Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder in Miami: Stan and Joyce Cohen

The Investigation

The probe into Stanley Cohen's murder got off to a rocky start.

Less than an hour after the investigation had begun at the Cohen home, Joyce ordered police to vacate the premises. Cops and prosecutors were forced to get a search warrant, which delayed the gumshoes until late that afternoon.

The next morning's Miami Herald carried a story of the Cohen homicide under the headline "Prominent Builder Murdered in Home; Wife Keeps Police Outside for More Than Eight Hours."

Prosecutor David Waksman
Prosecutor David Waksman

Prosecutor David Waksman told reporters, "This is the first time I've been asked to prepare a search warrant because the widow would not allow the police to come into her house to conduct a crime scene search."

Joyce's peculiar behavior made her the prime suspect, of course. But the case was not destined for quick and easy resolution.

Stanley Cohen had been killed with four .38-caliber gunshots to his head. One grazed his scalp, two entered from the left side and one from the right.

Police found the murder weapon that afternoon in a stand of ferns in the Cohens' yard. It was Stanley's own Smith & Wesson revolver.

The murder weapon.
The murder weapon.

Joyce Cohen explained that Stanley had handled the gun at about midnight on the night he was killed when she heard a noise and asked him to investigate. She said he searched the house and yard but found nothing.

Joyce surmised that he left the gun on his nightstand, and the two "shadowy figures" she saw in the house used it to kill him.

But inside the house they found a facial tissue that contained both gunpowder residue and Joyce's nose mucous.

There were other problems in her account.

An ear witness said he heard four gunshots at 3 a.m., even though Joyce did not report the shooting until nearly 2 hours later. The medical examiner estimated the time of death at 3 a.m.

Dominic Dunne's Power, Priviledge and Justice