Ten Years Since Nirvana – Kurt Cobain: Murder Or Suicide?

(Editor’s notes: Information for this article was taken from the Web site, justiceforkurt.com, which has utilized a plethora of information in examining this issue. Similar information can be found in a new book (released this week) by Who Killed Kurt Cobain? authors Ian Halperin and Max Wallace, Love & Death: The Murder of Kurt Cobain. The authors’ appearance on CNN, which occurred after this column was submitted to 411mania, can be seen here in streaming video.)

Introduction

On April 1st, 1994, Kurt Cobain checked himself out of a detox clinic in Los Angeles and flew himself home to Seattle. Arriving in Seattle, Cobain quickly obtained bullets for a shotgun that a friend of his had purchased for him a couple of days earlier, citing security concerns. On April 4th, Courtney Love, Cobain’s wife, filed a missing persons report for Kurt, claiming to be concerned about his well being. Four days later, his body was discovered by an electrician who was sent to install a security system at the house Cobain was staying at, a victim of an apparent self inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Ever since, rumors have continued to circulate that Cobain’s death wasn’t a suicide, but that his own wife had something to do with murdering him. You can visit https://www.securityinfo.com/ for more information.

Love was looking to be divorced from Kurt, and was also looking to lose millions from her rock star husband, as well as possible custody of her child. Cobain was looking to change his will and Courtney, upon hearing about this, as well as Kurt declining to perform at Lollapalooza that year, went batshit insane. Did Courtney have a motive for killing her husband? Yes. Did she have the means to carry it out, though? That’s uncertain, especially when you stop to consider that she was located in Los Angeles during the events that led to Kurt’s suicide.

However, Love wasn’t the only person who has been fingered by Cobain’s fans for having a part in his death. Michael DeWitt, who was the male nanny that lived at the house where Cobain’s body was eventually found, was also implicated as being part of a conspiracy to kill off Cobain. Interestingly enough, these two were also present when Cobain suffered an accident with a nearly fatal cocktail of Rohypnol and alcohol. Some would argue that this was the pair’s first attempt on Cobain’s life and it backfired horribly. From there, things get further muddled and confused, as information discovered after Cobain’s death was brought forth as proof that Courtney Love and Michael DeWitt were responsible for his death.

The Theory

Murder theorists believe that Courtney had arranged to have Cobain shot and killed while ‘taking care of business’ while in LA, having her geographical location used to excuse herself from any suspicion. DeWitt, meanwhile is believed to have been the triggerman who murdered Cobain, who took care of the dirty work while Love was down in Los Angeles.

This theory is given further merit due to the fact that DeWitt kept a rather low profile in between the time Cobain left the detox clinic in Los Angeles and when the body was finally discovered. In addition to that, both DeWitt and Love acted rather peculiar during this period in time. Their behavior included:

– Courtney calling up the Seattle Police Department attempting to file a missing persons report while pretending to be someone else.

– Courtney completely omitting any knowledge of Kurt’s whereabouts to a private eye she hired to track him down, after finding out from DeWitt that he was in Seattle. Tom Grant, the investigator who was hired by Love, is one of the most vocal supporters of the theory that Cobain was murdered.

– DeWitt telling Grant after Kurt turned up dead that he had checked the greenhouse where the body was finally found on the 8th of April, a few days after Cobain died. Why DeWitt didn’t think to mention the greenhouse before Kurt was found is believed to have been rather suspicious of the nanny.

– Courtney telling electrical contractors, very specifically, to start work on the alarm systems for the greenhouse.

– Additionally, Courtney refused to leave Los Angeles, citing the fact that she had ‘business’ to take care of, despite having her attorney say that she had absolutely no business to be taking care of down there. Love’s hesitation to have anything to do with the search for her supposedly suicidal, drug addled husband can also be seen as an implication of guilt on her behalf.

– DeWitt’s sudden departure from Seattle to California, so that he could be there to console Courtney. Again, another weird twist, as it would imply that there was communication going on between DeWitt and Courtney throughout this situation, and his leaving, coming hot off the heels of Courtney telling the contractors to begin work on the greenhouse just seemed to be a little bizarre.

– DeWitt wrote a note acting as though he hadn’t been in contact with Kurt at all after his flight from the detox center, yet that was not the case. Another attempt to try and cover his ass?

In addition to this, several other strange incidents occurred during the timeline leading up to Kurt’s death; one of Kurt’s credit cards was repeatedly used at different places around Seattle well after his death and handwriting found in his suicide note was found by some analysts to be inconsistent.

