John Henry Carpenter

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John Henry Carpenter
Born(1928-04-24)April 24, 1928[citation needed]
DiedSeptember 4, 1998(1998-09-04) (aged 70)[1]
OccupationVideo equipment salesman[2]
Known forFriendship with, then accused in the murder of actor Bob Crane

John Henry Carpenter (June 24, 1928 – September 4, 1998) was most widely known as the friend and accused murderer of actor Bob Crane[4] in 1978.[5]


Carpenter was of Native American and Spanish heritage.[6] He was born on an Indian reservation where as a teenager he often earned money as a migrant worker harvesting apricots.

Carpenter served in the U.S. Army and was married twice. Following his retirement from the Army he took a job marketing video technology, achieving expertise in that field and becoming head of the video wing of a new Japanese electronics company debuting in the United States called Sonycom, later to be known simply as Sony. John had a child, John Michael Carpenter, from his first marriage who was adopted with the last name of Merrill. John Carpenter had three grandchildren from his first marriage and six great grandchildren.

Relationship with Bob Crane[edit]

During the run of Hogan's Heroes, Richard Dawson introduced Crane to Carpenter, a regional sales manager for Sony Electronics,[2] who often helped famous clients with their video equipment.[7] The two men struck up a friendship and began going to bars together. Crane attracted women due to his celebrity status and introduced Carpenter as his manager. Later, they would videotape their sexual encounters.[8] While Crane's son Robert later insisted that all of the women were aware of the videotaping and consented to it, some, according to one source, had no idea that they had been filmed until informed by Scottsdale police after Crane's murder.[9] Carpenter later became national sales manager at Akai, and arranged his business trips to coincide with Crane's dinner-theater touring schedule so that the two could continue seducing and videotaping women after Hogan's Heroes had run its course.[10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19]

Carpenter trial[edit]

In 1994, Crane's murder case was re-opened and Carpenter was tried and eventually acquitted.[11] As a result of the accusation, he was fired from work as National Service Manager at Kenwood USA, a California electronics firm.[20] He always maintained his innocence, and later said he felt a huge relief after his name had been cleared. One jury member later said in an interview that the jury believed there was insufficient proof to determine Carpenter's guilt and that "you cannot prove someone guilty on speculation."

Portrayal in Auto Focus[edit]

In the 2002 biopic Auto Focus, Carpenter was played by Willem Dafoe.[21]

The film strongly suggests that Carpenter was bisexual and was sexually attracted to Crane, which was presented by the prosecution's case as Carpenter's motive for the crime. No witnesses or evidence were presented to support the prosecution's claims. In the special features section of the DVD, a documentary extra has Carpenter's second wife adamantly asserting that Carpenter was completely heterosexual. The film also portrays Carpenter as suffering from colorblindness.


  1. ^ "John Henry Carpenter,70, who was acquitted four years ago..." Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Bob Crane - Yahoo! TV". Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  3. ^ "John H. Carpenter; Acquitted in Actor Bob Crane's Death". 11 September 1998. Retrieved 4 May 2018 – via LA Times.
  4. ^ Crane, Robert; Fryer, Christopher (16 March 2015). "Crane: Sex, Celebrity, and My Father's Unsolved Murder". University Press of Kentucky. Retrieved 4 May 2018 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ "All about Bob Crane's murder case by Denise Noe". 27 October 2003. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  6. ^ The Bob Crane Case - Crime Library on Archived 2008-07-06 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ (Katz 2010, p. 288)
  8. ^ Kim, Eun-Kyung (November 1, 1994). "Crane's friend acquitted". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. pp. A–8. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  9. ^ Wilonsky, Robert (July 18, 2001). "Klinky Sex". Archived from the original on December 23, 2010. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  10. ^ (Katz 2010, p. 289)
  11. ^ a b Press, The Associated. "Friend Is Acquitted in 1978 Killing of Actor". Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  12. ^ "Actor Bob Crane died a gruesome death. Anchor's book takes another look". Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  13. ^ "New DNA Evidence Proves Hogan's Heroes Star Bob Crane's Murderer Is Still Unknown". Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  14. ^ News, A. B. C. (6 January 2006). "The Private Passions of Bob Crane". ABC News. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  15. ^ Hirschberg, Lynn (29 September 2002). "First came the sitcom. Then came the murder. Then came the pornographic Web site. Now here comes the Holly wood biopic!". Retrieved 4 May 2018 – via
  16. ^ Rubin, Paul (21 April 1993). "THE BOB CRANE MURDER CASE PART ONE". Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  17. ^ BERGER, LESLIE; MALNIC, ERIC (3 June 1992). "Man Held in Crane's Death Was a Suspect From Day 1 : Crime: Authorities say he phoned the actor's apartment but reached police investigating case". Retrieved 4 May 2018 – via LA Times.
  18. ^ CNN, Lisa Respers France,. "We still don't know who killed Bob Crane". Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  19. ^ "Cold Case: Bob Crane's Secret Life Implicated". Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  20. ^ "Sex, Murder and Videotape". Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  21. ^ "Auto Focus". 1 November 2002. Retrieved 4 May 2018 – via

External links[edit]