Seattle Police Re-examine Kurt Cobain Death

by on March 21, 2014 · 1 comment

in Culture, History

Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain (1967 – 1994) performing with Nirvana on MTV Unplugged at Sony Studios in New York City, November 18, 1993. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)

By Casey McNerthney and Amy Clancy / KIRO 7 

Nearly 20 years after Nirvana lead singer Kurt Cobain was found dead in his home near Lake Washington, Seattle police have reexamined the case.

Last month, police developed four rolls of film that had been sitting for years in a Seattle police evidence vault. The 35 mm film was processed by the King County Sheriff’s Office photo lab under high security.

Though the pictures have a slight green tint because of deterioration, police say they more clearly show the scene than the earlier Polaroid photos taken by investigators.

The final investigation report has not been completed, and the images of Cobain dead at the scene will not be released, police say.

KIRO 7 has obtained an image from the scene that has not previously been made public. Tonight at 11, we will show that image on KIRO 7 Eyewitness News Eleven at 11 and explain why police wanted to examine it as part of the investigation.

The morning of April 8, 1994, Veca Electric employee Gary Smith went to Cobain’s home at 171 Lake Washington Boulevard East to do electrical work.

“I noticed something on the floor and I thought it was a manikin,” Smith told KIRO 7 at the time. “So I looked a little closer and geez, that’s a person. I looked a little closer and I could see blood and an ear and a weapon laying on his chest.”

The medical examiner determined Cobain had killed himself three days earlier – only days after he had left a rehab facility.

Before he was shot, police said Cobain had a lethal dose of heroin. The syringes Cobain used and the heroin kit was kept in the Seattle police evidence unit and was part of the re-investigation along with the previously undeveloped film.

On KIRO 7 Eyewitness News Eleven at 11, we ask the lead detective about the evidence and why it was kept for years, even though the initial investigation determined it was a suicide.

Smith, the electrician, found a suspected suicide note atop planting soil in the greenhouse.

“I only read the bottom lines,” Smith told KIRO 7 in 1994. The “bottom two lines said, ‘I love you, I love you’ to someone.”

On March 18, 1994 – less than a month before Cobain was found dead – Seattle police were called to the Lake Washington home after Kurt “locked himself in a room,” and said he was going to kill himself, according to a police report. Police were also told he “had a gun in the room.”

But Cobain told police he was not suicidal and didn’t want to kill himself. However, police said after the 1994 investigation that his death was clearly a suicide.

Someone at Smith’s electrician company tipped then-KXRX radio DJ Marty Riemer, who was the first to announce the musician’s death, which the medical examiner determined was a suicide.

More than 7,000 mourners packed Seattle Center two days later for a public memorial, where a recording was played of Love reading Cobain’s suicide note. She also attended the memorial and gave some of his clothes to fans.

Last year, a Seattle police department spokeswoman said the department gets at least one request per week to reopen the investigation, mostly through Twitter.

The public affairs unit keeps the basic incident report on file because of the number of requests, and police have said no other Seattle police case has received similar attention over two decades.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Gail Powell March 24, 2014 at 7:09 pm

The best thing to do that would honor Kurt Cobain’s memory 20 years after his tragic death would be a reopening of his so-called “suicide.” A fresh look at the evidence seems like a good idea to me. I hope that when Nirvana is installed in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, the two remaining members of the band ask for a new investigation of Cobain’s death.


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