Friday, April 5, 2019

25th Anniversary of a Tragic Suicide & a Multimorbid Conspiracy Theory (Update)

[updated July 10, 2019; highlighted in red color]

by Silvia K.

Anniversaries are usually there to celebrate. But when it comes to Kurt Cobain's 25th anniversary we are not talking about his birthday, we are talking about a musician who died by suicide 25 years ago. Should this be celebrated? Definiately not. Should his music celebrated and suicide be discussed? Yes, absolutely! Should a murder plot be discussed? No! It's a bottomless pit... Human fantasy & opinions know no boundaries.

Over three years ago the filmmaker Benjamin Statler released the docu-drama "Soaked in Bleach" to the public. The movie details the events leading up to the death of Kurt Cobain as seen through the perspective of the former private investigator Tom Grant (license no. 16603). Grant was hired by musician and actress Courtney Love in a hurry to find her suicidal husband Kurt who quit rehabilitation for his Heroin addiction in the Exodus Recovery Center near Los Angeles after only one day.

The anterior intervention by his management, friends and his wife didn't succeed and Kurt flew back to Seattle. From there on conspiracy theories arose as to what exactly happened with Kurt until his lifeless body was discovered in a room above the garage of his own home on April 8th in the year 1994.

A clear case for Tom Grant & Benjamin Statler: Kurt Cobain was murdered. Was he? Not according to some experts in Statler's own movie. A year later they were interviewed about their involvement in the making of the fictitious film "Soaked in Bleach". [1, 2, 3] The, by conspiracy theorists glorified, movie suddenly appeared to be a great disservice to the general public and especially to Suicide Prevention, Mental Health Awareness and also to Heroin Addiction Awareness.


Vernon J. Geberth

[retired as the Commanding Officer of the Bronx Homicide Task Force; New York; has over 40 years law enforcement experience]

Geberth's conclusion in Cobain's death case was that Cobain died by suicide after he reviewed the Seattle Police Department's homicide information and after he interviewed one of the investigators who was in service at the time of the Kurt Cobain incident. His expert opinion is also based on his own experience with suicide cases. Geberth made his homework before he went to the "Soaked in Bleach" filming and responded to some 40 questions by the film producers. They repeatedly asked him questions about proper police procedures and basic death investigation in an attempt to show him that he agreed that Cobain was assassinated. He never agreed to such a thing but Statler's final cut makes it appear as if Geberth agreed. After Geberth was interviewed about his involvement in the movie, he again made clear, in a Facebook post and on his own website www.practicalhomicide.com, that he was not happy with the edited part of his interview. Geberth has worked his entire life for the community and his lifelong work can be purchased as a book "Practical Homicide Investigation" for educational purposes. The book text is used in most police academies, including the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. It is a very interesting, disturbing and also very enlightening and heavy in weight book that Statler entirely missed to study before he invited Geberth to speak about the Cobain case.

Screenshots of Geberth's own written words:

 Screenshot from www.PracticalHomicide.com by Vernon Geberth - Research Material


Screenshot from the Facebook Site "Practical Homicide Investigation" by Vernon Geberth


Carole E. Chaski

[Forensic Linguist]

Carole Chaski is another professional who did not exactly remain silent about her involvement in the making of "Soaked in Bleach". The forensic linguist stated that she was not happy with how her opinion about Kurt Cobain's suicide note was used to influence the murder narrative.

In correspondence with the California licensed attourney Kurt F., Chaski described how she utilized linguistic software known as SNARE ("Suicide Note Assessment Review"; formerly known as "Suicide Note Assessment Research") as part of her evaluation of the Greenhouse note discovered near Kurt Cobain’s body. The two-step procedure of suicide note authentification consists of

(quote:)


1. an evaluation and classification by SNARE of a questioned document 



[Screenshot of the SNARE-Kurt-Cobain-Document the filmmaker Benjamin Statler is in possession of; Update July 10, 2019],

SNARE Kurt Cobain Note


followed by



2. an analyst performing qualitative assessment of the questioned document to ensure SNARE's classification is not in error. 


[Screenshots of Chaski's Review-Document of the Kurt Cobain Suicide Note the filmmaker Benjamin Statler is in possession of; Update July 10, 2019]

Chaski Kurt Cobain Note Review 1
Chaski Kurt Cobain Review 2

These documents alone confirm a major deception and betrayal of audience trust being committed by the director Ben Statler with regard to the Kurt Cobain greenhouse note.

