Friday, September 8, 2017

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

[updated July 21, 2022; highlighted in red color, added faxes from Tom Grant]
[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 occurred. 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"
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]:


Forensic Handwriting Examiner Sheila Lowe interview about Kurt Cobain's suicide note from Silvia K. on Vimeo.

Another Snippet by "Heydedalo":

Forensic handwriting examiner Sheila Lowe talks about Kurt Cobain's suicide note from Silvia K. on Vimeo.

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.

Additional faxes from Grant to Sheila Lowe; includes random letters he collected from the Cobain Carnation property (updated July 21, 2022):