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John Henry Carpenter

For other people named John Carpenter, see John Carpenter (disambiguation).
John Henry Carpenter
Born (1928-04-24)April 24, 1928[1]
Died September 4, 1998(1998-09-04) (aged 70)
Occupation Video equipment salesman[2]
Known for Friendship with, then accused in the murder of actor Bob Crane

John Henry Carpenter (June 24, 1928[1] - September 4, 1998) was most widely known as the friend and accused murderer of actor Bob Crane in 1978.[3]


Carpenter was of Native American and Spanish heritage.[4] He was born on an Indian reservation where as a teenager he often earned money as a migrant worker harvesting apricots.

Carpenter served in the U.S. Army and was married twice. Following his retirement from the Army he took a job marketing video technology, achieving expertise in that field and becoming head of the video wing of a new Japanese electronics company debuting in the USA called Sonycom, later to be known simply as Sony. John had a child, John Michael Carpenter, from his first marriage who was adopted with the last name of Merrill. John Carpenter had three grandchildren from his first marriage and six great grandchildren.

Relationship with Crane

Carpenter, a salesman specializing in video technology,[2] met Crane through mutual friend Richard Dawson, Crane's co-star on Hogan's Heroes.[5] Crane and Carpenter frequented bars together, picking up women and often recording their exploits in snapshots and on videotape.[1]

Carpenter trial

In 1994, the case was re-opened and Carpenter was tried and eventually acquitted. As a result of the accusation, he was fired from work as National Service Manager at Kenwood USA, a California electronics firm.[5] He always maintained his innocence, and later said he felt a huge relief after his name has been cleared. One jury member later said in an interview that the jury believed there was insufficient proof to determine Carpenter's guilt and that "you cannot prove someone guilty on speculation."

Portrayal in Auto Focus

In the 2002 biopic Auto Focus, Carpenter was played by Willem Dafoe.[6]

The film strongly suggests that Carpenter was bisexual and was sexually attracted to Crane, which was presented by the prosecution's case as Carpenter's motive for the crime. No witnesses or evidence were presented to support the prosecution's claims. In the special features section of the DVD, a documentary extra has Carpenter's second wife adamantly asserting that Carpenter was completely heterosexual. The film also portrays Carpenter as suffering from colorblindness.


  1. ^ a b c November 1, 1994 article in The New York Times
  2. ^ a b Bob Crane - Yahoo! TV
  3. ^ The Bob Crane Case - Crime Library on
  4. ^ The Bob Crane Case - Crime Library on
  5. ^ a b Sex, Murder, and Videotape
  6. ^ Auto Focus (2002)