In an interview on October 9, 2017 with Alan Warren from the NBC News affiliate "House of Mystery Radio Show", Chaski explained her involvement with "Soaked in Bleach" by herself and pointed out that "There was a struggle going on among the producers [...]" and that they "would ask questions in one way and talk in another way off camera [...]". Listen to this [~ 56 minutes long]:




John Fisk

[Paramedic Lt.; Medical Service Officer of the Seattle Fire Department]

Screenshot from "Soaked in Bleach"
John Fisk was yet another person briefly involved in Kurt Cobain's death case in 1994. Fisk took the emergency call during a normal shift as a first responder paramedic and went for a run to the Cobain property. He was the first person to enter the Greenhouse by breaking a glass panel on the locked French door. It was immediately evident to him and his colleques that the person found was a case of DOA (Death on Arrival; "fatality") because there was a recognizable gunshot wound to the head with a "significant pool of blood" at the floor by Cobain's head.

Fisk recalls his involvement with the docu-drama "Soaked in Bleach" in an interview on April 6, 2016 with the Mercer Island Reporter, who wrote that 

(quote:)

  • "he reiterated to the producers that he still believes the case remains a suicide"
  • "Fisk calls himself a bit of a skeptic when it comes to conspiracy theories, and says conspiracies seem to come up with any celebrity death."
  • "In a case of an obvious suicide, which from my limited experience with a crime scene, it looked like every other suicide I’ve seen."

Nothing of what he told about his experience with suicide cases to the reporter was mentioned in the film.


Norman H. Stamper

[retired as Chief of Police of the Seattle Police Department (1994 - 2000)]

Screenshot from "Soaked in Bleach"
In an E-Mail response to the author from October 13, 2016, an assistant for Norman Stamper noticed that, Mr. Stamper "doesn't want to focus on Kurt Cobain anymore". Maybe it is because Norman Stamper was Police Chief at the time Kurt Cobain died and was updated on the case which is backed up by the case files, involving another conspiracy theorist with the name of Richard Lee, who approached Mr. Stamper many times. It is impossible that Norman Stamper had no clue about Lee's efforts to get the case reopened.
Read and educate what went on at that time:



Reaction from filmmaker Benjamin Statler II


To this day, filmmaker Benjamin Statler II avoids to answer questions publically and professionally about his artistic efforts to change the narrative to Homicide. And of course he did not release uncut versions of certain expert's interviews.

In a Facebook comment that I spotted by accident, Benjamin Statler stated the following about the interview editings:


Facebook Screenshot


Needless to say that Benjamin Statler II had the great opportunity to interview independent experts about Kurt Cobain's death case but paints the expert opinions as invalid at the same time. If an independent expert's opinion does not mean anything to Mr. Statler, then to open a new investigation would be pointless, wouldn't it? 

With the help of Statler's movie, the Conspiracy Theory has become multimorbid and sounds like fingernails scratching on a chalkboard over and over again. It won't vanish but it will trigger discussion about suicide, mental health and addiction.


Krist Novoselić about "Soaked in Bleach" in his own words


Twitter Screenshot


Facebook Screenshot

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Complete Idiot's Guide to "Kurt Cobain" Handwriting Analysis

[updated August 15, 2019; highlighted in red color, added a radio interview with Sheila Lowe]

by Silvia K.

Correspondence between the author and Sheila Lowe, a forensic handwriting examiner, who worked briefly with Tom Grant in 1994, illuminates the 23 year old conspiracy theory that Kurt Cobain's suicide letter was forged.

Sheila Lowe is a certified forensic document examiner with more than forty years of experience in the field, and currently serving as president of the nonprofit American Handwriting Analysis Foundation. Lowe holds a Master of Science degree in psychology and has been an instructor in document examination at the University of California Riverside Campus in the Crime Scene Investigation Certificate Program and at the University of California Santa Barbara Campus in the Discovery program.

Since the 1990s her Handwriting Analyzer software has been used around the world. Sheila Lowe is the author of the internationally acclaimed „The Complete Idiot's Guide to Handwriting Analysis“ and also author of six books of her forensic handwriting murder mystery series featuring handwriting expert Claudia Rose. Sheila's analyses of celebrity handwritings are often seen in the media.

