Who killed Bob Crane?

Who Killed Bob Crane?John Hook, an American reporter, will release his book “Who Killed Bob Crane?” on February 21, 2017. As a treat for my readers, John gave me photography to use on my blog and an excerpt of the first chapter.

The Case

The book explores the unsolved murder of American icon and Hogan’s Heroes TV star Bob Crane. This cold case starts on June 29, 1978. Crane’s dead body was found in bed in his Scottsdale (Arizona) apartment. He was curled in a semi-fetal sleeping position. His battered head rested partly on a blood-soaked pillow. A black electrical cord was tied around his neck.

John Hook worked with Bob Crane’s son, Bob Crane Jr., to shed new light on this decades old case. He interviewed the witnesses, detectives, prosecutors, jurors, and family members involved and even had old evidence retested for DNA.

For nearly 40 years, police was convinced that John Carpenter was their man. Carpenter and Crane were friends who shared a dark obsession—videotaping women during their sexual encounters. You can read all about that in the book.

Modern Twist

In 1978, we did not have DNA testing. John took the 1978 blood samples from Carpenter’s rental car for retesting with modern DNA technology. Two sequences were identified. The results: “The people associated with the samples (Bob Crane and John Carpenter) are excluded as possible contributors of the major component DNA profile obtained from the sample listed above.” One sequence came from an unknown male. The other sequence was too degraded to reach a conclusion. A modern twist on an old mystery.

Short Q&A
John Hook

John Hook

As you can imagine John is a busy man but he generously took the time to answer some questions:

A: when did you realize that you wanted to become a reporter?

I wanted to call sports – play by-play for hockey actually. That love started at age 10 or so. But when I got into radio while at ASU, I realized a lot of ex-athletes were getting the sports jobs. I started moving towards news. I did both for a while. But news gradually became my focus because I loved how it was always changing. Sports is cyclical. But news is more complex and interesting.

B: what is your personal connection to the Crane case?

I grew up watching Hogan’s Heroes as a kid. I arrived at ASU in the summer of ’78. Two months after Bob Crane’s murder. His apartment was just 7 miles from my dorm. Crane and the murder case have basically been with me my whole life. Rarely – if ever – has a reporter been allowed access to retest DNA evidence in a cold-case murder. That’s what happened here. Bode-Cellmark, the lab that did the testing in this case and O-J Simpson and Jon Benet Ramsey told me they had never done this for a reporter before. This is so rare. We were on the inside of this investigation. 

C: wish you could re-examine the case again?

I wish there were some way to go back in time and apply 2017 forensics to the Crane murder from the day it happened. We would have known much more. Blood evidence and DNA were very crude back in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s during the life of the Crane investigation. If it happened today – we’d be in a different place. 

D: a word of caution about DNA?

DNA science has evolved to such a point that the sensitivity can detect things we cannot even see. This is of course incredibly powerful – but at the same time raises a host of new issues. Because DNA testing is so sensitive – you can pick up “outlier” DNA during testing that might have absolutely nothing to do with the crime. It’s an increasing issue in police investigations.

Who Killed Bob Crane? The Final Close-Up” is John Hook’s first book. If you read it, let me know your thoughts.

My two cents: test the ends of the black cord for touch DNA with the M-Vac to see if we can lift a profile!