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Who killed Bob Crane? Examine the evidence for one of Hollywood's most baffling unsolved crimes from the 70s.

Who killed ‘Hogan’s Heroes’ actor Bob Crane? Inside the heinous crime

Hollywood has some wild stories in terms of true crime. For many of these cases, the most famous ones are those that have remained unsolved. Thelma Todd, William Desmond Taylor, the Black Dahlia, Natalie Wood, we can keep going on this front, but we won’t. One of the darker unsolved murders is that of Hogan’s Heroes star, Bob Crane. So who killed Bob Crane?

Well, obviously, we don’t know. The case, officially, has remained unsolved since 1978. But has it? Someone was tried & acquitted of the crime. Did they get away with murder? Or could whoever have killed Bob Crane still be out there? Let’s dive into the fascinating case that will shock & disturb you.

Bob Crane: A brief history

Before we get into the theories of who killed Bob Crane, let’s dive into who Bob Crane is. Younger generations probably would only recognize the name if they were into the world of true crime. But, for a decent number of years, Crane was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood on one of the most popular sitcoms out there, Hogan’s Heroes, which followed a group of Allied POWs running sabotage missions under Nazis noses.

Yes, we swear, this was a comedy series. As the star of the show, Bob Crane had the potential to go big. In fact, many people expected him to have a big career. Unfortunately, however, Crane’s porn addiction led to his fall from grace in Hollywood following the cancellation of Hogan’s Heroes in 1971. Crane took pride in his porn collection and showed it off, even dabbling in amateur pornography.

Helping Crane delve into this side of himself was a man named John Henry Carpenter, a regional sales manager for Sony later Akai. Carpenter rode Crane’s coattails, meeting women drawn to the famous actor and helping him film the encounters. According to Crane’s son, Robert Crane who wrote a book on the case, he believed that his father had the consent of women involved in his amateur porn. 

We should note that one woman said she was unaware of being filmed by Bob Crane after his death. 

The murder of Bob Crane

Now that we have an idea about who Bob Crane was, let’s dive into how he was killed. Following the nosedive that his career took, Bob Crane was largely relegated to dinner theater & guest spots on television series. There was an attempt at a television starring role with The Bob Crane Show, but that went up in smoke after 13 episodes of the series. At the time of his death, he was doing dinner theater in Scottsdale, Arizona.

On June 29, 1978, he missed a lunch meeting for the show that he was in, Beginner’s Luck. His co-star, Victoria Ann Berry, went to Crane’s house to check on him. That’s when his body was discovered. Crane had been bludgeoned to death and found with an electrical cord tied around his neck. The damage to his face had been so bad that only one side could be identified.

At the time of his death, Crane’s son Robert said that his dad was planning on making some big changes in his life. Bob Crane was two weeks away from turning 50. He had plans on divorcing his second wife, Hogan’s Heroes co-star Patricia Olson, and cutting bad influences like Carpenter out. Carpenter was a prime suspect in the case.

Who killed Bob Crane?

For a lot of people involved in the case, they believed that the killer had gotten away with murder. John Henry Carpenter was the prime suspect. At the time of Bob Crane’s murder, the pair were seen arguing, and Type B blood was found in Carpenter’s rental car, the same blood type as Bob Crane. In 1992, a detective found what looked like to be brain tissue in a picture of Carpenter’s car.

The physical evidence, of course, was long gone. But the photo was enough to get Carpenter arrested & brought to trial. Not only that, there was issues in trying a cold case. There was an inconclusive DNA test on the blood, witnesses remembered Carpenter and Crane having a friendly dinner that night, and the murder weapon still has never been found. 

The defense team was more than happy to trot out Crane’s sexual predilections for the jury and suggested that an angry lover, husband, or boyfriend could have attacked Crane. It was enough reasonable doubt to get Carpenter acquitted for the murder. But many suspect that he had a hand in it in some fashion. Crane’s son Robert believes that his stepmother Patricia Olson was involved. 

Who killed Bob Crane? Do you think that Carpenter got away with murder? Share your thoughts in the comments down below! 

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Comments
  • Why wasn’t the DNA tested when that type of forensics became available?

    July 9, 2021

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