‘Soaked In Bleach’ questions death of Kurt Cobain

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You would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t know, or never heard of Kurt Cobain. It is a name synonymous with not only ‘90s grunge music, but music culture as a whole. He died the year I was born, yet I grew up listening to him, watched him on TV and I even own his journals. He was a God to thousands of people, but at the height of Nirvana’s reign, he was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head –– it was determined to be self-inflicted. At 27 years old, he joined an infamous club of rock stars dead before their 28th birthday.

If you look at just the surface of the case, suicide seems realistic –– he was a drug addicted, angsty singer whose own wife said he was suicidal –– but over the years, (starting in 1994 when he was found dead) there has been a ton of speculation that the famous singer was in fact murdered.

Cobain had a huge influence over Generation X, and when he died, fans started killing themselves in his honor. To date, there have been 68 known copycat suicides as a result of the possible misruling that he killed himself.

Soaked In Bleach is a documentary directed by Benjamin Statler that aims to finally uncover the truth behind the problem-ridden investigation of Cobain’s death. Through interviews, taped conversations and dramatizations, the story is unfolded.

Kurt Goes Missing

In 1994, Courtney Love hired private investigator Tom Grant to find her husband who she claimed was missing. From Grant’s first conversation with Love, he saw red flags, so he made sure to heavily document every interaction concerning the case, which has accumulated to several hours of recorded conversations.

It was a dark and terribly rainy night (like most in Washington state) when, along with Cobain’s friend Dylan Carlson, Grant searched his home for a shotgun that Love was concerned he would use to hurt himself. When nothing turned up, Grant asked Carlson if there was anywhere else in the home he should look. Carlson said no. When his body was found in the “greenhouse” above the garage, Grant was shocked that no one ever mentioned that space to him before. The heavy rain caused it to be completely obstructed from Grant’s view.

Suicidal Tendencies?

After Cobain was found dead, Love immediately started telling the press that he had been suicidal for some time and that a recent overdose in Rome was actually a suicide attempt and not the accident they originally said it was. Max Wallace, investigative journalist and co-author of “Love and Death: The Murder of Kurt Cobain,” contacted the doctor that treated Cobain in Rome and he “categorically denied” Love’s allegations.

Like a lot of music buffs, Nirvana fans often over analyzed Cobain’s lyrics trying to find the deeper meaning behind them, so when he died, they felt they could easily pick out certain lyrics that pointed to suicide.

However, in several interviews, Cobain says his lyrics are actually not that deep. “A lot of times when I write lyrics, it’s just like the last second cause I’m really lazy and then I find myself having to come up with explanations for it,” he said in one interview featured in the film.

The people who knew him best said he was definitely not suicidal and pointed out that in a January 1994 interview with Rolling Stone, he said, “I’m a much happier guy than a lot of people think I am.”

So why did Love try to push that he was so suicidal? Did she have something to do with his death? If she was responsible –– either directly or indirectly –– what would she have gained from it? It was revealed that Cobain had filed for divorce and if it had gone through, she would get only a small settlement as a result of their prenuptial agreement. Since he was dead before the divorce was finalized, she co-inherited an estate that is worth possibly more than $1 billion in future royalties. (According to Wallace.)

“All publicity is good publicity to a certain degree,” Love said in one conversation with Grant when talking about planting a story that she overdosed to make Cobain come out of hiding. “I have a record coming up, so you know, selfishly, it would help sell records.” Would the death of her husband help sell records, too?

Police Negligence

The Seattle Police Department is highly at fault here. Different reports state different findings of the scene –– originally the reports said there was a chair across the room while another one added that it was barricading the door from the inside –– and crime scene photos were never developed to confirm or deny the reports. (The photos were only developed three months after the documentary was filmed.)

“The decision to rule the case by police the same day and make a public announcement that this was suicide, is not the way good police agencies would function today,” said Dr. Cyril H. Wecht, forensic pathologist and former president of the American Academy of Forensic Science.

“I think they [the police] were set up by Courtney Love since the beginning with that missing persons report and everything that it said in it,” said Grant. Love had filed a missing persons report under Cobain’s mother’s name.

Cobain was cremated six days after being found, and after waiting 30 days to fingerprint the shotgun, the police then gave it to Love so she could melt it down. They also allowed the garage to be torn down. Any evidence that could be recovered is gone.

But the most highly questionable finding is that Cobain had three times the lethal limit of heroin in his system at the time of his death. It is highly unlikely he was even conscious at the time, let alone able to lift a gun and pull the trigger.

“If you want to get away with murder, you kill a junkie,” said Wallace, quoting an FBI expert. “It’s the perfect crime.”

Media Flaws 

Negligent media coverage is also to blame. It’s really no secret that reporters often interfere with investigations because when certain information is out there, it’s hard to convince people otherwise. Whether the media was getting their information from Love or other unreliable sources, they were only fueling the fire that a rock star had killed himself.

Us Magazine ran a quote that they claimed was from the suicide note, however, it was not. Grant suspected Courtney gave them that false information because that is what she wanted people to think.

Incriminating Evidence

Rosemary Carroll, Cobain and Love’s entertainment attorney, worked with Grant behind the scenes because she was also quite skeptical of the situation. She provided Grant with Love’s backpack, which she had left at Carroll’s house. Inside, they found what looked like a sheet of practice handwriting.

“I think someone went through his notebook, found passages that could plausibly be cobbled together to a suicide note and traced them,” Carroll said, though she later denied ever helping Grant (despite the fact that their conversations were recorded).

