Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Bob Crane Case

Bad Luck and Blood

They got to the Safari at about 1:00 a.m. According to Crane's date from earlier that evening, he was upset. "He spoke of the problems he was having with his wife and their pending divorce," she recalled. "He said his wife was extremely distraught, anxious over the breakup, and that she was overly jealous of him and even his relationship with their children."

Crane left the Safari with one woman and Carpenter headed back to his own motel with the other. In the lobby Crane paused to chat with a man he knew casually named Andrew Gellart. The latter had been an extra on Hogan's Heroes.

Carpenter took his date to his motel, made a pass, and struck out. He drove her home at about 2:30 a.m. He tried to do his friend a favor by getting her to promise she would wake Crane up sometime between 8 and 11 a.m. "If she doesn't want me," he reasoned, "maybe she'll want Bob."

The actor who was found irresistible by so many women also found himself out of luck on this night. His date was not interested in sex and did not accompany him home.

The details of exactly what happened to Bob Crane that night have never been definitely established. But what is known is terrible.

VCR cord used to strangle Bob Crane
VCR cord used to strangle Bob Crane

In all probability, the troubled actor was sleeping in his bed when someone took a powerful blunt instrument and bashed him in the left side of the head with it. The killer brought the weight down a second time. Then the attacker left the bedroom and cut a black cord off a VCR. This was wrapped very tightly around the victim's throat, tied and knotted. The autopsy revealed that Crane was dead at the time the VCR cord was wrapped around his neck.

It was just after 2 p.m. on June 29, 1978, when Victoria Berry would decide to drop in on Bob Crane. As Graysmith wrote, "Bob had not appeared at noon for a local Television Academy luncheon, where the two of them were to be interviewed, and it was out of character for him not to have called if he had changed his mind." Crane and she were close, and she had reason to believe her appearance would be welcomed when, attired in a blue T-shirt and blue hot pants, she knocked on his door.

No one answered.

She knocked a second time and still no one answered.

Although she knew Crane was conscientious about locking his door, she impulsively tried the knob. To her surprise, it easily opened.

"Bob? Bob? Bob?" she called as she entered her friend's home. She walked through a messy living room. Playboy, Esquire and TV Guides were stacked on the tables but also lying on the floor. She saw a camera and address book on the coffee table along with numerous papers spilling off of it. A pair of white pants hung over the sofa. Close to the fireplace stood a video camera on a tripod.

She called, "Bob?" She wondered if he might be out by the pool, strode to the window for a look, and did not see him.

When she entered the bedroom she stopped and paused. A human figure lay curled in the bed. There was a huge dark area behind the head with great sweeps of redness behind it and on the wall. She wondered if what she saw was a woman's long, disarrayed hair.

She got closer and realized that she was looking at a man's dead body surrounded by gore.

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