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Records show Carpenter checked out of the Sunburst at 8:24 that morning and turned in the Cordoba at the Avis counter in the hotel, complaining to a clerk that the car had electrical problems.
The hotel check-in clerk says Carpenter was "pleasant but strange," which is how some describe the man to this day. Carpenter, a nervous type, says he mistakenly believed his flight home was at 11 a.m., but then discovered it was an hour earlier. If he was edgy, he says, it was about his flight.
Carpenter briefly tracks his next movements like this: He says he took a cab to Sky Harbor, hopped on his Continental Airlines flight to Los Angeles, picked up his car at a repair shop there and drove to work.
He says he called Bob Crane's apartment from work and heard Scottsdale police lieutenant Ron Dean's voice for the first time. Carpenter would get to know Dean very well in the next two weeks.
@body:John Carpenter in 1978 was separated from his wife, Diana, and was living with 20-year-old Rita Cloutier in Inglewood, California. Rita answered the door at the couple's apartment early on the evening of July 1, the day after police discovered the blood in Carpenter's rental car.
The two men at the door introduced themselves as Ron Dean and Dennis Borkenhagen from the Scottsdale Police Department. They wanted to talk to John. Rita said she didn't know where he was. She said she had expected to be away for the weekend, but had just returned home. She said she thought Carpenter might be at the home of his longtime friend, actor Richard Dawson of Hogan's Heroes and Family Feud fame.
A spooked Carpenter had spent time at Dawson's after the murder. Dawson's son, Mark Dawson, then in his late teens, recalls the visits.
"As far as I can remember," Mark Dawson tells New Times, "he was concerned with helping the cops find out who had killed his friend. He wasn't fleeing--just the opposite. My dad had no great love for Bob Crane, but he and John were shocked more than anything else. We really tried not to talk about it much."
Before the cops could contact Richard Dawson, Carpenter called home. Dean got on the line and Carpenter told him he was at his mother's house, about 70 miles away. He agreed to drive back right away and meet with them.
At the apartment, Dean read Carpenter his Miranda rights. He told the investigators to ask whatever they wanted. For the next few hours, Carpenter recounted his visit to the Valley.
He told the investigators he had kept the Cordoba locked at all times, and that the only people who had been in the car during his stay were Bob Crane and Carole Newell. They broke the news to him about finding the blood in the car. Carpenter had no explanation for it.
After the interview, Carpenter went with the Scottsdale cops voluntarily to a Los Angeles County sheriff's substation. He made plans there to fly back to Phoenix the next morning for further questioning.
"I know now this was a stupid thing to do, because I knew they had me in their sights," Carpenter says. "They even told me they thought I was the bad guy. I was nervous. But I didn't have anything to hide."
On July 2, Carpenter flew back to Arizona with Dean and Borkenhagen. Though he didn't know it at the time, he had a one-way ticket. That spoke volumes about the cops' intentions.
That afternoon, Carpenter met at the Scottsdale Police Department with Dean, Borkenhagen and deputy county attorney Larry Turoff. Carpenter expressed apprehension at the start of the interview, "since you [have] implied and directly told me that I had direct contact with Bob Crane's death."
But Carpenter again waived his rights to confer with an attorney and agreed to answer any questions.
"You shook me with the blood on my car," he told them. "I don't know where that came from; I don't know how much there was. Then you said to me, 'Why did I kill Bob Crane?' I told you right off I didn't, and I would never do that. . . . I'm just not that type of person."
Dean again asked him about Crane's album of nude photos he had mentioned in their California interview. Carpenter said he had seen it the day of the murder in Crane's bedroom.
This would become important to the investigators: Others they had interviewed had also mentioned the photo album, but the search of Crane's apartment hadn't turned it up. The cops concluded Carpenter had taken the photo album from the murder scene and then volunteered the information as a clever diversionary tactic to prove his good faith.
Near the end of the July 2 interview, Carpenter blurted something out of the blue:
"Yesterday, you said something about a polygraph. I could go, voluntary, [for] either a polygraph or sodium pentothal. And you can ask me whatever you want, under doctors' conditions or however . . . either one that you people feel you might get more information out of me."
The Scottsdale cops remained noncommittal.
The interview ended with Carpenter asking the million-dollar question: "Well, what happens to me?"