Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

Joe (left) and Dennis Cole (right)

Real Name: Joseph Dennis Cole
Nicknames: Joe
Location: Venice Beach, California
Date: December 19, 1991


Details: Joe Cole was the son of actor Dennis Cole and the best friend of actor/musician Henry Rollins. He and Henry lived in a home in the predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhood of Oakwood within Venice Beach, California; it was known as the "Ghost Town" portion of Venice and was notorious for crime and lack of safety. Joe and Henry lived in there because they planned to document the plight of homeless Vietnam veterans in the area.
On December 19, 1991, Joe and Henry attended a rock music concert at the famous Whisky A Go-Go night club in nearby West Hollywood and then stopped at an all-night market. When they arrived home they were confronted by two armed intruders. One shoved Henry to his knees while the other forced Joe to lay face down on the ground. The gunmen told them not to scream or they would be killed. As they were on the ground the gunmen took what little money they had, which was less than $50.

A composite of the killer

The gunmen were angered at the lack of money Joe and Henry had, so they demanded them to get money from their house and give it to them. The gunmen allowed Henry to enter the house, but shot Joe point-blank outside. They also shot at Henry once as his back was turned, but missed. Then they fled on foot into the night. Henry knew they had done so, so he quickly called police. Then he went outside and discovered Joe with a single gunshot wound to the head. By time the police arrived, the gunmen had vanished, and Joe had died as a result of the shooting.
Despite interviews with hundreds of people in the area, the suspects are still on the loose over twenty years later. Investigators believe they might still live in the Oakwood area of Venice Beach even after all these years. There's still a $25,000 reward available for their capture.
Suspects: Both suspects are African-American males who were in their twenties or thirties in 1991. Today, they would be in their forties or fifties. One of the suspects (shown in the composite above) is approximately 5'11" and 165 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the May 17, 1996 episode.
Results: Unsolved. Sadly, Dennis Cole passed away in November 2009 at the age of sixty-nine without learning of any new details to the case. However, according to unconfirmed reports, a man resembling Joe's killer has been spotted but never identified.