Man arrested in 1985 killing of TV producer Barry Crane charged in Los Angeles

Edwin Jerry Hiatt II, 52, who is awaiting extradition from North Carolina, is charged with murder and faces up to life in prison.

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By Phil Helsel

A man awaiting extradition in North Carolina was charged Friday by Los Angeles prosecutors in the 1985 murder of veteran TV producer Barry Crane.

Edwin Jerry Hiatt II, 52, was arrested Thursday by the FBI in the killing of Crane, 57, whose body was found by a housekeeper wrapped in bedding on the garage floor of his residence in Studio City, authorities said. He had been bludgeoned and strangled, and his car had been stolen, police said.

Edwin Jerry Hiatt, 52, who has been charged in the long-unsolved murder of a top Hollywood television director Barry Crane in 1985, is seen in a booking photo provided by the Burke County Jail in Morganton, North Carolina, on May 10, 2019.Morganton Department of Public Safety / Handout via Reuters

Hiatt is charged with one count of murder with a special allegation that he used a deadly and dangerous weapon, a large ceramic statue, in the killing, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement Friday.

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If convicted, Hiatt faces a possible maximum sentence of life in prison, the district attorney's office said, adding that DNA evidence linked Hiatt to the crime, the district attorney's office said.

It was not immediately clear if Hiatt, who is awaiting extradition from North Carolina, has an attorney.

Police said Thursday that they got a forensics match to Hiatt last year, prompting them to send detectives to North Carolina in March of this year. In an interview with Los Angeles police, Hiatt "admitted to killing Barry Crane," the Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement.

A motive in the killing was not disclosed.

Hiatt told reporters in North Carolina as he was being escorted to jail that "everything that I'm at today is a totally different lifestyle from where I was before" and "I don't have any kind of memory at all, guys, it was just brought to me in little bits and pieces," according to video posted online by ABC affiliate WSOC of Charlotte.

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

Asked if he could have killed Crane in 1985, Hiatt responded, "It's possible — anything's possible," according to the video posted online. According to WSOC, Hiatt also said, "Anything is possible back then because I was big into drugs."

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.

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said Friday that the case is still under investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division.