In a Vice article from December 2008 "Written in the Writing" by Milene Larsson, Lowe was asked what her weirdest assignment was she ever got. She responded that Tom Grant asked her to analyze Kurt Cobain's suicide letter and that she couldn't confirm his concerns. Lowe said that Courtney Love did not write the suicide note but Grant still went to the magazines.

Excerpt Vice article "Written in the Writing" from Dec. 2008
Sheila Lowe Vice interview
I contacted Sheila Lowe about the issue. Lowe responded that Tom Grant called her in the middle of the night about 3:00 am, asking her to examine some handwriting in the Cobain matter. He wanted to contact the Seattle Police Department in the morning. Lowe accepted the job and allowed Grant to fax her the materials and she compared then several handwritings to the Cobain suicide letter to determine whether Kurt or Courtney wrote it. It was her professional opinion that the note was genuine and written by Cobain after she found better samples than the bad quality faxes Grant sent her. Her first opinion on the bad quality faxes note matter was "inconclusive". Lowe explained that the apparent differences in the last four lines in the note are suggestive of strong emotion and/or drugs/alcohol and not necessarily a different writer. As a handwriting analyst Sheila Lowe is, the note looked like the handwiting of a depressed person.

Sheila Lowe told the author that Tom Grant was unhappy with her results and wanted a second opinion. He contacted a colleague of Lowe. But her colleague came to the same conclusion. Lowe told the author that Tom Grant never paid her for her work and he did not pay for the work of her colleague either.

Lowe provided correspondence papers between her and Tom Grant from 1994 to the author which confirm that Grant tried to avoid to pay her. In very long argumentative letters he explained himself why he couldn't pay but will try to do so. However, a payment of $1,575.00 never occured. Lowe as well doesn't know why her name appears handwritten in the Kurt Cobain death case files of the Seattle Police Department Homicide Unit.

Notebook1.pdf, Page 22, Handwritten Detective Note: "Sheila Lowe"
Seattle Blotter Notebook1, page 22
I asked Sheila Lowe if she knows a handwriting examiner who goes by the name of "Dorothy". Tom Grant mentioned "Dorothy" in his latest book "The mysterious death of Kurt Cobain" in Chapter 32. He claims Dorothy confirmed his concerns over a forged note and sat down with her in a hotel room to wait for the gossip reporter Harvey Levin (founder of celebrity news website TMZ), to tell him the latest news about a forged note. However as indicitated by Grant in his book, Dorothy seemed to paddle back when Levin showed up with a camera crew. However, Grant still insists today that several document examiners concluded that the note had been written in two different hands. Grant as always fails to provide evidence for his claim.

Excerpt from Tom Grant's book, Chapter 32, "Dorothy"
"Dorothy"
Lowe told the author she knows Dorothy Morrison, who died quite a long time ago. She described her as a "sweet elderly lady who was not qualified to provide a questioned document examination". Lowe indicated that she believes Grant talked her into a certain opinion she ended up giving.

Sheila Lowe has never watched Benjamin Statler's fictitious docu drama "Soaked in Bleach" and will not do so. She was not surprised that the interviews of her colleagues Carole E. Chaski and Heidi Harralson ended up on the cutting room floor. It seems a common procedure when it comes to Tom Grant's "forged suicide note"-narrative. However, Sheila Lowe provided her professional opinion to Tom Grant and fulfilled her part of the contract.

In an interview on March 9, 2019 with Alan Warren from the NBC News affiliate "House of Mystery Radio Show", Sheila Lowe explains a lot about her profession as a forensic handwriting examiner,  handwritings in general, handwritings of serial killers, of left handers and talks as well about Kurt Cobain's suicide note and her involvement with Tom Grant in 1994. Listen to the interview [~ 50 minutes long]:






Below are the correspondence papers between Sheila Lowe & Tom Grant, Mrs. Lowe has given to me for publication. Certain names blacked out by the author for data protection.




Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Aftermath of "Soaked in Bleach" - Part III

by Silvia K.

Seven months after this blog published two articles exposing the heavily edited interviews featured in the docu-drama “Soaked in Bleach“, fans of the fictitious movie still tweet on a daily basis how impressed they were after watching it. Nonetheless, there are still other people presented in the movie who haven’t had the opportunity to tell their experience in the involvement of the film. One of them is Ryan Aigner, an old friend of Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselić who attended Aberdeen High School with them.

