Actor Dennis Cole’s son is gunned down for $50.

Joe with his arm around his father, Dennis Cole. Both had long hair and are smiling

Joe and his father, Dennis Cole








Composite sketch of an african american male with a beard and wearing a hat

Sketch of suspect

Gender: Male
DOB: 1966 to 1971
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 165 lbs.
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Black
Remarks: A $25,000 reward is being offered in this case


Actor Dennis Cole has appeared in dozens of television shows like “The Young and The Restless” and “The Fall Guy.” His son, Joe, might have followed in his father’s footsteps. But on December 19, 1991, at the age on 29, Joe Cole was murdered, and his killer is still unknown.

To this day, Dennis Cole is still haunted by the crime:

“There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him. And we’ve always shared things,… and it’s like I have no one to call up and say hey, “Hey Joe, guess what happened?’ And he would do the same thing with me. And it’s like a part of your heart was just taken and pulled out.”

A homeless man sleeping on the floor against a brick wall. He's next to a shopping cart full of trash

He documented the lives of homeless war vets

The beachfront community of Venice, California, is the scene of a year-round street party. For decades, the area has been home to writers, artists and musicians. Joe Cole, an actor and a photographer, fit right in.

In Venice, Joe was documenting the lives of homeless Vietnam veterans. Joe’s long-time friend Henry Rollins – a writer and lead singer of the Rollins Band—helped with the project:

“Those men you see talking to themselves, standing next to pay phones on streets, he would bond with these people. Where they wouldn’t give you the time of day, they would tell the story of their lives to Joe.”

Rollins and Cole often shopped at an all-night market just a block from their house. On December 19, 1991, they were returning home, as usual, with their bags of groceries when two men suddenly shoved guns in their faces. One robber pushed Rollins to his knees. The other forced Joe to the ground. Henry Rollins recalls:

“The guy who was on me said, ‘If you yell or if you scream, I’m going to blow your head off.’ And I said, ‘Okay.’”

Suspect in a hat aims his gun at someone

The killers vanished into the night

When the robbers found that the men had only $50 between them, they said they wanted to be taken to their house. Rollins says that he thought that he and Cole were going to be executed while the men robbed their home. As they walked in the front door, Rollins heard gun shots behind him. He ran through the house, out the back door, and down an ally. He found a phone and called police.

The police arrived within minutes, but Joe Cole was dead. The killers had vanished into the night.

Detective Bill Cox of Los Angeles Police Department, Pacific Division, is lead investigator on the case and hopes someone will come forward with information:

“My partner and myself have put in thousands of hours interviewing hundreds of people. Criminals always talk and they talk to other people. Somebody knows something out there that happened to Joe Cole.”

Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season eight with Robert Stack and in season one with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina.




  1. Randy Martinez

    This case can be solved! A singer from the band Riot was killed inAtlanta and it was not solved until 15 years later. His name was Rhett Forrester fir those who are interested


  2. Charles

    It’s really odd that they just decided to kill the guy in cold blood for $50 on the front porch in full view. Why not indoors? Possible of course, but odd. I think Henry probably took off running and it spooked them and he doesn’t want to be framed as selfish or a coward.


  3. Nathan

    Just look at the case of Corey Pujols, he got away with murder because the person he murdered called him a name.

    Maybe this Joe Cole called the guy a n***** and that’s why the police made no attempt to find these guys.

    We need to make it against the law to be lurking outside at night, simple as that. We also need to make sure murders face painful and rapid execution, not a couple of years of house arrest, and certainly not a rewarding life of largesse like these killers likely enjoyed, seeing as they were never caught.


  4. Bryan

    I know Henry Rollins wrote a song about this murder called Volume 4 on his popular album “Weight”. Sad circumstances around the death of Joe Cole.


  5. Marlana Ferro

    Joe Cole was the son of Dennis Cole and Sally Bergeron. He was provided an affluent upbringing surrounded by successful moguls and captains of industry. Taking a sincere interest in the plight of homeless veterans and other humane causes is one thing, but why would he choose to reside in such a dangerous neighborhood for intel? Was there another solution for him to achieve that end? I don’t claim to know anything with regards to Henry being involved in some insidious set-up, but the rumor mill is mere conjecture. Without evidence, it’s simply a theory. Why, though, would he risk his safety to document homeless veterans? Again, was there another way to proceed? That never made any sense. Also, why didn’t Rick Rubin invite them over to his side of town? If he wanted to listen to a demo of ‘The End of Silence,’ why didn’t he arrange to meet elsewhere? Why was he so conspicuous? Really, a Rolls Royce and portable phone? That didn’t make sense, either. Seriously, there were other options.


    • Joe

      You raise good questions. Rollins isn’t exactly what he portrays himself to be; more of a highly connected social engineer that some “punk” from nowhere. Though it predates the punk scene, you might like Dave McGowan’s book “Weird Scenes from the Canyon”. In it he shows how almost all of the famous musicians of the 1960s had high level connections that they didn’t like to publicize.



    The comments about this being an inside job and Henry Rollins being in on it, are pissing me off. So because he escaped you think he must have been on it? Are you insane? Anyone here who thinks they would have taken on two armed thugs who just shot someone, is trippin’, you would have done exactly what Henry did, you would have got the hell out of there.


  7. Bill Blaski

    I once watched Henry Rollins with a buddy named Keith. Keith brought a friend of his named Jason. Jason knee about Joe, but Keith or I didn’t know about Joe. Now I find out Joes dad is Dennis, who would’ve thought that Henry would’ve been this successful after the ordeal he went thru.


