The trail to the killer of Ennis Cosby is growing faint. The outrage over his death has been muted by time, in a city where more than two slayings occur every day.
Exactly a month ago, the son of comedian Bill Cosby was shot to death off a freeway off-ramp in the Santa Monica Mountains, as he changed a flat tire on his Mercedes-Benz.
And since then, detectives say they’ve made little progress in finding the killer, despite the some 500 phoned-in tips and hundreds of thousands of dollars offered as a reward.
“It’s pretty frustrating,” said Los Angeles police Detective Bert Luper, lead investigator on the case. “We have a lot of clues, but when it comes down to it, there isn’t much to work on.”
The Cosbys have hired a private investigator, Gavin DeBecker, a specialist in stalking, security and domestic violence whose celebrity clientele has included Michael J. Fox and Theresa Saldana.
A family spokesman said the Cosbys still have faith in the Los Angeles Police Department.
“What I want to stress, he has not been hired to launch his own investigation,” said Cosby spokesman David Brokaw.
“He has been hired to help assist the Cosby family in working with the police, and getting a better understanding of what they have been able to accomplish and what the limitations are,” Brokaw said.
Luper declined to comment on the Cosbys’ decision to hire an investigator. “That’s a decision by the family. You have to defer to what they want to do,” he said.
As for the Cosbys, Brokaw said Bill Cosby has re-immersed himself in his work, his new CBS-TV sitcom “Cosby.”
“Obviously, a month doesn’t blunt the grief and tragedy of the loss of a son,” he added.
Cosby’s wife, Camille, remains grief-struck.
“She has expressed her incomprehension that this killer is wandering loose, and has not been apprehended,” Brokaw said. “That is certainly on her mind.”
Brokaw said that the Cosby family has received more than 35,000 pieces of mail since the death of their only son.
The handsome 27-year-old was shot just days before he was to return to New York where he was a student in the doctoral program at Columbia University’s Teachers College.
A composite of the gunman was made with the help of the key witness to the slaying, a 47-year-old woman whom Cosby had been driving to meet that night in a Los Angeles suburb.
When the tire went flat, he called her on his cellular phone and she arrived to illuminate the road with her headlights. She told police that when she arrived a man tapped on her window.
Scared, she drove off, returning a short time later to find Cosby dead.
With the help of tabloid newspapers, some $300,000 in reward money has been offered, as well as $25,000 offered through the city.
LAPD spokesman Cmdr. Tim McBride said a local pay phone company has plans to post the suspect’s composite on the advertising on pay phones. “They still have leads, they are following it,” McBride said. “We added four detectives to handle the clues coming in.”
He said that more than 1,000 phone calls have resulted in more than 500 clues.
The tire on the Mercedes-Benz has been sent to an expert at the California Highway Patrol, in hopes of revealing whether any foul play led to the flat, McBride said.
While police struggle to solve the case, a foundation set up in Ennis Cosby’s name to tackle language-related learning difficulties is doing extremely well.
“Ennis was the teacher in every sense of the word, in and out of the classroom,” said Phillip Caputo, a longtime friend of Ennis Cosby’s.
“The foundation is designed, as we go through the process of its formation … to follow the dream of Ennis Cosby.” xxxx COSBY FOUNDATION A foundation has been set up in Ennis Cosby’s name to increase early detection and compassionate understanding of dyslexia and other language-related difficulties. The address is Hello Friend/Ennis William Cosby Foundation, P.O. Box 512170, Los Angeles, Calif. 90051-0170.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.