Crane was the star of the popular 1960′s sitcom Hogan’s Heroes and had a short-lived eponymous series in 1975.
He faced waning success following the cancellation of Heroes in 1971, and unfortunately remains known mostly because of his gruesome, unresolved 1978 murder.
Crane, a photography enthusiast and reputed sex addict, had been friends with John Carpenter, a videographer at Sony, for several years. In later years, Carpenter photographed some of Crane’s sexual escapades with various women.
In 1978, the year that Crane was starring in and directing a play in Scottsdale, he allegedly called Carpenter to tell him that their friendship was over. The following day, Crane was discovered bludgeoned to death with a weapon that was never found (but was believed to be a camera tripod) in a Scottsdale apartment building.
DNA testing did not exist at the time, so the blood later found in Carpenter’s impounded car could not be identified. Other suspicious factors included the multiple phone calls Carpenter had made to the apartment and his seeming lack of surprise to find that the police were there that evening.
Due to insufficient evidence, Maricopa County Attorney Charles F. Hyder declined to file charges. The case was reopened in 1990 and Carpenter went on trial in 1994, where he was not found guilty. He maintained his innocence until his death on September 4, 1998, and the murder remains officially unsolved. However, authorities continue to believe that he was the killer, and no other serious suspect has ever been mentioned in the case.