The police investigation, depending on whose opinion you solicit, was handled rather unprofessionally, as the murder theorists would have you believe that the homicide investigators who showed up at the greenhouse had already determined it was a suicide, and there was no need to investigate further.

One of the more interesting tidbits that came out of the police investigation was the lack of fingerprints on the shotgun that was used to kill Cobain, and, again, is trumpeted by the people who support the theory that Cobain was murdered as more proof to their claims. After all, a lack of prints on the gun would mean that it was wiped off by the killer(s), right?

Other Stuff

– El Duce, a singer for a band called the Mentors, was supposedly tapped by Courtney to kill Kurt for the princely sum of $25,000. However, this information came to light years after Cobain’s death, and hasn’t really been seriously looked at by the police or anyone else, for that matter. Tom Grant, the leading ‘expert’ on the murder theory has dismissed Duce’s claims, as Grant has stated that Duce’s story doesn’t match up with some information he has regarding the case that he’s kept private, and that Duce’s story doesn’t exactly add up (besides the fact that he died shortly after Kurt).

– Kristen Pfaff, the original bassist for Hole, is also part of a murder/suicide theory that involves Courtney Love. It’s believed that Courtney and Kristen had issues going on between them regarding the creative direction of the band, and Kristen was getting ready to leave the band and Hole behind her. June 15th, 1994 was to be her last day in Seattle, as she was leaving the next morning back out east to hook up with her old band. Sadly, she never made the journey back, as she was discovered the following morning in her bathroom, dead as a result of an apparent heroin overdose. Theorists like to claim that Pfaff’s death is indicative of Courtney’s malicious nature and that the circumstances surrounding Pfaff’s death happen to be quite similar to Cobain’s death. Thus, now not only is Courtney Love a one-time murderer, but she seems to be on the road to becoming a ruthless serial killer.

Analysis

All in all, there could be no arguing that Courtney Love was acting rather strangely when it came to the topic of her husband and his death. As well, the questions raised from the suicide note regarding the handwriting as well as what was going on with the credit card are interesting, but do they support a murder theory? Were the Seattle Police Department in cahoots with two drug users, one of whom was married to a hugely successful rock star? Was Courtney Love as psychopathic back in 1994 as she is now in 2004? Most importantly, was she capable of murdering her husband?

In short, no.

The first thing we have to take a look at is Courtney Love, as no matter what murder theory you happen to examine, she inevitably rests at the center of whatever web has been spun. Her behavior over the years has showcased her to be, in a nutshell, mentally unstable. She’s suffered from drug abuse of all kinds over the years and has come across as being an attention/media whore through her many varied and crazy public outings. With that said, it seems very improbable that she would be capable of masterminding a plot to kill off her husband and, as some believe, the bassist in her band.

It’s been well documented in the press and media over the years exactly how unstable Courtney Love is as a person. Her antics throughout the course of 2003 and continuing into the present are more than indicative of that. Courtney is not the sort of person who broods and schemes and tries to come up with a ‘plan’ like the theorists would have her believe. She’s unstable, and tends to lash out loudly and angrily when something displeases her. Her behavior regarding the Nirvana catalogue and the ensuing lawsuit that broke out between the two surviving members of Nirvana, Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, is testament to that. Courtney has also been known to e-mail members of the press and Webmasters when something displeases her. In short, this whole cloak and dagger plot that was concocted by Kurt’s fans does not seem to fall within Courtney’s normal methods of behavior at all. Hell, this is the girl who went absolutely bonkers in Trent Reznor’s hotel room when he rejected her advances. Like, immediately after being rejected by him. To give my own honest opinion, I do not think that Courtney is smart enough to have thought of something like this.

That’s talking only about Kurt and his death. To think that Courtney was capable of doing this twice is implausible. Especially with Kristen Pfaff’s death. Courtney had absolutely nothing to gain from having Kristen killed. There was no motive, beyond the two of them having problems with one another, and honestly, just about everyone in the entertainment industry has had a bone or two to pick with Ms. Love. Why then was Pfaff singled out as being Courtney’s murder victim? It was rather well known that Pfaff had taken Kurt’s death rather badly, and she was a known heroin abuser.

