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"It was pleasant, and there was nothing really predominant," she testified at a hearing to determine if Carpenter should stand trial for murdering Crane.

"Do you recall describing John Carpenter's phone call as being strange?" prodded Maricopa County prosecutor Myrna Parker.

"Vaguely, vaguely," Berry replied.
Lieutenant Ron Dean took the telephone from Berry and, he says, identified himself as a police officer investigating "an incident at the Crane apartment." Carpenter told him he'd been out with the actor until about 1 a.m., a time he would revise the next morning to 2:45 a.m. He said he'd found his own way to the airport later that morning for his flight home.

The telephone rang again soon after Carpenter hung up. It was one of Crane's many female friends from Phoenix. Then Bob Crane Jr., worried after hearing from Carpenter a few minutes earlier, telephoned his father's apartment for information, but was told little. At about 3:30 p.m., Carpenter called again. This time Lieutenant Dean answered the telephone.

Dean says it troubled him that Carpenter didn't ask him what kind of crime had been committed or where Bob Crane was.

"The reason he didn't ask me was that he already knew what had happened," Dean tells New Times. "The killer himself had returned to the scene of the crime--by phone."
Carpenter's version, of course, is different than Dean's. "I asked him what was going on," Carpenter tells New Times. "He said, 'We have a situation here.' I said, 'What? A robbery?' He wouldn't tell me. That's why I called Bob Crane Jr. . . . I was very worried."

@body:Word of Bob Crane's murder swept across the Valley, the nation, the world. It was easily the biggest crime in the history of Scottsdale, years away from becoming today's booming tourist mecca of 140,000.

The Scottsdale Police Department in 1978 was a typical small-city agency. It didn't have a homicide unit--there weren't enough murders to merit one--and its officers did a little of everything. That lack of specialization shaped how the department mobilized for its highest-profile case ever.

Led by chief case officer Dennis Borkenhagen and his superior, Lieutenant Ron Dean, Scottsdale began its investigation by the book: a search of the crime scene and an effort to learn how and why a killer had struck.

What the motive wasn't was far easier for investigators to determine. Nothing of financial value seemed to be missing from Crane's apartment. That eliminated robbery.

There were no signs of a struggle, and a postmortem examination indicated Crane had been asleep when someone bludgeoned him in the left temple with a blunt instrument.

The detectives found bloodstains on the inside of the front door and surmised that the killer had fled in that direction. There were no signs of forced entry, and the sliding-glass door that led to the swimming pool was unlocked. Victoria Berry said she hadn't touched the door, and detectives suspected the killer had known Crane and intentionally left it unlocked during an earlier visit.

The Crane murder weapon remained missing; police only knew it was a blunt object, such as a golf club or a tire iron, capable of inflicting a swift and fatal blow.

Investigators quickly interviewed many of Crane's friends and colleagues. They learned that amiable, popular, 49-year-old Bob Crane had left behind many people who detested him.

A partial list included:
His estranged second wife, Patty, with whom Crane had feuded in a loud and bitter telephone conversation overheard by his neighbors and by John Carpenter hours before Crane's death.

A fellow actor who had sworn vengeance after a violent argument with Crane in Texas a few months before the murder.

The many husbands and boyfriends of women Crane had sexually seduced. An example: The ex-boyfriend of a woman Crane had slept with in Scottsdale taped a mutilated newspaper photograph of Crane to her back door after the man learned of their relationship.

Some of those women were among the literally hundreds who had posed nude for Crane and his ever-present Polaroid camera. Many others consented to having their lovemaking with Crane videotaped. Some, however, had no idea Crane had recorded his sex sessions with them until after he died and the Scottsdale police informed them.

The detectives confiscated Crane's videotapes during their first search of his apartment. In the rear bathroom, they also found a minidarkroom with negatives of nude women awaiting development in a tray. A photo enlarger sat on the back of the toilet.

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin