Murder of prominent 1970s Hollywood director Barry Crane solved 34 years later, police say

Denver Post via Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — The mysterious death of a prominent Hollywood TV director and producer may have finally been solved — 34 years later.

Barry Crane was found dead in his garage in North Hollywood, rolled up naked in bed sheets, by a housekeeper in July 1985. His death was ruled a homicide by bludgeoning and strangulation. Crane’s vehicle was stolen, but later recovered and police were able to recover forensic evidence.

But the mystery of Crane’s death lingered for decades without being solved.

He served as directer or producer on many of the biggest television shows of the 1970s and 1980s: Mission Impossible, Mannix, CHiPs, The Incredible Hulk, Hawaii Five-O, Dallas, The Bionic Woman, The Six Million Dollar Man, Trapper John, M.D. and Wonder Woman.

In 2006, and again in 2018, a Los Angeles Police Department detective from Robbery Homicide Division (RHD) requested that evidence, including fingerprints, be retested. After an attempt in July 2018, RHD received a forensic match to Crane’s suspected killer: Edwin Hiatt, who resided in North Carolina, police said.

Detectives traveled to Rutherford College, North Carolina, and interviewed Hiatt on March 8, during which Hiatt admitted to killing Crane, according to the LAPD. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office filed one count of murder against Hiatt and issued an arrest warrant.

The FBI Fugitive Task Force arrested Hiatt on Thursday in North Carolina, where he is awaiting extradition to California.

Appearing in court on Friday morning, Hiatt used a wheelchair and spoke in a mumble, according to his court-appointed lawyer, Steven Cheuvront. He will next appear in court on June 7.

Hiatt was 18 years old in 1985, according to Charlotte ABC affiliate WSOC. The station spoke to Hiatt as he was being taken to jail.

“I don’t have a really good memory,” Hiatt said. “Anything is possible back then because I was big into drugs.”

Crane, in addition to being a top TV director, was a renowned bridge player. Crane was described as having won more titles in the card game “than anyone else in the history of the game” by an article in The New York Times reporting his death.

The American Contract Bridge League renamed its yearly top point-getter trophy after Crane in the wake of his murder.

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