for years, they never found any concrete evidence linking him to the crime, aside from specks of blood and DNA in his car. Due to the technological limitations of the era in which the crime was committed, the police were unable to properly test this evidence.