To me and to the dozens of people interviewed in the documentary, the evidence seems to overwhelmingly point to Love, but no further investigation has been conducted.

So the question remains, who killed Kurt Cobain?

Soaked In Bleach is available on Netflix.

Medea is a senior journalism major at Hofstra University. She is a pop culture and reality TV show enthusiast. Besides writing, editing and reading, she likes good music, good food and good coffee.
  • Elizabeth parsons

    Amen

  • Furiouswriter

    Excellent article. Thank you.

  • meanmother

    Really good, gives you a lot to think about. What a
    shame.

    • Marissa Montez

      I agree.

  • Marissa Montez

    Really enjoyed the article. I have tried to find information as to how people believe the murder (Which I believe most certainly happened) took place. Can you point to articles where I can find such information. For instance, do people think he was shot and then injected with cocaine after? Why would a murder do both when it would have taken only one or the other to most certainly kill him. Do people think he was shot somewhere else and then moved to the greenhouse or did everything take place in the greenhouse? I would appreciate if you could post a link to information on these theories.

    • Medea Giordano

      There are two books written about the topic. “Who Killed Kurt Cobain? The Mysterious Death of an Icon” and “Love and Death: The Murder of Kurt Cobain” both are written by Max Wallace and Ian Halperin. There is also a website called cobaincase.com where the PI Tom Grant basically just lays out everything that he said in the film.

  • Lyz

    Lol, this is all rubbish. Courtney sold all her rights to Nirvana music and felt it was time to move on, and use the money she makes off of HER stuff. Of course Courtney was probably the only one who knew he was suicidal bc I’m sure he expressed it to her and wanted to hide it from the world so he wouldn’t get submitted in a mental home. Rubbish assumptions for foolish people to believe

    • againstcorporaterule

      Enough of your worthless speculations on how “suicidal” he was! Just watch Soaked in Bleach first, and then get back to us. (Did you not even read the article?)

    • BlueSummerCobain

      Rubbish assumptions? From respected forensic pathologists who are prepared to speak on camera giving out their names? Rubbish audio tapes taken from actual conversations between Ms Love and a private investigator with an impeccable record? Rubbish conclusions from professional document examiners who state there are differences in handwriting in the suicide note? Rubbish conclusions of the lawyer for both Courtney and Kurt who knew the two intimately and felt something was amiss?
      Go watch the movie, Lyz, before you just “rubbish” something you know nothing about. It’s easy to be fooled by someone cunning enough to set this “suicide” up, and no- one has said that Kurt’s death doesn’t LOOK like a suicide! But the reality is that the facts of the case don’t support the suicide. Not one little bit.

  • againstcorporaterule

    Someone was trying to use his credit card during the “3 days” his body laid dead, the last credit card attempt occurring the very day his body was finally discovered. (Just in the past year that credit card turned up and was auctioned off as “rock memorabilia” -as celebrated by Rolling Stone magazine and SPIN)

    For more information on the attempted uses of his credit card, you can check the Unsolved Mysteries episode on his death -the last 10 minutes of it. It is interesting that all the rest of the media still refuses to mention it.

  • Elizabeth parsons

    WHy doesnt anyone notice the carnival-level makeup job Courtney had on when stepping out of that Rome ambulance? Its so perverted to stand there and do red lipstick ect when you see your “beloved husband” dying in front of you– possibly with permanent brain damage. Rome- 1994-was HER ROOFIE JOB Cosby style. She roofied the f-ck out of him to stop him from divorcing her and going public with his feelings for her. Its rumored that he woke up from his coma and told Courtney “Get F-cked”. I DONT understand how he thought he was safe to go home to a house shared with her. (then she calls 911 to paint him black to the police not once but twice in March– of course domestic violence BS) and then she claims hes suicidal to the cops in March a few weeks before she MAKES him leave this planet. Its sick Shes a kill or be killed perv. Total Cosby in womans body. But sadly her name was on their assets (as she states in Soaked in Bleach) because they probably bought everything together. I do not understand WHY he went back to Seattle with her. He could have had someone go to the house while he went to a hotel to be safe in order to check on the baby to make sure frances was safe while near that beastly woman. Why didnt he take Courtneys insanity seriously? He looked past her violent side or something. I think he was afraid of her embarrassing him even more in public, so he kept his mouth shut hoping she would return him the favor. He should have gone public with the divorce immediately and then admitted that he may have met a new woman (which is WHY this all happened). Notice how Kristen died also a few weeks later? I believe Kristen may have been pregnant– and Courtney found out by breaking into Kristens diary/ then had her creeptastic BFF Eric finish the killjobs. Courtney and Eric are nothing but alternative music’s version of Blades of Glory (Will Ferrel on Ice)l. Two lesbian Jim Morrison wannabees with really bad breath and skank fairy dust. YUCKKKK>

  • BlueSummerCobain

    Excellent article. The huge problem this case has had over the years is the misinformation that flows like a river out of media outlets, fueled initially by the one person who stands to lose most from the truth reaching the world. The facts can be backed up by the audio tapes, and the forensic evidence, and kudos to Mr Grant for his professional ethics and high standards. Such a sloppy job by the Seattle Police Department, even ordinary folk can see the blunders they made quite easily! I hope the SPD swallow their pride and do what is right, reopen this and hand it over to independent authorities. The evidence of foul play is too obvious.