By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
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Carpenter checked in at the Sunburst, a few blocks from Crane's apartment. The new additions to the photo album portended a wild time in the Valley, just what Carpenter was seeking. The two cohorts did their usual bar- and disco-hopping after Crane finished with his evening performances of Beginner's Luck. Though Carpenter didn't drink and Crane drank only rarely, the Valley's nightspots were the best places to meet potential new scores.
Though Carpenter failed on the trip, Crane scored big. Police reports indicate he had sex on the afternoon of his murder with a 29-year-old woman he'd met a few weeks earlier.
After the show on the evening of June 28--Carpenter's last scheduled night in town--the two men left the Windmill. Crane's car had a flat tire and the men drove it to a nearby gas station.
The attendant later noted that someone had apparently tampered with the valve stem on the tire. That led detectives to speculate Carpenter had planned to whack Crane with a tire iron while the actor was changing it. How Carpenter had planned to create an alibi under that scenario is uncertain.
The two men returned to Crane's apartment, where Crane had a loud argument on the telephone with his estranged second wife, Patty. Crane fell into a funk after the ugly call and he wanted to hit the streets running.
It was before midnight, early for the two incurable night owls. They drove together in Crane's car to Bogarts, a bustling Phoenix disco.
The pair met two sisters at the disco, Carole and Christi Newell. Crane introduced Carpenter as his "manager," a typical ploy to impress possible scores. But Crane wasn't much interested in the Newell sisters. From Bogarts, he telephoned Carolyn Baare, a restaurant hostess supervisor he had met during his stay in the Valley.
Crane asked Baare to join the men for an early morning breakfast at the Safari coffee shop in Scottsdale. She said she'd meet them there. Carole Newell's sister was out of the picture by now, but Carole agreed to come along.
The three drove to Scottsdale in Crane's car. On the way to the restaurant, Carpenter grabbed the keys to his rental car from his hotel room. Carpenter and Newell then drove in his car to the Safari, followed shortly by Crane. Carolyn Baare showed up right after Crane.
By all accounts, the conversation at the Safari was friendly but uneventful. The quartet broke up at about 2 a.m. Newell walked out with Carpenter as some fans of Crane chatted with him and Baare for a few moments.
Baare says Crane shouted ahead to Carpenter, "Where are you going?" She says Carpenter replied either, "I will see you later" or "I will see you tomorrow." Carpenter then drove off with Carole Newell.
Carolyn Baare declined Crane's offer to come over to his apartment. She drove herself home after making plans to meet him for lunch the next day.
Carpenter was hoping he had finally hit the jackpot on his last night in the Valley. In Newell's first interview with police, she said Carpenter had simply dropped her off at her home, about five minutes from the restaurant.
From the start, Carpenter has recalled it quite differently. He says he convinced Newell to come into his hotel room at the Sunburst. There, Carpenter says, "I put some moves on her, but she didn't go for it, so I stopped and drove her home."
That's more in line with Newell's later statements to police and her recent testimony at Carpenter's preliminary hearing.
"He tried to encourage me to stay," she told investigators in 1990. "He laid down on top of me while my back was on the bed and kissed me. I remember thinking, 'How am I going to get out of this?' I kept saying, 'I got to go, I got to go.'"
Carpenter took Newell home about 3 a.m. That put him in the five-hour window of opportunity to kill Crane, who died between 3 and 8 a.m., according to a coroner's report, probably closer to 3.
Carpenter drove Newell home after eliciting a promise from her that she'd awaken Crane the next morning, sometime between 8 and 11 a.m. Though she never did go to Crane's, authorities have intimated Carpenter wanted Newell to find the body of the man he planned to kill. But Carpenter says he had a reason for the request: If she doesn't want me, he says he thought to himself, maybe she'll want Bob.
Prosecutors allege that sometime after he dropped Newell off, Carpenter entered Crane's apartment and bashed the sleeping actor to death.
But Carpenter insists he returned to his hotel and called Crane to see how things had fared with Carolyn Baare. Crane, he says, told him he also had struck out. The actor said he was standing in his undershorts editing the swear words out of Saturday Night Fever so his 6-year-old son could watch it.
Carpenter says he told Crane he'd find his own transportation to the airport later that morning. The two exchanged pleasantries, Carpenter says, and soon said good night to each other.