Old Time Crime: Hollywood star brutally murdered in Scottsdale apartment in 1978

Posted at 8:49 AM, Jun 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-26 14:45:13-04

Sex, lies and videotape: The sordid side of actor Bob Crane catches up with him as he is murdered in a Scottsdale condominium. 

The Man:

Robert Crane was born on July 13, 1928 in Waterbury, Connecticut. He broke into show business using his voice on CBS radio station KNX in Los Angeles. He was very successful there and was able to get Hollywood stars to appear on his show. Marilyn Monroe, Bob Hope and future President Ronald Reagan were just a few of the regular guests on Crane's radio show.

CBS sought to capitalize on Crane's good looks and quick wit by moving him to television. They had him appear as a guest star on some CBS comedy shows. In 1965, Crane was offered the lead role as Col. Robert Hogan in the hit comedy series "Hogan's Heroes." The show was about an allied prisoner in a German war camp. Crane was nominated for two Emmy awards for his portrayal of Hogan.

Crane was considered a devoted family man; he had four children and was married twice. He was first married at 19 years of age and had two children with Ann Terzian and later married his "Hogan's Heroes" co-star Patricia Olson and raised two children with her. 

Crane had two insatiable passions: Videography and sex

In addition to his family, Crane had two insatiable passions: Videography and sex. Crane managed to combine the two passions in producing and acting in pornographic videos.Crane had no problem finding willing female participants, using his good looks, wit and charm to get women back to his Scottsdale condo where his sexual exploits could be documented on video. 


After his death, detectives went through his video collection which they called "extensive."

The Crime:

June 29, 1978 Bob Crane was found bludgeoned to death in his Scottsdale condominium at the Windfield Place Apartments near Scottsdale and Camelback roads.

Crane was performing in the play "Beginner's Luck" which was playing at the Windmill Dinner Theater. A co-star was scheduled to have lunch with him that day and when he didn't show, she went to his condo to check on him. She found his bloodied body dead on the bed. Crane was bludgeoned to death with a camera tripod.

The Investigation:

Scottsdale police focused their investigation on John Carpenter. Carpenter was a video supply salesman and a close friend of Crane. Crane and Carpenter would pick up woman to have sex with in the condo and Carpenter would provide Crane with video equipment.

The DNA test of the sample came back as inconclusive

However, with no witnesses and no DNA testing at the time, there was no way for the county attorney to move the case forward. In 1990, the case was picked up again when a detective noticed a photo that appeared to show some brain tissue in the rental car of John Carpenter. The DNA test of the sample came back as inconclusive.

During the trial, Crane's son testified that Crane broke off his friendship with Carpenter the night before the murder.

Carpenter's attorneys portrayed the evidence as circumstantial at best. Showing Crane and Carpenter as the best of friends, having dinner together the night before the murder. They were able to provide the jury with many possible alternatives to John Carpenter as the murderer, from ex-lovers to husbands and boyfriends of ex-lovers.

In the end, Carpenter was acquitted of the crime, maintaining his innocence until his death in 1998. 

Officially, the Scottsdale Police Department considers the murder of Bob Crane a closed case.

Information from ABC15 archives, Scottsdale PD police reports and Bob