  8. KD Grayson

    My Uncle, an actor, Kurt Grayson was best friends with actor Reid Smith, Reid Smith (no relation to Jaclynn)
    was dating Jackie prior to Dennis Cole marrying her.
    Jaclynn was devastated by Joe’s senseless murder as was his Father Dennis Cole.
    The odds are the murderer is dead today as a result of karma.
    I never personally knew Henry Rollins but liked Black Flag, I knew about Joe Cole because of his Father marrying Jackie, she maintained a close relationship with Joe after she divorced Dennis Cole.
    I beat Reid Smith arm wrestling at Jackie Smiths Coldwater canyon mansion in 1975, I was 14, she was very elegant and sophisticated and of course very beautiful.
    Joe was important to many people, RIP.


  9. runaway

    I lived on Venice Canals in early 2000’s and was robbed at knifepoint at night while taking a walk on the Canalswith my wife. The perpetrator was clearly from Oakwood (walking distance to Canals) and when he didn’t get the quick payday he was hoping for he ran (my wife’s screaming may have had something to do with that)…..we were lucky that night, unlike Mr. Cole and Mr. Rollins. Oakwood was not a “rough area” in 1991, it was a gang-infested battle zone that everyone in that area with any common sense avoided at all costs (not the hipster haven it is today). Taking that and the Rick Rubin incident discussed here into account, the conspiracy theories espoused by many on this board ring hollow if you ask me……


  10. jerry kline

    I don’t know what happened and neither does anyone else who wasn’t present. But I’m guessing it went down like this: Henry ran once he got inside the house. The pissed off gunmen took out their anger on Dennis Cole’s son. That makes more sense than any version.





  12. JC

    For those who think this was an “inside job”, get to know Henry Rollins before you spout your cheezy-poof fingered, basement-of-your-moms-house keyboard-warrior conspiracy bull. These men were best friends, close as brothers. And for the Internet tough guys who would’ve “gone and checked on Joe rather than run”, you are the same ones who would be laying in a puddle of piss on the ground after that gun went off. Henry has said many times “I’m no tough guy”. So what was he going to do to 2 armed assailants? Stand there and get killed? It’s called survival instinct. Anyone who knows anything about this case knows that once the neighborhood figured out who these guys were, it was only a matter of time before they got robbed. Hell, even Henry and Joe knew it would happen eventually.


  13. thinkingoutloud

    i agree with Louise! seems shady they only killed Joe and henry was able to get away. i think he was in on it or there’s more to the story. If i heard gunshots and i know my friend was behind me when it happened i would be curious to see what happened before running out of my house to call the cops. Henry didn’t even check on Joe before fleeing, it’s kind of messed up.

    maybe there was a struggle and the gun went off and killed joe or joe was wounded and they killed him after henry already fled. but it’s fishy henry left joe behind


  14. Anonymous

    Um, to all you people above who have some inchoate conspiracy theory, the murder was committed in a dangerous part of L.A by violent, stupid, low-I.Q pavement apes, nothing more, nothing less.


  15. Concerned citizen

    I think the previous post shows that there is a serious lack of mental health monitoring in society


  16. Blue bird

    Why Did He Do It?


  17. Blue bird

    Listen up U Killer instead of killing that young Man U Should Have Grab A Female And Make Love To Her And Have Chidren But U Chose The Wrong Path! Why Did U Do It?


  18. Blue bird

    Instead of taking That young Man Out The man that Killed him Should Have Taken A Female And Have Sex With Her And Have Children I Would Like To See Him Try that With Me I can’t Have Childern I Had a Surgery 4 years ago But This is like The Cain And Abel Story Line! I Understand What He Is Is Going Through That Is So Sickening Well Have A Little Respect Have A Nice Day!


  19. Blue bird

    This is so Crazy And Creppy!


  20. just want to help

    Where can I submit a tip for this case?


  21. Eugene

    Two days before Joe was killed, Rick Rubin went to the house in his Rolls Royce.
    Word went around that Joe and Henry must have a lot of money in the house.
    Rollins wrote in his journal that after Rubin turned up flashing his wealth, he knew the house was going to get done over by the locals.
    What he didn’t expect was murder.


  22. Derrick

    I honestly think that the two were specifically targeted. What likely happened was that word spread around the neighborhood that they had hollywood connections which attracted the robbers. Unfortunately I don’t believe this case will ever be solved. The community has long forgotten about this case and the robbers are likely dead or in jail.


  23. Billy bonsack

    Forget any one who thinks Henry had anything to do with the robbery or the senseless killing of his “other half”/ best friend Joe Cole. From what I have heard or read Rollins “heard a stifle then bang”. It sounds like Joe was trying to protect him and his friend Henry. This doesn’t sound like an inside job to me. They did live in a criminal area of Venice.


  24. The Detective

    I don’t think it was a robbery, the robbers never looted the house, even though they had the opportunity to. I think they were hired, probably by someone who didn’t like Joe or Dennis Cole, especially since they didn’t kill Henry. They took $50 to make the captors think it was a robbery. Another clue to this theory is the treatment of their targets. They forced Joe to the ground but told Henry to get on his knees. I also wouldn’t be suprised if they threatened Henry to falsify his statement to the police.


  25. Johnny

    The Joe Cole murder was senseless. He complied with the robbers giving him the money. Henry was very smart to run. His instincts kicked in when the robber shot. Sounds like an inside job from the community. People probably talking Joe Cole was the son of famous actor Dennis Cole. Thought he had money too. The robbers angry only 50$ on the two men. I think this case can be solved. Maybe, some of the Hollywood types can put up 100,000$ reward or larger to shake something loose.


    • Louise

      Not sure if they caught anyone for Joe’s murder but I too feel it’s a inside job done from those he help I do feel that also Rollins was involved and set Joe up he should be investigated. H


  26. Wendi Morrison

    Joe Cole was an amazingly deep and profound human! I loved him very much xoxox


  27. john j

    I am sure that karma caught up to the killer.


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