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VALLEY ROUNDUP | North Hollywood

City Offers Reward in Freeway Death

May 27, 2000|ROBERTO J. MANZANO

Authorities announced a $25,000 reward Friday for information on the death of a filmmaker who was killed after he confronted the occupants of a sport utility vehicle who had pelted his Jeep with raw eggs.

The Los Angeles Police Department also released a sketch of the man, believed to be in his 20s, who may have been driving the black Chevy Suburban that struck Michael Craven, a Canoga Park documentary filmmaker, on April 29.

Craven, 44, was driving a Jeep Wrangler on the southbound Hollywood Freeway near Barham Boulevard shortly before 11 p.m. when the Suburban began chasing him, police said. Its occupants pelted his car with eggs and a beer bottle, they added.

He pulled into the right shoulder and the sport utility vehicle stopped behind him. He walked up to the Suburban, which had tinted windows and dealer's license plates, and was run down by the driver, who sped away.

Craven died a few hours later.

"We want [a witness] to tell us who was driving this vehicle and where the hell it's at," said Det. Vince Bancroft of the LAPD's North Hollywood Division. "[The driver] needs to be found so he can explain his side of the matter. We want to talk to this person and figure out what happened. We're not looking to just slam the cuffs on the person and throw him in jail."

The Los Angeles City Council put up the reward money.

Witnesses said there were one or two others in the Suburban, but they are not facing charges, police said.

"We're hoping [the reward] will cause someone to come forward who is an eyewitness or was in the car with the perpetrator and who will help put together the pieces for us," said Craven's ex-wife, Kathleen Barich.

According to Bancroft, police found an egg carton near the victim, which they traced to a market near Franklin and Vermont avenues in Hollywood, near the restaurant where Craven had eaten dinner earlier that night.

Police believe Craven took Franklin west to the Hollywood Freeway and crossed paths with the sport utility vehicle sometime before getting on the freeway.

In their search for the vehicle that struck Craven, police have gone to about a dozen dealerships and inspected about 25 black Chevy Suburbans, Bancroft said. Police plan to look at every one of the vehicles recently sold in Los Angeles County, he said.

"It's a needle in the haystack at this point, [but] we will continue to look at every vehicle until we find this person," Bancroft said.

An avid coin collector, Craven had been working on a film about the history of the U.S. through its currency. He had moved from Louisville, Ky., to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film.

Anyone with information on the case should call Bancroft or Det. Steven Metz at (818) 623-4075 or (818) 623-4016.

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