Hollywood murder mystery: Arrest made in TV director’s 1985 killing

A man charged with bludgeoning and strangling a Hollywood television director to death more than three decades ago was arrested Thursday in North Carolina after police said DNA and a confession linked him to the crime.

The man, 52-year-old Edwin Hiatt, was charged with murder in California for the 1985 death of Barry Crane in Los Angeles and will be sent to the state, Los Angeles police announced.

Crane directed dozens of episodes of hit 1970s and ’80s TV shows such as “The Incredible Hulk, “Hawaii 5-O” and “The Six Million Dollar Man.” He also produced the show “The Magician” and was associate producer for “Mannix” and “Mission: Impossible.” He was also a world-class bridge player.

A housekeeper found the 57-year-old dead in his garage in his Studio City townhouse on July 5, 1985. He had been beaten with a large ceramic statue and strangled with a telephone cord, the News Herald of Morgantown, North Carolina reported, citing court documents. He was naked and wrapped in bedsheets.

His wallet and Cadillac were missing from the home, CBS affiliate WSOC-TV reported, although there was no word on a motive for the killing.

Crane’s death had gone unsolved until police said last year they matched a fingerprint from Crane’s stolen car to Hiatt, who was 18 at the time of the killing. FBI investigators conducting surveillance on Hiatt obtained his discarded cigarette butts and a coffee cup from the parking lot of the auto repair shop in Burke County, North Carolina, where Hiatt worked.

DNA from those items matched DNA that was on cigarette butts found in Crane’s stolen car, which was discovered shortly after his 1985 death on a mountain road, investigators said.

On March 8 this year, homicide detectives went to North Carolina to interview Hiatt.

“During the interview, Hiatt admitted to killing Barry Crane,” an LAPD statement said.

It wasn’t immediately known whether Hiatt had a lawyer.

Video from WSOC-TV showed Hiatt, of Connelly Springs, being arrested. Hiatt, with long white hair and beard, held his handcuffed hands in front of him as he was taken to a car.

When asked by a WSOC reporter whether he thought authorities would eventually catch up with him, Hiatt replied, “I didn’t have any clue what was going on when they first met me.”

Hiatt told the station he had no memory of what occurred in 1985 except for “bits and pieces that were brought back to me just by suggestion.”

Asked if he could have killed Crane, he replied: “Anything’s possible back then … I was big into drugs.”

Hiatt said he didn’t remember Crane “until they told me his name, and then I didn’t remember his picture.”

“I just don’t want to remember the past,” he said, adding later: “It’s a different life today.”

Co-workers told the News Herald that Hiatt was a generous and peaceful man.

“He wouldn’t hurt a flea,” co-worker Dee Hall said.

“This is something that supposedly happened 30 years ago, the man’s changed,” Hall said. “Christ has come in and he’s become a new creature. If God’s forgiven you, you’re forgiven. That’s it.”

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