Yes, she had been through rehab, but going through rehab doesn’t necessarily make you drug free for life. Go ask Scott Weiland if you aren‘t convinced. No one questioned the rash of copycat suicides that Cobain’s fans had committed after his death, so why the controversy regarding Pfaff? Here we have an individual where a case could be made rather easily that she was not in her right mind (depressed about the death of a good friend, and going back into abusing drugs again), and could easily have been suicidal as a result of that. In addition to this, no proof has ever been brought forth by anyone to indicate that Pfaff’s death was anything BUT a suicide…speculation and conjecture is all that gets tossed around by people claiming that Kristen’s death was a murder.

What about the sheer amount of evidence that’s piled up that implies that Cobain was murdered, as opposed to killing himself? None of it is definitive, ‘smoking gun’ proof that shows that Cobain died. The majority of it is ‘evidence’ that doesn’t really indicate anything at all happened to Cobain beyond suicide.

The behavior exhibited by DeWitt and Love is nothing sinister, and there are a variety of explanations that could be given that don’t implicate either one of them as being murderers. True, Kurt’s location was exchanged between DeWitt and Courtney, but the fact that Courtney didn’t give this information out to anyone doesn’t mean that she was directly responsible for his death. DeWitt could have discovered Kurt’s body before anyone else, panicked, and decided to keep quiet about it, lest he end up being implicated as having murdered him. His flying to Los Angeles to be with Courtney could also be explained away as being concern for her, considering she was hospitalized thanks to her drug habit. As for Ms. Love? Well…

Courtney was more than likely hopped up on all sorts of garbage throughout this entire scenario and probably couldn’t have located her ass without a map. Being strung out on drugs does weird things to an individual. Paranoia, forgetfulness and delusions are all common behaviors exhibited by people who are on hard drugs and it’s not much of a stretch that Courtney was either too strung out on whatever she was on to either remember that Kurt was in Seattle at his house, or she didn’t want to give out his location for whatever reason. Being on drugs would also explain away her bizarre behavior when she called up the Seattle police and pretended to be Kurt’s mother, as well as her strange comment to Tom Grant to go and save ‘the American Icon’.

Speaking of drugs, the much ballyhooed suicide note and the erratic handwriting contained within it could also be explained away through the use of drugs. A toxicology report found a lethal amount of heroin in Cobain’s body, an amount that some theorists claim would’ve killed Cobain outright, without the aid of a gun, and that he wouldn’t have been able to load a shotgun and kill himself.

Now, I’m no expert on drugs, but I doubt that someone like Cobain, who had a long and storied history of heroin abuse, would simply keel over and die if he had that amount of junk injected into him. It’s entirely possible that his body had developed a tolerance to heroin that would’ve allowed him an increased range of his motor skills and that he might’ve been able to write the suicide note, despite having some problems writing it, as evidenced with the changing handwriting, and then kill himself while in the middle of a heroin stupor. Additionally, being zonked out on drugs would explain the ‘person’ he had addressed the note to. A simple ‘To Boddah’ was at the top of the page of Cobain’s suicide note, Boddah being an imaginary friend that Cobain had when he was younger. Again, you inject a crazy amount of drugs into someone’s body and the brain starts doing really strange things. Why this wouldn’t apply to Cobain is unknown, however.

As for the authorities’ handling of the case? Their apparent rush to draw conclusions about Cobain’s fate is not proof in and of itself that a murder occurred, or that there was a possibility that a murder had occurred. Could they have screwed up? Entirely possible. Does it mean that Kurt was murdered due to a lapse on the SPD’s behalf? Not at all. Worse case scenario, all it means is that the investigation could’ve taken a little bit longer and, in my opinion, would’ve ended up reaching the same conclusion. The authorities had more than enough reason to believe that Cobain had killed himself, and very little evidence to think otherwise.

While the police have made mistakes with similar cases in the past (the most famous of which would be Robert Blake’s involvement with the murder of his wife Bonny Lee Bakley, the comparisons of which are sometimes eerily similar between Courtney and Kurt, information regarding which can be found here), it doesn’t mean that Kurt Cobain was murdered.

The credit card that was being used up until Kurt’s body was discovered can be explained as well, and it’s a point of interest that I’ve wondered why the conspiracy theorists are keen on focusing in on. Supposing that Courtney and DeWitt conspired together to kill Kurt, why would they want to possibly implicate themselves by using Kurt’s credit card? Indeed, what possible connection, if any, could be made to Kurt’s credit card being used posthumously? Any number of explanations for the credit card, ranging from Kurt’s information being stolen somehow to Kurt actually giving it to a friend or acquaintance (as some suicidal people are wont to do with their possessions before they die), the fact that Kurt’s credit card was missing from his wallet is irrelevant and should have nothing to do with any murder theory.

