NEW YORK — Speaking with obvious anguish, entertainer Bill Cosby said in a network television interview Monday that he wants an airtight case when police catch his son's killer so there will be no lingering doubts as in the O.J. Simpson murder trial.
"When they find him, I want it laid out. I don't want, well, they took the blood and they dropped it and it's a sock and everything," the comedian said, referring to controversy over the handling of evidence in the Simpson criminal case. For his first interview since the unsolved killing of his son Ennis Cosby, who returned to work on his CBS situation comedy Monday, summoned Dan Rather, anchor of the "CBS Evening News." Portions of the 2 1/2-hour interview were broadcast on two CBS news shows Monday and additional segments will be aired later, network officials said.
Ennis Cosby, 27, was shot Jan. 16 as he was changing a flat tire on a dark road above Bel-Air.
Cosby acknowledged in the broadcast interview that he had had a "rendezvous" with the mother of Autumn Jackson, a 22-year-old Los Angeles-area woman who was recently arrested on suspicion of attempting to extort $24 million from Cosby. In the extortion case, which authorities have said is unrelated to the Ennis Cosby shooting, Jackson said she would tell a tabloid newspaper that she was Bill Cosby's illegitimate daughter unless he paid her the cash, federal prosecutors charge.
"The mother told me--the woman I had a rendezvous with--told me I am the father," Cosby said. "On the birth certificate it is not my name."
"I had not spoken to the mother during her pregnancy, nor her delivery, nor some 14 months until we finally spoke," Cosby continued. "Never--she never called me, and then one day when I called her for a second rendezvous, she came and made the announcement."
Cosby, in the interview, emphatically denied that he was the child's father.
Jackson, who was arrested two days after the slaying, was freed Monday night on $250,000 bond. For the time being, said her lawyer, Robert Baum, she will live with her grandmother in Northern California.
As she left the federal courthouse in Manhattan on Monday evening, Jackson said, "It's nice."
Baum said his client would not respond at this time to Cosby's statements. "There is a lot that can be said, but will not be said at this time," Baum said.
Federal agents arrested Jackson, along with Jose Medina, 51, in the New York office of Cosby's lawyers. Medina remained in jail Monday.
Under tight security, Bill Cosby returned to work Monday at the Kaufman Astoria Studios in New York City to resume production of the TV show he was preparing to tape on Jan. 16 when he learned that his son had been slain. At Cosby's request the taping Monday was conducted without its usual live audience.
In the interview conducted Sunday, the comedian told Rather that his wife, Camille, is unable to accept that their son's killer has yet to be caught.
"There is a difference in this house. Mrs. Cosby wants this man--I mean she verbalizes she wants him. She wants him now. She refuses to accept the fact that this 'Thing' is still out there," he said. "She doesn't accept the fact that nobody comes forward to help with the truth."
"I have always imagined, if somebody killed one of my kids, I mean, I would go get five .357 magnums. That's the way I feel," Cosby said. "But . . . then you start to think about the person that you love, who is gone. And then that part of them comes to you and says, 'Hey, Dad, you have to go back to work, man. You know people want to laugh. You have to go back to work.' And you start to laugh, his spirit from there wouldn't allow us to walk off and be anything other than what he wants."
Cosby also poignantly described his son's burial on the family's estate in Massachusetts. He told how his daughters and Ennis' friends carried the coffin in the cold from a barn down to an herb garden.
"We picked up the coffin. There's about 10, 11 people just putting their hands on it, and we carried it down the hill and we set it down," Cosby said. "Then we joined hands . . . and I set the coffin down over the hole and I said, 'We now want to give praise to God for allowing us to know him--not for giving him to us, but just letting us know him.' "
At that point in the interview, Cosby gestured toward a painting of Ennis in his graduation cap and gown and wept.
The interview took place after Cosby called Rather's wife, Jean, at home Sunday. She reached Rather at Madison Square Garden, where he was watching a New York Knicks basketball game.
The CBS anchor said Cosby told him, "I want to talk. Bring a camera."
When Rather arrived at the Kaufman Astoria Studio in Queens, Cosby took him into his office.
"There were no ground rules," Rather said. "He said, 'Ask me anything you want.' He looked me in the eye and said, 'Anything.' "
Rather said at that point that he knew Cosby wanted to talk about Jackson's claim that she was his illegitimate daughter.