The Gruesome Crime Scene Of Hogan's Heroes Star Bob Crane

The following article contains graphic descriptions of a violent murder.

When the series "Hogan's Heroes" debuted on CBS in 1965, it made actor Bob Crane an overnight star. Crane had a quick rise to fame, following a semi-regular role on "The Donna Reed Show" and guest appearances in "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour" and "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (per IMDb). "Hogan's Heroes" was the break that Crane needed to vault him to success. The series centered around the captives of a German POW camp during WWII, who are helping prisoners from other camps escape through a network of tunnels. It's all done, of course, without the knowledge of the inept and bumbling Nazi camp leadership.

The show ran for 168 episodes, concluding in 1971. From there, Crane secured roles in various films over the following years, along with guest spots on popular network TV shows. He also had his own series, "The Bob Crane Show," which ran for 14 episodes in 1975. 

It could be argued that the only item Crane is more known for than the series that made him famous is his unsolved murder. In the early summer of 1978, Crane was viciously attacked in a rented apartment in Scottsdale, Arizona. Despite there being a motive and lots of forensic evidence, the murder of one of the sitcom world's greatest stars has never been officially solved.

Blood from the crime scene soaked Crane's bedroom pillow

The apartment he was living in was a temporary home for Crane, as he needed to stay in Scottsdale to be close to the theater that hosted a play he was starring in, "Beginner's Luck." On the afternoon of June 29, 1978, Crane was absent from a lunch meeting with his theater co-star Victoria Ann Berry (per Film Daily). Concerned, Berry went to Crane's apartment (pictured) and discovered Crane's body amid a grisly crime scene. 

According to Entertainment Weekly, Crane was found in his bed. Crime scene photos online show the shirtless actor partially covered by a flowered bed sheet laying on the left side of the mattress. Crane had been bludgeoned to death and the gory remnants of the violent crime were evident all over the room. The two gashes on his head forced copious amounts of blood to spurt forth from the wounds, leaving the pillow his head lie on soaked with a pool of it. Blood was found all over the walls and the ceiling and even streaked across his possessions in the room. USA Today reports that some of Crane's blood was spattered all over his day planner, where the slain actor had previously scrawled his daughter's high school graduation date along with the contact information of women he allegedly had romantic entanglements with.

Investigators noted more than just Crane's fatal head wounds. Wrapped around his neck was an electrical cord. One thing seemed certain. Whoever killed Crane made it seem personal.

A suspect was acquitted

Investigators discovered that there were no signs of forced entry into Crane's apartment. This made them conclude that whoever killed the actor probably knew him. They also found what they assumed was Crane's blood in various other places around the apartment. Entertainment Weekly reports that Scottsdale detective Barry Vassall noted that "At the scene, there was blood everywhere. There were some traces of blood on the back of the exit door, the front door, the doorknob. There was a red stain on the curtain." He also pointed out that there was blood matching Crane's type in a rental car belonging to an acquaintance of Crane's named John Henry Carpenter. 

Crane had long since been taking illicit polaroids of the countless women he slept with. Carpenter, a video equipment salesman, became Crane's partner in making home-produced adult films with Crane and whatever women he could talk into being his co-star. But when Crane got to Scottsdale, some believe that he wanted to stop. Carpenter didn't take this lightly. 

Witnesses saw the two argue at a restaurant the night before Crane was found murdered. Carpenter was the prime suspect, but without DNA technology and no murder weapon, it was an uphill battle to get charges. In the early 1990s, the DA felt there was enough there to bring Carpenter to trial, but a jury ultimately acquitted him in 1994.

If Carpenter didn't kill him, who did? Someone who regretted being in one of Crane's films? The husband of one of his many "conquests?" It's an intriguing case that may never have a resolution.