STUDIO CITY—Edwin Jerry Hiatt II, 52, of North Carolina, was arrested on Thursday, May 9, for his involvement in the murder of Hollywood director Bill Crane back in July 1985. The suspect was taken into custody for one count of murder by FBI agents Thursday in North Carolina.
On March 8, Robbery Homicide Detectives of the Los Angeles Police Department traveled to North Carolina and interviewed Hiatt. During the interview, Hiatt admitted to killing Barry Crane, a famed Hollywood television director.
Hiatt told reporters that he was “into drugs” at the time of Bill Crane’s murder and that “anything was possible.” He also told media officials that he did not have a strong recollection of Crane until detectives reminded him of it. Hiatt was 18 years old at the time of the murder.
He had his first appearance in court on Friday, May 10. Reporters inside the courtroom noted that Hiatt was using a wheelchair to get around and spoke with a mumble.
Crane’s housekeeper had found his body on July 5, 1985 wrapped in bedding located on the garage floor of his Studio City home. Crane had been strangled with a telephone cord and bludgeoned with a ceramic statue. His car and wallet were stolen, but later recovered.
Crane’s murder remained unsolved for 34 years. The murder case was reopened in 2006 and in 2018, with forensic evidence undergoing retesting by the LAPD. In July 2018, the new DNA results successfully matched Hiatt’s.
The connection of Hiatt to Crane’s murder began when his fingerprints were found on the handle of Crane’s vehicle. The FBI obtained DNA samples from Hiatt by collecting his discarded cigarette butts and a coffee cup Hiatt used. He discarded the cup and the cigarettes at an auto repair shop in North Carolina where he was employed. The DNA from the cup, cigarettes, and the fingerprints found on Crane’s car were all a match.
Hiatt was caught with a stolen vehicle in the state of Utah in 1985 before he killed Crane. In 1997, he was arrested for domestic violence where he allegedly beat and strangled his wife until she vomited. He is being held without bail at the Burke County Jail in North Carolina. He is pending extradition to Los Angeles. If convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.