Ennis Cosby, Bill Cosby’s only son, was killed on Interstate 405 in the Bel-Air section of Los Angeles, California, twenty-five years ago. Interstate 405 is believed to be one of the busiest highways.
In 1997, Ennis Cosby flew to Los Angeles to meet friends. Ennis Cosby, 27, a dyslexic graduate student in special education at Columbia University Teachers College, was driving his mother’s Mercedes-Benz convertible on Interstate 405 on January 16, that year, when he pulled off to Skirball Center Drive to change a flat tire.
Ennis Cosby then called Stephanie Crane, the lady he was seeing, to assist him. According to reports, she pulled over behind Ennis Cosby and begged him to call a tow truck to assist them, but Ennis Cosby then stated he could change the tire himself. Crane returned to her car and waited. Mikhail Markhasev, a Ukrainian-born teenager, came approached her window, while she was waiting for Ennis. Markhasev, 18, and two friends were using their phones at a neighboring park-and-ride lot when they noticed Crane and Ennis Cosby were in distress.
Markhasev approached Crane’s car, intending to rob her. She drove away, terrified. Markhasev then approached Ennis Cosby to rob him, but when Ennis Cosby took too long to pull out the money he had on him, he was shot and killed.
At the time, Ennis Cosby’s terrible death shook his family and the entire world. The case was closed thanks to a tip from one of his killer’s former friends. “He was my hero,” Bill Cosby remarked after his son’s death in an interview.
Ennis Cosby was born on April 15, 1969, at a period when his father was a well-known comedian. Bill Cosby began his stand-up act in Philadelphia bars and then in New York City at The Gaslight Cafe in 1961 before starting one of the most successful comedies of all time, The Cosby Show, in the 1980s.
Bill Cosby’s son Ennis Cosby, who was happy to have a son after having two daughters, became the basis for the character of Theo Huxtable on the hit TV comedy “The Cosby Show,” which aired from 1984 to 1992. Theo Huxtable overcame his learning handicap as a student. His story was similar to that of Ennis Cosby, who took special lessons after being diagnosed with dyslexia. He went on to excel academically at Morehouse College in Atlanta before transferring to Teachers College at Columbia University in New York City.
When he was killed, he was working on his Ph.D. in special education.
According to The Washington Post, Ennis Cosby said in an essay, “I believe in chances, thus I do not give up on people or children.”
Following the murder of Ennis Cosby in January 1997, the National Enquirer offered $100,000 for any information on his killing. That’s when Christopher So, a former Markhasev acquaintance, called the cops and said Markhasev had been talking about shooting a nigger. Police arrested Markhasev in March and later discovered the gun he was accused of using and discarding. The gun was wrapped in a hat with DNA evidence linking Markhasev to the crime. He was found guilty of first-degree murder in July 1998 and sentenced to life in prison.
Ennis Cosby’s family blamed his death on American prejudice. “All African-Americans, despite of their intellectual and economic achievements, have been and continue to be at risk in America simply because of their skin colors,” wrote Ennis Cosby’s mother, Camille, in July 1998.
Markhasev was also denying shooting Ennis Cosby at the time. In 2001, he admitted his guilt and stated that he was discontinuing his appeals process “since it is founded on falsehood and dishonesty.” He also expressed regret to the Cosby family.