Man arrested in 1985 murder of TV producer, bridge legend Barry Crane

Besides directing or producing episodes of shows like "Mission: Impossible" and "Hawaii-Five-O," Crane was a member of the bridge Hall of Fame.

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By Alex Johnson

LOS ANGELES — The FBI arrested a North Carolina man on Thursday in the 1985 murder of Barry Crane, a veteran TV producer who was one of the world's greatest contract bridge players, police said.

Edwin Hiatt was arrested in Burke County, North Carolina, by the FBI's Fugitive Task Force two months after Los Angeles homicide officers acting on new evidence traveled across the country to question Hiatt, police said. Hiatt confessed during the March 8 interview and is awaiting extradition to Los Angeles, they said.

Barry Crane in May 1973.Denver Post via Getty Images file

The News Herald newspaper of Morganton, in Burke County, reported that Hiatt is 52 years old and lives in the town of Connellys Springs, about 50 miles northwest of Charlotte.

A housekeeper discovered the body of Crane, 57, wrapped in bedding on the garage floor of his residence in North Hollywood. He had been bludgeoned and strangled, and his car had been stolen, police said.

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Police said Thursday that they got a forensics match to Hiatt last year, prompting them to send detectives to North Carolina in March. That was when Hiatt confessed, police said.

Crane was a longtime TV producer and director, with director, producer and assistant producer credits on shows like "Mission: Impossible," "Mannix," "Trapper John, M.D.," "CHiPs," "The Incredible Hulk," "Hawaii Five-O" and many other series.

But he was better known as a contract bridge player and was widely described in his obituaries as among the best players in the world. He was last seen alive the day before his body was found at a regional team bridge tournament in Pasadena, California.

His team won the tournament the day after his body was discovered, the Los Angeles Times reported at the time.

Crane and his partner won the world mixed-pairs championship in 1978, according to the World Bridge Federation, and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the American Contract Bridge League, or ACBL, as a Grand Life Master in 1995.

Crane won 16 North American championships over 30 years, and at the time of his death, he had accumulated the most master points in tournament play in history, according to the ACBL, which renamed one of its most prestigious prizes the Barry Crane Trophy. He had won the award six times himself.

"In many respects Crane was an A-1 ambassador and publicist for bridge all over North America," according to Crane's ACBL biography. "No one gave as many interviews to the media in as many different cities and towns."

The ACBL biography quoted the British bridge writer S.J. Simon as describing Crane as "a natural."

"We shall not see his like again," it quoted Simon as saying.

CORRECTION (May 10, 2019, 12 p.m. ET): An earlier version of this article misstated, in one reference, the last name of the longtime TV producer and director. He was Crane, not Hiatt.

Andrew Blankstein contributed.