portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reporting global

arts and culture | legacies

Was Elliot Smith Murdered?

Coronor questions police theory that Elliot Smith killed self. Investigation to be reopened.
Elliott Smith Case Not Closed

 link to story.news.yahoo.com

By Josh Grossberg

Sad-song troubadour Elliott Smith was thought to have died by his own hand two months ago.
Now, those investigating the presumed suicide of the 34-year-old folk-rocker aren't so sure.

A statement issued this week by the Los Angeles County coroner has clouded the case, saying officials have been unable to determine whether Smith was the one who initiated the two "penetrating stab wounds" in his chest.
Therefore, an official cause of death has not yet been filed.

"Despite a comprehensive and ongoing inquiry into the death by the LAPD (news - web sites) detectives and coroner investigators together with a thorough examination by the coroner's pathologist, the mode of death remains 'undetermined' due to incomplete knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the death," the coroner's office said in a press statement.

The coroner says the wounds could have been inflicted either by Smith or a second party.

The body of the brooding singer-songwriter was discovered October 21 in the kitchen of his Los Angeles apartment.
Given Smith's history of drug and alcohol abuse and depression (he was once dubbed "the unhappiest man in the land" and his most famous song was "Miss Misery"), police initially declared the case a suicide. But toxicology tests showed no drugs in Smith's system and, with the coroner's most recent pronouncement, authorities say they plan to revisit the suicide theory.

The coroner's office will revisit the case should new information surface; until then, the file will remain open.
Smith rose through the indie ranks in the '90s with fragile melodies that stood in stark contract to the grunge, nu-metal and rap dominating radio.

He released his solo debut, Roman Candle, in 1994, and received critical acclaim for 1997's Either/Or.
Smith's music caught the attention of director Gus Van Sant, who included several of the singer's tracks on the Good Will Hunting Soundtrack (1997), the most popular of which, "Miss Misery," earned Smith a surprise Oscar nomination for Best Original Song.

His major-label debut, XO, was released the following year on DreamWorks Records.
In August, Smith released the vinyl single "Pretty (Ugly Before)" with the flip side, "A Distorted Reality Is Now a Necessity to Be Free." It was his first recorded work since the 2000 album, Figure 8.

Tick Tock 01.Jan.2004 17:32

Sane Sally

Let's see how long it takes before a good conspiracy theory can be cooked up to blame the death on Bush/CIA/Mossad.

East Coast 01.Jan.2004 18:52


Obviously an east coast /west coast singer song writer dispute.

hmm... 01.Jan.2004 19:09

kurt cobain

where was courtney love on the night of the incident?

Would make a good tv show 02.Jan.2004 09:15

Plas Jousterston

Oh yeah, the LAPD is going to investigate this, not a harbinger of resolvability.

It's raining today in LA 02.Jan.2004 12:22

I eat meat AND vegetables

How do you stab yourself twice in the heart if you're not extremely f*cked up? Love? Wasn't he on paxil or prozac? If a guy could afford to balance his system out, don't you think he'd at least try before getting to the point of putting a knife through his own chest, sober, twice?

prozac 02.Jan.2004 22:57


Disclaimer: I know nothing about this, and I'm not usually the 'conspiracy theory' type. Nonetheless:

>"Wasn't he on paxil or prozac?"

Actually, this might interest you:


One of the shooters in the 1999 Columbine High School killings was reportedly taking an antidepressant called Luvox, a potential side effect of which is mania causing unusually intense impulses of an aggressive nature.

If his music is any indication, Smith was not exactly a happy, carefree guy to begin with, so I'm inclined to buy the suicide theory, but there's certainly evidence out there that antidepressants can fuck up your judgement about decisions on the order of killing oneself (you are playing around with chemicals like serotonin and dopamine, after all). Note that you don't often hear about these side effects from the media outlets who sell ad space to companies like Eli Lilly.

Prozac Use 23.Aug.2004 18:56


I take Prozac, and although it's true that it can have adverse effects, they are extremly rare, and in almost all cases it works. It worked to get me out of a sucididal depression. So please don't criticize it universaly unless you are personally effected by depression and have realized it isn't the right drug for you.

paxil side effects 10.Sep.2004 19:51


look, I dont know about the combo drugs smith was reportedly on. but i've taken paxil for a few years and the only side effect I get is diarrhea.

ps 10.Sep.2004 19:55


so stop it with this fear culture anti/anti-depressants. It does help those of us who are lucky enough to ignore all of the stupid myths and actually try one.

In Response To I eat meat & vegtables 05.Nov.2004 15:56

Kdiddy k_diddy_sk8_7@hotmail.com

In Response To I eat meat & vegtables It was proven that Elliot was drug & alcohol free that night All i think of the situation is that it is F***ed & i dont know what the Cops Will Find out about what happened