Murder Mystery In Scottsdale – The 1978 Murder Of Actor Bob Crane
In the summer of 1978 actor Bob Crane, who had starred in the popular 1960s TV series Hogan’s Heroes, was in Scottsdale for a four- week performance in Beginner’s Luck at the Windmill Dinner Theater. On June 29 a co-star found Crane’s body lying in the bed of his rented apartment. His skull had been crushed by a hard object, which investigators later determined to be a camera tripod. The murder had likely been committed while Crane slept.
Despite his reputation in family entertainment, Crane’s private life had a much darker side. He had a practice of recording on video his numerous trysts with the countless women who were drawn to his celebrity status. The main suspect in Crane’s death was John Carpenter, Crane’s friend and partner in this bizarre activity. Police theorized that Carpenter murdered Crane because Crane was cutting off their relationship, but County Attorney Charles Hyder’s office felt the evidence was not strong enough to go to trial. Neither did Tom Collins, who succeeded Hyder as County Attorney.
In 1994 the next elected County Attorney, Rick Romley, pursued the case from a new perspective. His team of investigators compiled enough evidence to arrest Carpenter, including a rediscovered photo of what appeared to be a speck of brain tissue on the inside of Carpenter’s rented car, but the jury in the subsequent trial believed the evidence was still too weak and circumstantial. They found Carpenter not guilty. Carpenter died in 1998, but the public at large would always wonder if he truly was the man who murdered actor Bob Crane on that dark night in Scottsdale some 16 years earlier.
In 2017, local Fox 10 journalist John Hook completed his own revisiting of the case. With County Attorney Bill Montgomery’s approval, Hook had the last of the blood evidence found in Carpenter’s rented car tested with today’s DNA methods. The result was that those blood traces were not Bob Crane’s.
And so the murky murder mystery continues. The murder weapon was never found, and Hook wonders if somewhere, anywhere, someone has a blood-stained camera tripod in their garage or closet that they happened to find long ago. Perhaps, but for now the murder of Bob Crane in Scottsdale remains one of Hollywood’s, and Arizona’s, most notorious unsolved murder mysteries.