In August of 2015, Ryan Aigner was interviewed by Trevor Joe Lennon, almost a year before this blog was established. The interview was buried in the Aether of the Internet. But digging sometimes brings forth a piece of Gold. Mr. Lennon describes himself as a "marketing and radio personality“ and while browsing through his many interesting interviews, Lennon appears to be a dedicated man of 60s music.

During the interview Lennon and Aigner talk about the music scene of Aberdeen, Washington in relationship to Seattle and how Aigner’s relationship with the founding members of Nirvana developed. Aigner became close to Krist after attempting to start a band with Krist’s brother Robert. Krist later became something of a mentor to Aigner, sparking an interest in independent music. Later he dedicated his time managing Nirvana without a contract or any kind of financial support. The experience was a symbiosis of learning from Krist, Kurt and others and learning on the job. He therefore thinks the title of Nirvana’s “first manager“ is a little “misconstrued“.


Aigner was also encouraged by both musicians to develop and create his own musical projects. Nirvana supported Aigner's band Psychlodds and the band returned the favour, supporting Nirvana as an opening band on two shows. Before the days of the internet, Facebook, Twitter and smartphones, publicising gigs and bands was a very different experience. It was small, slow, lethargic and low budgeted. The shows were poorly attended, with scant advertisement running. The guys were “perfectly happy“ within their own world and “thrilled“ at having 20 metal heads attending a show. Later on Aigner helped to put on shows for several other bands such as Mundhoney, Melvins and Soundgarden.

Screenshot from "Soaked in Bleach"
Near the end of the interview Ryan Aigner tells Lennon a little bit about the docudrama “Soaked in Bleach“ explaining that he wasn't involved in the later years of Nirvana and had already stepped back prior the Geffen relationship. He thinks “the producers of Soaked in Bleach didn't realize that“ and “didn't do their homework“. The amateurish preparation for the interview led to an uncomfortable situation for Aigner.

We contacted Ryan Aigner for further clarification about his time on the set of “Soaked in Bleach“. Aigner is experienced in giving interviews. He told us that “usually people do not know how to interview“, they come ill prepared and don't know their subject matter. The familiar “Here we go again“ feeling was the case during the filming. He told us he has never watched “Soaked in Bleach“ but feels he has offered the producers a positive reflection on Kurt Cobain “as they were digging for negatives“. Three fourths of the questions they asked him he could not answer. He feels the producers hoped he would reflect on issues that he was not involved in. Frustrated and befuddled by his answers they tried a “classic bait“ but it didn't work out for them. Although the interview lasted about half of an hour the majority of it ended on the cutting room floor, and the result was not even a whole minute of the interview. Aigner thinks the movie might have the only purpose to sell something the public wants and would pay for, a niche for good sales. Aigner adds “I guess the truth can be kind of boring.“ When the time comes Aigner would like to share more stories about the “creative genius“ that Kurt was and about the whole group of people he met in the 80s. Some of those fascinating stories you can already read in the book “I Found My Friends: The Oral History of Nirvana“ by Nick Soulsby.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Aftermath of "Soaked in Bleach" - Part II

by Frank E.

The Ben Statler helmed docu-drama Soaked in Bleach presents the events surrounding Kurt Cobain’s missing days before and after he was found dead from an apparent self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head. The film relies heavily on information provided by Tom Grant, the California based Private Investigator who was hired by Cobain’s wife Courtney Love to locate her husband who had walked out of an LA drug rehabilitation facility days earlier. 
 
The case has turned many into amateur detectives with the film adding fuel to the murder theory. However, information presented in the film may not be as it seems. Along with the heavily debunked claim that Cobain was injected with a 3x lethal dose of heroin it’s apparent that some of the experts interviewed for Soaked in Bleach may not be happy with how their opinion was used to influence the murder narrative. 
 
