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Old 11-29-2015, 07:13 PM
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Joseph Cole

Real Name: Joseph Cole
Nicknames: Joe Cole
Location: Venice Beach, California

Date: December 19, 1991

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Details: Joseph Cole was the son of television actor Dennis Cole and the best friend of actor/musician Henry Rollins. Joseph Cole and Henry Rollins lived in a home in the predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhood of Oakwood within Venice Beach, California; the neighborhood was known as the "Ghost Town" portion of Venice and was notorious for crime and lack of safety. Henry and Joseph lived in the shady neighborhood 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 NightClub in nearby West Hollywood and then stopped at an all-night market before they headed home. When the two arrived home they were confronted by two armed intruders. One robber shoved Henry to his knees while the other forced Joe to lay face down on the ground. The gunmen told the two not scream or they would be killed. As they terrified men were on the ground the robbers took what little money the friends had, which was less than $50.

The gunmen were angered at the lack of money Joe and Henry had, so they demanded the two friends 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 fled, so he quickly called police, then he went outside and discovered his friend Joe with a single gunshot wound to the head. By time 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 killers are still on the loose over twenty years later. Investigators believe the killers might still live in the Oakwood area of Venice Beach even after all these years. There's still a $25,000 reward available for the capture of the killers.

Suspects: Both suspects are African-American males who are in their 40's or 50's today and were in their 20's or 30's at the time of shooting in 1991. One of the killers is approximately 5'11" and 165 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.

Extra Notes: This segment originally aired on the May 17, 1996 episode of

Unsolved Mysteries


Results: Unsolved. Sadly, Dennis Cole passed away in November 2009 at the age of 69 without learning of any new details to the case. However, a man resembling Joe's killer has been spotted but never identified.


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Joseph Dennis "Joe" Cole (April 10, 1961 – December 19, 1991) was an American writer, author, actor and roadie for Black Flag and Rollins Band. Cole's father was actor Dennis Cole by his first wife, Sally Bergeron.
Cole also worked as a roadie for Hole, filming the group's 1991 tour performances, and appeared in several films including Raymond Pettibon's The Book of Manson,

where he also has a cinematography credit. He is noted for his friendship with singer Henry Rollins.

Cole and Rollins were assaulted by armed robbers in December 1991 outside their shared Venice Beach, California, home on Brooks Avenue in the Oakwood district. They had attended a Hole concert at the Whisky a Go Go and were returning home after having stopped at an all-night grocery store when two armed men – described as African-Americans in their 20s – approached them demanding money. Angry that Rollins and Cole had only $50 between them, the gunmen ordered the two men to go inside their house for more cash. Rollins entered at gunpoint. However, Cole was killed outside after being shot in the face at close range while Rollins escaped out the back door and alerted the police. The murder remains unsolved.

In a 1992 Los Angeles Times interview, Rollins revealed he kept a plastic container full of soil soaked with Cole's blood. Rollins said, "I dug up all the earth where his head fell – he was shot in the face – and I've got all the dirt here, and so Joe Cole's in the house. I say good morning to him every day. I got his phone, too, so I got adirect line to him. So that feels good."He is remembered in the Sonic Youth songs "JC" and "100%" on their album Dirty.

A book of Cole's collected writings, primarily tour journals, was published posthumously and titled Planet Joe. It describes his time touring in the 1980s, in particular with Black Flag.

Henry Rollins included Cole's story in his spoken word performances.
Posthumous works[edit]
Planet Joe (book) (1997 2.13.61) ISBN 9781880985090

Raves – God's Movie, Volume 1 starring Joe Cole (video). According to Rolling Stone magazine, after Cole's death, hundreds of hours of interviews Cole had taped with "flamboyant street characters" in Venice Beach where edited into an hour of "primo footage" that the magazine described as, "An unflinching look at the American dream gone amok."

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  #2  
Old 11-30-2015, 01:03 AM
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Re: Joseph Cole

Never knew that about Rollins - you'd think by '91 Rollins would've had enough dough to live somewhere decent. What a big motherfucker to get rolled (I guess guns don't care how built you are) and damn lucky he didn't get shot.

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Old 12-12-2015, 06:20 PM
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Re: Joseph Cole

I read an article in the late 90's that said Rollins bolted for the door, that's why they shot.

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Old 12-29-2015, 03:07 PM
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Re: Joseph Cole

This severely affected Henry Rollins. He talked about it a lot and it is in some of his songs. I doubt they will ever solve this one sadly.

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Old 05-11-2016, 11:29 PM
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Re: Joseph Cole

Yeah, Cole's dad died without ever getting justice for his son, to me that's sad.

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