STUDIO CITY (CBSLA) – Thanks to DNA evidence, a North Carolina man has been arrested in the cold case murder of a Hollywood television director who was found bludgeoned to death in his Studio City home nearly 34 years ago.
FBI agents took 52-year-old Edwin Hiatt into custody Thursday in North Carolina on one count of murder in the killing of 57-year-old Barry Crane, Los Angeles police report.
On July 5, 1985, a housekeeper discovered Crane bludgeoned with a ceramic statue and strangled with a telephone cord on the garage floor of his townhome, police said. He was wrapped in bedding.
His car had been stolen. It was later recovered.
Crane’s murder went unsolved. In 2006 and again in 2018, LAPD detectives got forensic evidence in the case retested. In July 2018, a test came back with a match to Hiatt.
According to the News Herald newspaper of Morgantown, N.C., a fingerprint taken from Crane’s stolen car matched Hiatt, who had a criminal history which included car theft and domestic violence.
In November of 2018, an FBI team conducted surveillance on a North Carolina auto shop where Crane worked and collected a coffee cup and cigarette butts. Hiatt’s DNA from the cigarettes matched DNA from inside Crane’s stolen car, the News Herald reports.
On March 8 of this year, LAPD detectives traveled to North Carolina to interview Hiatt, during which he allegedly confessed to killing Crane, police said.
Police did not disclose if they had a motive in Crane’s killing.
The L.A. County district attorney’s office then filed a murder charge against Hiatt and he was taken into custody Thursday. He is being held without bail in the Burke County jail, inmate records show, pending extradition back to L.A. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Crane’s directing credits include “The Incredible Hulk,” “The Love Boat,” “Fantasy Island,” “Police Woman,” “Police Story” and “The Streets of San Francisco.” He was also a world class champion bridge player.