Kurt’s own behavior leading up to his death has also come under scrutiny by murder theorists, who insist that Kurt wasn’t exhibiting any suicidal tendencies at all, and that, more than anything else, should serve as proof that Cobain wasn’t planning on killing himself.

While yes, Kurt could be outwardly expressing happiness and indicating that everything going on in his life was peachy keen, it’s been long established that people who are exhibiting suicidal thoughts tend to experience a drastic shift in mood and behavior right before they decide to off themselves as they’ve finally made peace with themselves and are convinced that they are making the ‘right decision’ regarding themselves. While I’m not saying that Kurt was thinking or feeling this at the time, it’s entirely possible to interpret his behavior as being along these lines as opposed to the ‘la la la, life is fine’ attitude that murder theorists argue was his mental state at the time.

Assuming that Kurt was suicidal and that he was planning on killing himself, acting happy would’ve probably been the best method of not tipping his hand and letting his friends know his intentions…especially when he had his friend Dylan Carlson purchase a gun for him. Had Kurt been acting suicidal and crazy, it would be foolish of Carlson to provide him with the means to kill himself. With that said, Cobain’s behavior could be viewed as going either way and, again, doesn’t conclusively prove anything.

Finally, a big fuss has been made regarding information that private investigator Tom Grant has been privately held by him over the past decade. This information is supposedly is very damaging towards Courtney and would go a long way to hurting her credibility if the case were to ever be re-opened, or if Courtney Love ever ended up going to trial over her husband’s death. While it’s encouraging that Grant seems to be a step above your atypical conspiracy theorist as he seems to possess proof of some kind, one has to wonder why none of Cobain’s close associates or friends have openly supported Grant and his claims or why Grant, after all this time and with public interest dwindling on Cobain’s case, doesn’t simply share this information to the world for people to make their own judgments. Considering that Courtney had her husband’s body cremated and had the weapon that killed Cobain destroyed, there doesn’t seem to be much else Courtney Love could do to sabotage Grant’s efforts at proving that Courtney murdered Kurt.

Conclusion

While it seems that there will never be a solid, definitive conclusion as to what happened to Kurt Cobain ten years ago in Seattle that will please everyone on both sides of this debate, the idea that Kurt Cobain committed suicide is one that his fans do not wish to entertain. Unfortunately, it’s rather hard not to when you stop to consider what type of person the leadman of Nirvana was. Kurt Cobain wasn’t a revolutionary, he wasn’t a hero, and he wasn’t someone to look up to. He was a musician, and he was a troubled man who had a score of personal problems. He resented the notion of celebrity that came with being a multimillion selling artist and he was a drug addict. To think that Cobain’s life would end in such a bitter, anticlimactic fashion seems to poison the saint-like qualities he possessed both before and after his death. It somehow cheapens his contributions to a number of people’s lives who had sat down and listened to a Nirvana record and had it affect them.

It’s far better to think that Kurt didn’t want to do this, that he wasn’t the one who had pulled the trigger. Nevermind the fact that this scenario has been played out in various forms throughout the world: depressed drug addict decides that life isn’t worth living anymore, decides to kill himself to end his suffering and torment. Why couldn’t a famous celebrity, someone who is human just like you and me be guilty of the same sort of sins that us regular folk suffered from?

Kurt Cobain was someone who let the public see him as the person he was. He didn’t try to hide who he was or what he did. Songs like ‘Sliver’ and ‘Dive’ relived Cobain’s childhood and showcased his personal problems for the entire world to see. To romanticize Cobain is to turn him into something he’s not. To try and paint Cobain as a victim of a murder plot is to try and change Cobain as a person and change what he was. Simply put, Cobain had personal problems and felt that suicide was the only solution to them, and to implicate Courtney Love, another person whose personal problems seem to get increasingly worse as time goes by, as being the one responsible for his death seems to be quite a reach.

Cobain’s death should’ve been used as a rallying point for people who were suffering from their own personal demons. He should’ve been remembered as someone whose personal problems had gotten the best of him, and shown that suicide is not the way to solve your problems, that drug abuse was bad, and that misery and suffering can happen to even the rich and famous. Instead, we’re greeted with finger pointing, wild speculation and endless questions as to whether or not Kurt Cobain was murdered. Forget about any sort of murder theory, the fact that something positive could have come out of Cobain’s death but didn’t is the true crime that was carried out.