Today marks anniversary of Crane slaying - East Valley Tribune: News

Today marks anniversary of Crane slaying

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Posted: Sunday, June 29, 2003 8:35 am | Updated: 1:45 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

During the early morning hours 25 years ago today, someone crept into unit 132-A of the Winfield Scott Apartments in Scottsdale.

The intruder grabbed a heavy object, likely a camera tripod, and bludgeoned actor Bob Crane to death as he slept.

The killer never was convicted. The case thrust Scottsdale into the national spotlight.

The sordid life and death of the "Hogan’s Heroes" TV star have only become more infamous since that fateful day, June 29, 1978. Crane’s legendary sex, murder and videotape, in fact, have produced an entire cottage industry.

Last year the feature film "Auto Focus," starring Greg Kinnear and Willem Dafoe, detailed Crane’s swinging lifestyle and sudden death.

The crime-scene apartment, which has since been converted into a condominium, is up for sale on eBay. The sellers expect that its notoriety will drive up bids.

And Crane’s son, Scotty Crane, of Seattle, pays tribute to his father while simultaneously peddling Bob Crane’s extensive collection of homemade pornography on the Internet.

"I love that people are still interested in my dad for a variety of reasons," Scotty Crane states on the Web site. "It’s amazing to me how many people were and still are fans of my father."

As far as police are concerned, Bob Crane’s murder case is closed.

Police believe Crane’s friend John Carpenter killed him in a fit of rage in retaliation for kicking him out of his life.

Crane chummed around with Carpenter during the early ’70s. Carpenter once worked as a high-tech salesman and had access to the first generation of home video equipment.

Crane provided willing women and Carpenter provided the video gear and the two of them taped their joint sexcapades across the country.

By the summer of 1978, Crane found his way to Scottsdale for a production of "Beginner’s Luck," which played at the former Windmill Theater near Shea Boulevard and Scottsdale Road. Police theorized that around that time the 49-year-old actor grew tired of Carpenter and told him to get out of his life, which of course, cut off his access to star-struck women.

Police believe Carpenter entered the apartment complex, which is now called the Winfield Place Condominiums, at 7340 E. Chaparral Road, and crushed Crane’s head with just one or two blows. They believe he lashed an electrical cable around his neck for good measure.

The case remained open until 1990 when the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office began retracing the police investigation. Investigators eventually uncovered a small chunk of human tissue recovered from inside Carpenter’s rental car.

Prosecutors believed the red speck may have been a piece of Crane’s brain left behind when Carpenter set a bloody tripod inside the car.

The blood type was the same as Crane’s but it could not be proven that the blood was his.

Carpenter was indicted, tried and acquitted of firstdegree murder in 1994. He died in California in 1998 of a heart attack at age 70.

"We’re confident that (Carpenter) did that," police spokesman officer Scott Reed said. "There’s just not enough evidence for a conviction. We’re not working it as an open case at all."

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