How Did Bill Cosby's Son Really Die?
I was surprised when woman after woman ... after woman came forward to accuse Bill Cosby of rape. Not that he was ever my hero, or that I felt anything but ambivalence towards him; I can't remember ever watching an entire episode of The Cosby Show. I liked his stand-up routines and, like many of my fellow GenXers, practically busted a gut watching his well-known standup comedy movie, Bill Cosby: Himself.
A few years ago, it was showing on TV, so I rushed my kids out to watch it, remembering how hard I laughed the first time I saw it. But it was different. The drug jokes made me uncomfortable; my kids hardly laughed at all during that part. It was ... a lot meaner than I remembered. If it had been my first time watching it, I would have turned it off before ever getting to the good parts.
Soon after, the rape accusations against him began attracting more attention in the media, and it got me to thinking: Why hadn't Bill Cosby done more after The Cosby Show? More TV or films? Why did Richard Pryor hate him so much?
Cosby seemed content not working in Hollywood, preferring to travel around the country insulting young black men during commencement speeches. Instead of serving as an inspiration, he chose to put them down, and was often brutal in his criticisms.
I spent most of the 1990s in Russia, in a kind of anti-American pop culture bubble. There were some stars and events that were strong enough to penetrate the Russian dead zone, but the death of Cosby's son, Ennis, was not one of them. When I got back, my stepdad offhandedly said something about how sad it was that Cosby lost his son - murdered by Ukrainian immigrant Mikhail Markhasev - but the knowledge of his death never stuck with me. Honestly, I didn't really care.
After the numerous rape allegations came to light, thousands of comments appeared on every article written about Cosby, and one of those comments was about Cosby losing his son. My interest piqued, I did a little research on it and am not at all convinced that it happened the way cops say it did. There are just too many inconsistencies and ... frankly, who could say for certain that Cosby wouldn't order a hit on his son, if that son threatened to expose his rapist father.
The Crime Scene
I'm not questioning the "whys" of Ennis' murder because of the rape allegations against Cosby; I began questioning the "official" report of his murder based on the location of the crime scene.
It is certainly an unlikely spot for a carjacking. There was only one video I could find that showed the scene in detail from above, from a Spanish-language station (which has since mysteriously disappeared off YouTube). There are no houses or businesses in the area, just an empty frontage road off the main highway. On one side of the road, there is a tall cliff; on the other side, a hill that drops sharply down to the freeway. It is dark and secluded.
In the video, you can't see the nearby bus station in which it was claimed Mikhail Markhasev allegedly resolved to carjack a random car passing by on that deserted frontage road. His friends said that they stopped to use a pay phone and Markhasev just wandered off. They claim to have heard a shot soon thereafter. But the video made me wonder: He planned to steal a car on a road where drivers have no reason to stop or pull over? Even back in the late 90s, people knew not to pick up hitchhikers. Anyway, the police know that Cosby pulled over to fix a flat tire.
If you're thinking that Markhasev decided to carjack Cosby after he got the flat tire, you're thinking that Markhasev had ESP; he couldn't see that far up the road from the bus station. He couldn't see Ennis' car at all.
Stephanie Crane, aka The Woman In The Fur Coat
So a guy you met just five days earlier calls you at 1 o'clock in the morning because he has a flat tire, so you jump out of bed, do your hair and makeup, put on a fur coat over a minidress, put on high heels, and rush to his aid.
We know Ennis met Stephanie Crane at a party about a week before his murder. There are web sites that say he was on his way to her house, but was headed home to make a steak before he headed over there.
Yeah ... who doesn't head home at one in the morning to make a steak before they head over to what has been frequenty described as "only a friend's" house?
Regardless, her story is that she pulled up behind his Mercedes on the side of that dark, deserted road so she could shine her headlights on Ennis' car, presumably making it easier for him to change the flat tire. She then said that Markhasev came up to her car and tapped on the window and said that she had to open the door or he would kill her. The driver's side window.
So she drove off. But only about 50 feet up the road. Then, in a seemingly blinding moment of regret and good samaritan-ness, she turned around and came back, stopping on the opposite side of the road; by then, Markhasev had allegedly already shot and killed Cosby.
The only part of this entire story that makes sense is her driving off in fear. If that even happened.
We know he called her. Phone records proved that. Literally everything else is based on witness testimony; testimony that doesn't make any sense.
Ignoring that many of the crime scene photos and video of the crime scene that were previously available on the web have been removed ...
... let's examine several of the more bizarre points of this event:
- A carjacker that only stakes out victims in rural areas
- Did I mention how deserted this road was?
- Ennis barely pulled off the road to change a flat or wait for a tow truck; his car was a good way out in the right lane when he parked
- You call a woman you barely know to help you change a tire in the middle of the night ...
- ...and that woman shows up dressed in an expensive fur coat and high heels to help change the tire
- She inexplicably did not notice Markhasev standing and/or walking on the side of the road
- She did not hurt Markhasev when she sped away from the scene, despite the fact he was standing right next to the driver side door
- There is no evidence in photos available online of her "speeding off" at all, i.e., no skid marks on the pavement and no evidence whatsoever that a car "sped off" from the shoulder
- Ennis exited his vehicle after Stephanie sped away, in spite of seeing this strange man with a gun tapping on Ms. Crane's window
- The evidence markers, presumably marking the locations of the bullet casings, are behind Ennis' car on the passenger side ...
- ... which means that after Stephanie sped off, he walked to the passenger side of the car instead of just approaching Cosby directly on the driver's side
- Did I mention that Eli Zakaria, son of known hit man Joseph Zakaria, was purportedly with Markhasev on the night he allegedly killed Ennis Cosby ...
- ... and that he refused to testify at Markhasev's trial, invoking his Fifth Amendment rights?
I can't say who killed Ennis Cosby; even with Mikhail Markhasev's confession, I don't think he did it. It wouldn't take much to coerce or scare him into confessing. I don't think it was a carjacking, but perhaps something far more sinister. Who is to say that Ennis wasn't about to expose his father and bring all those terrible allegations to light?
© 2016 Carrie Peterson