The Chilling Murder Of Bill Cosby's Son Ennis

Actor and comedian Bill Cosby married his wife, Camille Olivia Hanks, on January 25, 1964. As reported by Married Biography, the couple had five children. Their first daughter Erika was born in 1965, Erinn was born in 1966. Camille and Bill Cosby's only son, Ennis, was born in 1969, followed by Ensa in 1973 and Evin in 1976.

Although three of their children are still alive and well, their daughter Ensa died of kidney disease in February 2018, and their son Ennis was murdered in January 1997. Although the loss of both children was devastating, Ennis' death was particularly distressing as he was seemingly killed without provocation and the shooter fled the scene and was not identified or arrested for several months.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Ennis Cosby inspired the role of Theo Huxtable on the hit sitcom "The Cosby Show." However, the Cosbys otherwise kept Ennis and his siblings out of the spotlight as much as possible. 

Throughout his childhood, Ennis struggled with his schoolwork and had trouble maintaining his grades. However, The Cinemaholic, reports it was unclear what was causing Ennis' difficulties until he was diagnosed with dyslexia while pursuing his undergraduate degree.

After earning a bachelor's degree in psychology from Atlanta's Morehouse College, Ennis went on to earn a master's degree in special education and was pursuing his doctoral degree at New York's Columbia University at the time of his death. The Los Angeles Times reports Ennis was a thoughtful and caring man, who tutored the disadvantaged and homeless in his free time. 

Ennis Cosby was murdered while changing his tire

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, civil rights leader Andrew Young said Ennis Cosby "was a kid becoming a man, with everything in the world going for him ... I saw in him hope for all youth." Unfortunately, Ennis' life was cut short by what was later described as a botched robbery attempt.

In the early morning hours of January 16, 1997, Ennis was driving his mother's Mercedes SL Convertible along Interstate 405. As he traveled through the Sepulveda Pass, he got a flat tire and pulled over to the side of the road. According to OK Magazine, Ennis called his girlfriend, Stephanie Crane, and asked her to meet him where his car broke down.

As reported by OK Magazine, Stephanie Crane attempted to dissuade Ennis Cosby from changing his own tire, as she was concerned for his safety. According to reports, she asked Cosby to call a tow truck for assistance. However, Cosby was intent on changing the tire himself.

When Crane arrived, she parked behind Cosby while he worked on changing his tire. Shortly after she arrived, a man approached Crane's vehicle and threatened physical harm if she did not open her door.

OK Magazine reports Crane immediately began driving away to avoid a confrontation. However, as she pulled away, she was stunned to hear a gunshot. When she turned around and drove back to the scene, Crown found Cosby dead with a bullet wound to the head.

The National Enquirer offered a $100,000 reward

The killer took off and authorities were unable to make an immediate arrest. However, as reported by the Los Angeles Times, authorities did recover a handgun and a knit cap, which were determined to be linked to Ennis Cosby's murder.

Detectives eventually identified a man and a woman, who were persons of interest in the case. However, they were both questioned and ultimately released. Authorities finally got a break in the case when a $100,000 reward, which was funded by the National Enquirer, encouraged a witness to come forward.

AP News reports Christopher So told authorities 18-year-old Mikhail Markhasev had been bragging about shooting and killing Cosby in the days and weeks after the murder occurred. According to So, he also drove Markhasev and another man to search for the discarded weapon Markhasev used to commit the crime.

So said he came forward with the information because Markhasev "took somebody else's life, somebody's son." As he is also a father, So said he would want someone to come forward if his child was ever harmed.

According to History, Markhasev, who is a Ukrainian immigrant, was using a telephone in a park-and-ride lot when he spotted Cosby and his disabled car. Witnesses said Markhasev approached Cosby and asked him for money. However, Cosby reportedly took too long, and Markhasev shot him in the head. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, Markhasev was known to authorities and had a criminal record.

Mikhail Markhasev was charged and convicted of Ennis Cosby's murder

The Cinemaholic reports hair samples authorities recovered from the knit cap were consistent with Mikhail Markhasev's hair. They also confirmed the handgun found with the knit cap was used in the assault. Markhasev was subsequently charged with Ennis Cosby's murder.

As reported by AP Archive, the trial lasted two weeks before it was turned over to the jury, which was made up of six men and six women. After fewer than six hours, the jury returned with a unanimous guilty verdict.

Prior to sentencing, Cosby's uncle, Eric Hanks, gave a victim impact statement — which included anecdotes about Ennis Cosby's life and how beloved he was by his family and friends. In addition to sharing several photos of the victim, AP Archive reports Hanks said, "Everyone I spoke with who knew him well regarded him as a good, kind and caring person. We all admired him for how he would extend his hand in friendship to anybody regardless of race or religious background, ethnicity or economic status. He wasn't looking for any special recognition, that's just the way he was."

Hanks also emphasized Markhasev's apparent lack of remorse and shared a photo of the defendant smiling during the proceedings. According to AP Archive, the defendant did not show any emotion when the jury's decision was read and simply winked at his grandmother. Hanks ultimately asked the court to sentence Markhasev to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Mikhail Markhasev was sentenced to life in prison

In July 1998, Mikhail Markhasev was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of Ennis Cosby. Although he denied involvement, and filed an appeal, Markhasev ultimately confessed to the heinous crime. As reported by The Cinemaholic, Markhasev sent a letter to the California Deputy Attorney General, in which he requested to withdraw his appeal.

In the letter, he also said, "I am guilty, and I want to do the right thing ... More than anything, I want to apologize to the victim's family. It is my duty as a Christian, and it's the least I can do, after the great wickedness for which I am responsible."

In the years before Markhasev sent a letter to the California Deputy Attorney General, he wrote another letter that was introduced during his trial. In the letter, he referred to Ennis Cosby by using a racial slur. As reported by ABC News, Markhasev's attorneys argued that the letter was forged. However, AP News reports Markhasev used the same slur when describing his victim to Christopher So.

According to Showbiz CheatSheet, Bill Cosby referred to Markhasev's racism in a 2020 Instagram post, which was posted by his legal team on his behalf. The statement said, in part, "When I think about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless other Black people murdered by Racial Hatred, I could not help but think about my son, Ennis, who was also brutally murdered."

Bill and Camille Cosby believe Ennis' murder was racially motivated

Camille Cosby has also blamed racism for the death of her son Ennis. As reported by CBS News, Camille said the media seemed to have "played down the racial aspect" of Ennis' murder. In an article published by USA Today, Camille said she did not blame Ukraine for instilling racism in Mikail Markhasev. Instead, she believes he became racist after moving to the United States.

CBS News reports Camille blames television programs and movies for perpetuating negative stereotypes about Black people. She said Markhasev was not exposed to those television programs and movies in Ukraine. However, after moving to the United States in the late 1980s, he was exposed to the negative stereotypes that subsequently breed racism.

Camille also blamed the prominence of white supremacists and hate crimes against Black people in the United States for encouraging more hatred and ultimately causing an increase in crimes against Blacks. According to CBS News, Camille also blamed the United States' pervasive use of Christian icons that have been "recreated in images of whiteness," for furthering the idea that whites are somehow superior to Blacks.

Although Ennis Cosby's death has been attributed to a botched robbery, race relations expert Dr. Alvin Poussaint said Markhasev's use of racial slurs when referring to his victim, and the fact that Ennis was not actually robbed, suggest the murder was related to Ennis' race.