This article was published by Blogcritics on January 12 2004
Smith’s Girlfriend Speaks…
by Marty Dodge
The girlfriend of singer songwriter Elliott Smith has spoken out over as-yet-only-implied allegations that she may have been responsible for her partner’s tragic death last year. As previously reported, it was assumed depressive Smith had committed suicide last October. His girlfriend Jennifer Chiba, who discovered the body, reportedly told friends that less than an hour before his death Smith had threatened to kill himself. Used to melodramatic threats from her boyfriend Chiba ignored his remarks and took a shower – only to discover later he had stabbed himself.
However last week a coroner in US said police had not supplied sufficient evidence for him to conclusively conclude Smith’s death was, in fact, suicide. A copy of the coroner’s report surfaced on the Smoking Gun website on Thursday revealing various pieces of evidence that may suggest the singer’s death was a case murder or manslaughter – and if that’s the case Chiba is now suspect number one.
Among that evidence are small lacerations on Smith’s palms which could have been caused as the singer tried to defend himself against an attacker. The medical examiner has also questioned why Smith’s girlfriend removed the knife on finding the body, and questions her “subsequent refusal to speak with detectives”. Following the Coroner’s report last week police have said they will reopen their investigations into Smith’s death.
Speaking to journalists on Friday, Chiba said that although she had not been charged or questioned over these allegations, she felt that she was now a suspect in the court of public opinion. She continued: “Up until now I’ve chosen to remain silent because I want to maintain some sense of privacy for Elliott and his family and myself in this really difficult time. But I want people to know that I’m not keeping quiet because I have anything to hide. If I was a suspect, I would have heard from the investigators, for one thing. Another is that his sister and his parents and everyone close to him knows the truth, so I’m not worried about it.”
Adding that she objected in particular to the accusation there has been a “refusal to speak with detectives” she said: “The media are just looking for some sort of sensationalistic angle that will sell their publications. In my mind, there’s no question to what happened and there’s no need to put that kind of spin on it”.