Nonetheless, when it came to old-fashioned crime fighting, few could find fault with Mr. DeLoach. He was instrumental in developing a nationwide computerized crime database, now known as National Crime Information Center, or NCIC.
He helped lead the FBI’s investigation of the killings of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner in 1964. After King was assassinated in 1968, Mr. DeLoach personally directed the investigation that led to the arrest of James Earl Ray.
Cartha Dekle “Deke” DeLoach was born July 20, 1920, in Claxton, Ga. He was a child when his father died, and he was working in cotton and tobacco fields by the time he was 10.
He attended a junior college in Georgia, then won an athletic scholarship to Stetson University in Deland, Fla., where he was quarterback on the football team.
Soon after his graduation in 1942, he joined the FBI. He had assignments in Norfolk and Cleveland before serving in the Navy during World War II. He returned to the FBI in 1946 and was assigned to the Washington headquarters a year later.
He began working in 1953 with deputy director Clyde Tolson, the No. 2 official at the FBI and Hoover’s closest friend and confidant. Mr. DeLoach had jobs in the crime-records and communications divisions throughout the 1950s and had an office near Hoover’s.
In later interviews, Mr. DeLoach sometimes said Hoover considered him “the son he never had.”
Since 1985, Mr. DeLoach had lived in Hilton Head Island, where he was chairman of a banking company and the chief fundraiser for an arts center.
Survivors include his wife of 68 years, Barbara Owens DeLoach of Hilton Head; seven children, Barbie Lancaster of Bluffton, S.C., C.D. “Deke” DeLoach Jr. of Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla., Tom DeLoach of Columbia, S.C., Theresa DeLoach and Greg DeLoach, both of Hilton Head, Sharon Bleifeld of Alpharetta, Ga., and Mark DeLoach of West Palm Beach, Fla.; 13 grandchildren; and 16 great-grandchildren.
He published a book about his experiences, “Hoover’s FBI: The Inside Story by J. Edgar Hoover’s Trusted Lieutenant,” in 1995.
In the 1990s, allegations surfaced that Hoover — who often seemed curious about the sex lives of others — may have had a homosexual relationship with Tolson, who died in 1974.
In a 1993 interview on CNN’s “Larry King Live,” Mr. DeLoach refuted the accusations as “third-handed gossip, innuendo, lies, deceit” and “a pile of garbage.”