Caregiver Becomes Victim / Correction Officer Charged in Shooting

Newsday

November 8, 2000
By Sean Gardiner

When Correction Officer Van Griffen went into a coma four years ago after a horrific motorcycle crash, it was his pregnant girlfriend, Felicia Cosby, who helped nurse him back to health.

Monday night, it was Griffen who allegedly shot and killed Cosby, the mother of his 4-year-old daughter, in a fight over child support.

According to police, Griffen shot Cosby, 26, about 10:00 p.m. at her home on Foch Boulevard in South Jamaica. Griffen, 35, drove to the 105 th Precinct in Queens Village and turned himself in, officials said.

"This is just a total tragedy for this family. She was a good person. Everybody loved her, everybody's going to miss her," said one of Cosby's aunts who asked not to be named. "He was in a real bad accident a couple of years ago, and God gave him his life back and he took hers. That's very messed up, and I hope he rots in hell."

Cosby's family and Deputy Chief Joseph Reznick, head of Queens detectives, said the killing was the culmination of ongoing tensions between the couple over child support for their daughter.

"He confronted Ms. Cosby, and they got into an argument over child-support payments," Reznick said. "It was a very fast argument that escalated from verbal to gunshots very quickly."

Cosby apparently sensed that the situation was volatile before Griffen arrived at her home. Michelle Cosby, a cousin, said Felicia Cosby had pleaded with her younger sister, who was staying the night there, to keep her door open.

"She told her little sister, Shanesha, ÔKeep your door open,' because he [Griffen] was coming over and he was upset," Michelle Cosby said. "He came over and shortly after, they heard gunshots."

Michelle Cosby, 24, said family members told her four shots were heard and Griffen dropped the gun and left the house.

"At that point, Felicia had the phone in her hand. I don't know whether she was trying to call the police or what," Michelle Cosby said. "Her cousin David was upstairs, too. He came down and saw her lying there. He said she looked like she was sleeping."

After surrendering, Griffen, of 223-08 Linden Blvd., was taken to the 113 th Precinct station house and was charged in Cosby's slaying. Last night, he was awaiting arraignment on murder charges, locked up in the same Queens Criminal Court jail he not so long ago was assigned to guard, police said.

Relatives said Griffen, who was out of work with an injury since May, and Cosby's relationship was under a cloud from the beginning when the couple met five years ago in a diner.

"It's so sad, because I was there when they met," Michelle Cosby said. "I told her then that he's not for you, he's not your type. But all she did was love him; she loved him to the end."

Not long into their relationship, Griffen had the motorcycle accident. As Griffen law in a coma, Cosby's at by his side all night, " her cousin said. When he recovered, Cosby helped him with his therapy, Michelle Cosby said. After the birth of their daughter, Felicia, it became apparent that Griffen was not interested in being a parent, Michelle Cosby said.

"He didn't want a relationship and didn't want to care for a child," Michelle Cosby said. "Many a night, she cried and would say, "I've got to leave him."

The issue of child support became a flash point when Felicia recently quit her job as a lawyer's secretary to attend business school full time, with the aim of one day opening her own day-care center.

"She would always have to tell him, ÔI need this' or ÔI need that,' and he would never come through. And he was always complaining about it," Michelle Cosby said. "She kept telling him, Listen, if I can't get help from you, I'm going to have to go to court.' She finally went through with that, and I guess he winded up having to give her more than he ever intended to give her."

Yesterday, as Cosby's large family gathered to mourn, the irony of her once nursing that man accused of killing her hit home. "She was my best friend," Michelle Cosby said. "It's like he stole her. He stole her from my family and he stole her from me. God saved his life, and he took hers."

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