Elliott Smith Autopsy Report Reveals Mysterious Wounds: Source

Categories: WTF
73043635_efeb2dfb7e_o.jpg
Flickr user flybutter
More than eight years after the death of indie-rock troubadour Elliott Smith, sticky questions linger as to what happened in his Echo Park home on Oct. 21, 2003. Smith expired from two stab wounds to the chest following an argument with his live-in girlfriend, Jennifer Chiba.

Though the media initially reported that Smith committed suicide, the Los Angeles Department of Coroner, following its investigation, declined to rule on the mode of death. The report cited multiple factors for the ruling, including Chiba's subsequent refusal to speak with police as well as potential defensive wounds on Smith's left hand and right arm. It was also reported that during her initial interview with police, Chiba pointed to a Post-It note that read, "I'm so sorry--love, Elliott God Forgive me."

Recently, the Weekly was contacted by a mysterious figure from the blogosphere who operates under the pseudonym Alyson Camus. A frequent contributor to the rocknyc live and recorded music blog, she managed to tease information out of the pathologist who conducted the autopsy on the Academy Award-nominated singer/songwriter that could indicate the possibility of foul play.




Almost a decade after the fact, the mode of death remains undetermined, and if the LAPD has made any significant gains in its investigation, it's not sharing anything with the public.

Detective James King, one of the original investigators, declined to comment to the Weekly, citing the ongoing nature of the case, which he says is led by detectives in the force's northeast division.

Enter Camus, who has spent countless hours scrutinizing and blogging about statements from friends and colleagues of Smith given in articles such as Liam Gowing's exhaustive 2004 piece for Spin Magazine, "Mr. Misery," as well as statistics on deaths resulting from self-inflicted stab wounds. (They're extremely rare.)

But most compelling are Camus' blogs critiquing the Gil Reyes documentary Searching for Elliott Smith, a film that has only been shown in special screenings--despite the fact Chiba appears in the film and discusses the account she gave to police before reportedly clamming up.  

While Camus' writing betrays a passionate interest in the subject matter and at times lacks discipline, she manages to zero in on inconsistencies in the statements given by friends over the years about Smith's mental state in his final days.

elliott-smith-figure-8-outtake.jpg
One example of these incongruencies includes a 2004 quote from Chiba in Spin: "I hope that someday people will see that [Elliott] had cleaned up. The toxicology report shows that he was clean of any illicit substances. That had been true of the whole past year. That's not to say he hadn't been abusing some of his prescription drugs, but in the last two months, I can honestly say that we were in the healthiest shape that either of us had ever been." Years later, in Reyes' documentary, Chiba talks about the difficulty Smith had with simple tasks such as getting a glass of water for himself, saying, "I essentially took care of him for the last year of his life."  

Camus kept digging--and successfully pried nuggets of new information from tight-lipped homicide investigators. 

Last April, the blogger managed to score some face time with Dr. Lisa Scheinin, the deputy medical examiner who conducted Smith's autopsy. Who knew the cash-strapped body repository, world-renowned for its tacky gift shop, granted civilians with no apparent media ties meetings with its pathologists for a scant $150 fee?

Camus, who produced a receipt for her 20-minute conversation with the good doctor, said she was told the cuts on Smith's hands were fresh and not the result of self-mutilating behavior. Scheinin was careful to add, however, they could have been the result of Smith mishandling the knife. 

This revelation is significant given the explanation for the wounds by Chiba in the film. She suggested they resulted from Smith's tendency to cut himself. Misty-eyed, she recalls coming home from a movie one night and finding him, reeling emotionally from stopping his medications cold turkey, in bed with a knife covered in his own blood.

When asked by the Weekly on Friday about a large cut near the thumb on his left hand labeled on Smith's autopsy report, Assistant Chief of Investigations Ed Winter said, "It could be a puncture wound."

Calls to Chiba have yet to be returned.
My Voice Nation Help
14 comments
Elisa Bravo
Elisa Bravo

Ryan Bravo 3 Angela Defoe I miss happy foot sad foot

Jim Kennedy
Jim Kennedy

His work is worth a listen . Some say he could be a handful . Now only his songs remain to present what his view of things were .

Dave Jay
Dave Jay

DOes anyone have the offical date of the Exam. Its important

Amelia
Amelia

Perhaps a notable difference in thedescription of Smith’s cognitive abilities is what is beingremarked upon, HUH. Either that, or Smith was more stereotypically male than anyonesuspected (at least it was a glass of water and not a beer).

I can see why the wound on the palm could be equivocated and/or argued, but that woundUNDER the right arm (yeah – there’s missing information in this article!) – thetricep area – that one is a little more difficult to explain away – especially with hypothetical “self-cutting” behavior. Cutters don’t typically slice in thetricep area. However, typical self-defense wounds do occur under the arms and on the palms.

I can accept a self-stabbing suicide morereadily than I can accept a wound located under the arm as a self-mutilationwound. Otherwise, he must’ve had a helluva deft, left hook to achieve theunderarm cut upon withdrawal of that mishandled kitchen knife.

Meagan M. Jackson
Meagan M. Jackson

Who stabs themselves in the chest... multiple times?! Always a fishy story. Regardless of the cause, Elliott Smith was incredible and his death was tragic and heartbreaking.

Huh?
Huh?

I don't see a contradiction between "in the last two months (of 2003), I can honestly say that we were in the healthiest shape that either of us had ever been" (given Elliott's drug habit between 1998 - 2001)  -and -  "I essentially took care of him for the last year of his life".   One statement seems to mean Elliott was clean of illegal drugs when he died in 2003.  The other statement says Chiba took care of him.  Where's the inconsistency?

Yknti
Yknti

A man of so many words left a tiny note on a post it. Where he misspelled his name.

Alva
Alva

Sick people find each other.

Xdsf
Xdsf

fuck chiba, i hate her regardless of whether she did it or not.  shes just a terrible person period. 

Debbie Sprague
Debbie Sprague

yukio mishima? my high school friend helena? those two come to mind immediately.

serendipity
serendipity

he didn't misspell  his name, that was a mistake from the coroner.

eavgrainger
eavgrainger

@Debbie Sprague Mishima stabbed himself in the abdomen (seppuku), not the chest.  Self-stabbing in the chest through the rib cage is exceptionally rare.  I don't know what happened with your friend Helena and I'm very sorry to hear that she did violence to herself, but this particular form of self-harm is so rare as to be notable when it occurs.

Now Trending

Anaheim Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Events

Loading...