I am not sure I truly believe a petition on Change.org can dramatically change a situation – even the 134,000 people who have signed the Glastonbury petition didn’t manage to stop Kanye West performance – but I am talking about something much more serious here: the investigation into the death of singer songwriter Elliott Smith. It is not acceptable that we don’t have an answer from the LAPD after more than 11 years. Elliott Smith died in 2003 and the case has since been left open by the police, the investigation is in limbo and the homicide detectives who have successively been in charge of the case, have basically been waiting for new information to come to them, without actively investigating.
At worst, this petition will be an outlet for our collective frustration, at best, who knows, it may reach a good number of signatures and attract the media’s attention on a case that has been forgotten for too long. I hate unsolved situations and whatever the answer is, suicide or murder, murder or suicide, the police owe us to close this case.
Here are the details of the petition addressed to LAPD Homicide detective Jay King:
We request the LAPD to either close the Elliott Smith murder inquiry or resuscitate it after more than 11 years of negligence.
On October 21st 2003, Elliott Smith died of two stab wounds at the Echo Park home he shared with his girlfriend Jennifer Chiba.
That day, the couple had a heated argument, then Jennifer Chiba locked herself in the bathroom. When she opened the door (upon hearing a scream/noise) she found him standing with the knife planted in his chest. She pulled the knife out and saw “two cuts” before he walked away and collapsed a little bit further.
She called 911 at 12:18 p.m and performed CPR and first aid until paramedics arrived. Smith was transported to County-USC Medical Center and he died at 1:36 pm of exsanguination.
Jennifer Chiba told the police it was a suicide, and provided pages of his personal journal as a proof he had a suicidal ideation. The police interrogated her at the scene but she took a lawyer in the following days, and refused to talk further.
Because of the results of the autopsy revealing a series of atypical findings for a suicide by stabbing – two deep stab wounds done through the clothing, the absence of hesitation marks and the presence of two small fresh cuts on the right arm and left palm that could be interpreted as defense wounds – the police left the case open. No traces of illegal substances or alcohol were found in Smith’s system.
Jennifer Chiba also gave to the police an alleged suicide note written on a post it note, that says ‘I’m so sorry—love, Elliott. God forgive me’. No fingerprints were identifiable on the knife and the police kept the note, the knife and other evidence but they don’t seem to pursue any investigation.
Deputy Medical Examiner Lisa Scheinin who performed the autopsy wrote:
‘The cause of death is stab wounds of the chest. Each stab wound is considered fatal per se, Since each entered the chest cavity; additionally there is a perforation wound to the heart associated with stab wound #2. Toxicology tests revealed no illicit substances. All medications were therapeutic or subtherapeutic.
The mode of death is undetermined at this time. While his history of depression is compatible with suicide, and the location and direction of the stab wounds are consistent with self-infliction, several aspects of the circumstances (as are known at this time) are atypical of suicide and raise the possibility of homicide. These include the absence of hesitation wounds, stabbing through clothing, and the presence of small incised wounds on the right arm and left hand (possible defensive wounds). Additionally, the girlfriend’s reported removal of the knife and subsequent refusal to speak with detectives are all of concern. Since a complete knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the stabbing is lacking, the mode will remain undetermined until such time as sufficient additional information becomes available.’