Robert “Bob” Crane, born July 13, 1928, was a popular Hollywood actor known best for his title role on the hit TV show “Hogan’s Heroes.” After the show was cancelled, Crane eventually transitioned to theater and landed a part in the play “Beginner’s Luck” being performed in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was there, on June 29, 1978, that someone strangled him in his apartment with an electrical cord before beating him to death with a blunt object, believed to be a camera tripod.
Despite the already notable death of a beloved celebrity, the case fell under an even brighter national spotlight after it was revealed that Crane had carried on extremely sordid affairs in his personal life. He had slept with countless women, both before and after his marriage, and was proven to have often photographed and even videoed the lewd encounters. This meant it was highly possible that crane was murdered either by one of his many former lovers or by one of their enraged male relations. Such scandalous details ensured the case captivated the public’s attention and remained in the media.
However, it was not one of these women on whom the authorities came to focus their investigation. Crane’s longtime friend John Henry Carpenter became the primary suspect after trace amounts of blood were found in his rental car. However, the sample was inconclusive and so, with nothing else to incriminate Carpenter, he was not charged. In 1990, the case was reopened after an evidence photograph potentially showing human tissue in the rental car was rediscovered and further supported the Carpenter accusation. Carpenter was charged with first-degree murder and tried in 1994. However, there was no actual tissue sample and Carpenter was acquitted due to lack of evidence.
On November 14, 2016, after a local reporter still interested in the case was allowed to submit the blood sample for more advanced DNA analysis, the results revealed that neither of the two sequences identified in the sample could be matched to either Crane or Carpenter. The police’s most promising suspect was therefore even further exonerated and, with no further leads besides Crane’s hundreds of named and unnamed sexual affairs, the case remains unsolved.