Happily Never After

Beautiful Joyce Cohen lived the good life. Her husband, multi-millionaire Miami builder, Stanley Cohen, gave her a Coconut Grove mansion, several fur coats and her own private jet. Joyce A-listed many fine nightclubs. Every night was a party. Joyce grew up in 27 foster families and an Illinois orphanage, named St Vincent Orphanage. Joyce was transferred among 27 foster homes after her stay at St Vincent and was physically and sexually abused as a child. She was unloved and unable to bond with others. As an adult, Joyce went to Miami and soon caught the eye of Stan Cohen. In spite of the 17 years in age between them, Joyce and Stan fell in love. For Joyce, she found the father figure she’d never had. Stan however had been married 3 times before Joyce. Joyce wasn’t concerned. Instead, she revelled in her Cinderella lifestyle.

Joyce worked hard to keep Stan happy. She took care of his parents. In 1980s Miami, cocaine was the drug people were addicted to and killing for. Joyce and Stan installed a high-tech alarm and got a guard dog. Gary and Jerry Cohen, Stan’s sons, didn’t approve of Joyce who was close in age to the two boys. They decided Joyce married their father strictly for his money.

Joyce and Stan took frequent skiing trips together. In Steambrook Springs, Joyce left her shy persona behind and became a sophisticated, wealthy woman. Joyce became the toast of Colorado’s ski crowd. Frequently, Joyce was seen drunk in fine restaurants, embarrassing her husband. Stan returned his wife to Miami and put her in charge of a restaurant in Coconut Grove. Joyce blossomed into a professional, popular fashionista even as her relationship with Stanley deteriorated. Stan had an affair and as a result, they hadn’t slept together in two years. On the night of the murder, Stan was shot in the head and killed during a home invasion robbery, however nothing was stolen from the house.

Joyce’s story revealed many holes and inconsistencies. Joyce became defensive and told police to leave her house. Even the coroner had to leave Stanley’s body behind. 7 hours later, the police secured a warrant to remove his body. In the bathroom, police found a tissue with mucous, and gunshot residue in it. The dog was found locked up and the house alarm was deliberately turned off. An inquiry began into Joyce’s private life. It was discovered that Joyce’s friends and Joyce herself liked to use cocaine. Stan had threatened divorce due to her drug use. Stan’s children believed Joyce was responsible for their father’s death. The two boys moved to protect Stan’s assets: the house, cars and bank accounts were absconded from Joyce. After 13 years, the little orphan girl was back where she started: with nothing.

The prosecutor however couldn’t indite without a witness or physical evidence proving Joyce had the gun in her hand the night he was shot. Months later, a felon came forward with information on Stanley’s murder. Frank Zucarello, a home invader and convicted felon, claimed he knew Joyce and Stanley Cohen. He claimed Joyce hired him and two other home invader felons, Thomas Joslin and Anthony Caracciolo, to kill her husband. For their troubles they were to receive $150,000 worth of cocaine. However the other two felons denied this statement and prosecutors didn’t move on Zucarello’s information. Finally, two years after Stan’s murder, police flew to Chesapeake, Va., where Joyce was living in a trailer park with her new husband. Police arrested Joyce for her husband’s murder. The trial began on   1989.  If convicted, Joyce faced the electric chair however Zucarello would receive 474 less days in prison for cooperating with the prosecution. For their part, Caracciolo eventually received 40 years in prison (since he was the alleged trigger man) and Joslin got 30.

Zuucarello admitted on the witness stand that the murder took place at 2 a.m.  However the coroner placed the time of the murder closer to 5:30 a.m. One of Joyce’s neighbours came forward and claimed a house guest heard gunshots that killed Stan Cohen and the shots took place at 2:30 a.m. He stated he heard 4 shots and that they were from a .38 revolver. The jury retired to make a decision about Joyce Cohen’s guilt. It was a difficult decision considering they had conflicting information about the time of Stan’s murder, motive, and a felon as a witness but in 3 days they found Joyce guilty of first degree murder.  Joyce was sentenced to 25 years to life in the Broward County Correctional Institutional Facility for Women. Joyce’s experiences in foster homes led to an intense fear of abandonment, possibly leading to Stanley’s murder. **Some links in this blog are not about Joyce Cohen, but reflect similar situations**

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