Friday, January 16, 2015

Ennis Cosby Murdered in Sepulveda Pass 1997

Ennis William Cosby (April 15, 1969 – January 16, 1997) was the son of comedian-actor Bill Cosby and Camille Cosby. He was murdered in 1997 in the Sepulveda Pass on Skirball Center Drive, an access road of Los Angeles' 405 Freeway, by Mikhail Markhasev.


Ennis's father Bill Cosby mined family life for much of his material, but kept the family itself quite private. Thus, much of what is known of Ennis's early life is seen through the filter of his father's comedy sketches and TV shows.

Several events in the life of Ennis Cosby were intentionally mirrored by the events in the life of his father's fictional son, Theo Huxtable, portrayed by Malcolm Jamal Warner on NBC's The Cosby Show (1984–1992). Both Ennis and Theo had four sisters: two older, two younger. Both had academic problems in middle school and high school. Both were diagnosed with dyslexia and excelled academically in college. Additionally, both sought master's degrees in education from elite colleges in New York City: Ennis at Columbia University, and Theo at New York University.

Similarly, the character Griffin Vesey, portrayed by Doug E. Doug on CBS's Cosby (1996–2000), was a surrogate son to Bill Cosby's character on that series. Griffin eventually became a teacher, as Ennis had aspired to become.

Although he performed on stage in high school, Ennis was not a public figure. He attended Eaglebrook School and graduated from George School, in Newtown, Pennsylvania, and Morehouse College, in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1990 he attended Landmark College.

Cosby aspired to become a special education teacher after he overcame his dyslexia. At the time of his death, he was a student at Teachers College, Columbia University, and was a Sunday school teacher in the Bronx.


On the evening of January 16, 1997, Cosby was on his way to visit his friend Stephanie Crane when his Mercedes got a flat tire along Interstate 405, Los Angeles. He pulled his vehicle near the off-ramp on Skirball Center Drive and phoned Crane, explaining what had happened. Crane drove out to meet Cosby, and focused the lights of her vehicle on the Mercedes' flat tire to illuminate it.

As Cosby was changing the tire, Mikhail Markhasev, a Ukrainian immigrant who worked at a nearby restaurant, approached the driver side window of Crane's vehicle and pulled a gun on her. Crane sped 20–50 feet down the street then turned the vehicle around to retrieve Cosby; by the time Crane got back to Cosby's vehicle, he had been shot in the head, and Crane could see Markhasev running down the street. Crane was unable to describe the killer, except that he resembled a character in the film Dead Man Walking.

In the aftermath of Cosby's death, America's Most Wanted and The National Enquirer offered a reward for information leading to the killer's arrest. One of Markhasev's coworkers phoned the Enquirer, giving them Markhasev's name and telling them that Markhasev had bragged on the night of the killing that before work he'd shot a black man and that it was on the news.

According to prosecutors, Markhasev demanded money from Cosby, then shot him in the head because he was moving too slowly. Markhasev was convicted after a jury trial. His DNA was found in a cap wrapped around the murder weapon, and a man to whom Markhasev had sent incriminating letters and told of the location of the murder weapon had testified against him.

After Bill Cosby spoke out against giving Markhasev the death penalty,[1] Markhasev was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus 10 years.[2]

Markhasev confessed his guilt in 2001 in a letter to the court stating he wished to discontinue his appeals, also stating in the letter that he, "Wanted to do the right thing...More than anything, [he] wanted to apologize to the victim's family." Markhasev is serving his sentence in Corcoran State Prison.[3]

Ennis Cosby's funeral was held at the Cosby estate in Shelburne, Massachusetts, where he was interred.


The Hello Friend/Ennis William Cosby Foundation was established in 1997 by Bill and Camille Cosby to assist educating those with learning difficulties.

In 2000, Bill Cosby started a scholarship in Ennis Cosby's name at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania


1.^ NNDB Profile of Bill Cosby
2.^ Berry, Steve. Cosby’s Killer Gets Life in Prison. Los Angeles Times, August 12, 1998.
3.^ Siemaszko, Corky. Scott's Fate Still in Limbo. New York Daily News, December 11, 2004.


  1. Senseless killing. No matter what Bill has done in his adult life, his son's murder is uncalled for. No parent should have to lose a child, no matter how they died.

  2. I saw Bill do his show in the early 2000's in Las Vegas, I think at Mandalay Bay. I was impressed with about 5-6 minutes where he spoke about his son and what a good person he was. Very moving