Screenshot from "Soaked in Bleach"
Carole Chaski is a renowned forensic linguist and Executive Director of the Institute for Linguistic Evidence, a non-profit research organization devoted to research and development in linguistic evidence. She was asked to analyse Cobain’s suicide note. Viewers watched her describe the ‘linguistically interesting’ aspects of the final lines of the note and how they appeared to be from a ‘stereotypical suicide note’ in comparison to the rest of the note. What the creators of Soaked in Bleach failed to mention however was that Chaski agreed with the official suicide verdict. When asked her opinion on the film and her involvement in it she stated,
What I did say is that the note had typical variation of real suicide notes with the top half being one kind of suicide note and the bottom one being another  (more stereotypically-conceived) kind, both real suicide notes. My results do not support the conspiracy theory that Courtney Love authored the bottom portion to make it look like a suicide note”
 
Screenshot from "Soaked in Bleach"
Another expert interviewed for the film was Heidi Harralson, a Forensic Document Examiner. Her interview is played out while animation of letters from the practice sheet appear to be placed perfectly over the letters at the bottom of the suicide note. Harralson watched a small part of Soaked in Bleach and stated Because I haven't seen the entire film, I can't critically evaluate it other than to say that I think what I said was mischaracterized through editing and taken out of context”
 
Watching the film it is clear to see that neither experts are actually on film agreeing with the suicide verdict or the murder verdict but it is implied that they question the authenticity of the Cobain suicide note. The animation featured during the interviews appears to manipualte the viewers. Having these experts featured in the film does add validity to the claims of the film but not providing the viewers a full picture of the experts claims makes their decision making somewhat cloudy. One fears that Statlers intention is for viewers to watch the film without questioning the information provided. Unfortunately, when researched the claims made by Grant and Statler seem empty and without merit.

The Aftermath of "Soaked in Bleach" - Part I

by Silvia K.

"He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and third time, till at length it becomes habitual [...]" (Thomas Jefferson)

The docu-drama “Soaked in Bleach“ combines the recollections of private investigator Tom Grant (who was hired by Courtney Love to find her missing husband) with testimonies from experts in various fields including Forensic Document Examination and Pathology. The film has successfully managed to convince many viewers that Kurt Cobain did not commit suicide and was actually murdered in a conspiracy plot improvised by Courtney Love.

Via statements from the former Seattle Police Chief Norman Stamper and the American forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht, the movie implies that the goal is to reopen the Cobain Case. The dramatizations and edited interviews appear to show that some of the other experts who were interviewed agreed with the homicide theory.

One example of these experts is Vernon J. Geberth, a retired Lieutenant-Commander of the New York City Police Department with over 40 years of law enforcement experience. He retired as the Commanding Officer of the Bronx Homicide Task Force, which handled over 400 murder investigations a year. Vernon J. Geberth also taught his popular “Practical Homicide Investigation” course in the Seattle area for over 28 years and he has had many members of the Seattle Police Homicide unit in his classes over the years. Such an expert should have been given more testimony time in a documentary but instead only a few minutes were shown. In fact, Vernon J. Geberth was interviewed over two hours and was asked to review and respond to some 40 questions. Many questions concerned proper police procedure and basic death investigations. During this session the film producers asked him questions repeatedly in an attempt to show that he agreed that Kurt Cobain was murdered.

Screenshot from "Soaked in Bleach"
But Vernon J. Geberth never agreed to this conclusion. His opinion is that Kurt Cobain's death was a classic suicide. Before going to the “Soaked in Bleach“ interview he was given access to the Seattle Police Department’s homicide information and interviewed one of the investigators who was actually in service at the time of the Kurt Cobain incident. In the movie Mr. Geberth stated that in cases of “staged crime scenes” when you arrive “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck. It must be a duck.“ He added that in the Kurt Cobain death case it was not like that and he concluded suicide. He points out as well that a Seattle Homicide detective who was working that day told him that the Detective Lieutenant instructed his detectives to handle the case like it was a homicide. They were very well aware of the publicity that would erupt for this high profile case and were concerned that there would be a media circus if they released everything at the time. But this resulted in feeding people believing in a homicide conspiracy plot.

But why was Mr. Geberth's information cut out, taken out of context and hidden from the viewers who were not able to see important evidence that led to the suicide conclusion? Is it possible that the film producers acted in the same way as other experts shown in the docudrama? But what is the motive for omitting information? Probably to fit the narrative that the producers wanted to follow; the Hollywood hype about celebrity deaths that always draws attention worldwide. And it doesn't matter if the celebrity's name is Kurt Cobain, Michael Jackson, Janis Joplin or John F. Kennedy, as long as it sells.