Who Killed Kurt Cobain?


[Editor’s Note: The following post is by TDV head researcher, Justin O’Connell]


Saturday April 5th, 2014, will mark the twentieth anniversary of the death of Kurt Cobain, perhaps the last true rock star. By the time Kurt had become an American icon in 1991, he was thinking of leaving the limelight and expatriating. He liked how other cultures didn’t ask him for autographs like Americans did. The tabloid nature of media in the US, also, was too much for him.

His band had changed music’s culture. Punk rock went mainstream when Nirvana went mainstream. In the band’s video for their seminal hit “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” cheerleaders wear uniforms with the Anarchy “A” symbol on them. And this video was in constant rotation on MTV and around the world.

The events surrounding his death are murky. What most people don’t know is there were two investigations of his reported ‘suicide.’ One by the Seattle Police Department, and one by the free market. Can you guess which one has been more fruitful? If you read this article, and delve a bit deeper, you’ll find out the answer to that question.

Kurt left a drug rehab center in Marina Del Rey California on April 1st, 1994. He was reported missing not long after, only to be found dead seven days later, on April 8th.

Tom Grant is a California state licensed private investigator and former detective with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He was hired April 3rd, 1994, by Courtney Love to locate Kurt. While Tom went to Seattle to find Kurt, Courtney stayed in Los Angeles. From the moment Tom met Courtney, he began recording all of their conversations. Something seemed off about her to Tom. The very first thing she told him was a lie. (Tom had no idea who Courtney Love or Kurt Cobain were when he was hired.)

Although the police immediately concluded “suicide”, Grant wasn’t so sure. He had been searching for Kurt Cobain for five days at this point, and had investigated the circumstances surrounding him in detail by that time. Tom Grant learned quickly after Kurt’s death that Rosemary Carroll, Courtney Love and Kurt’s own entertainment attorney, also did not buy the suicide theory. Not only did Courtney Love’s own private investigator conclude Courtney was implicated in the murder of Kurt, but so too had her own attorney, though the latter has done a good job of keeping her mouth shut after some initial recorded skepticism.

From the very beginning Tom recognized Courtney was a habitual liar. After several months of intensive investigation, Tom concluded that Courtney Love and Michael Dewitt, the Cobain’s live-in male nanny, who Courtney had known personally for some time, were involved in a conspiracy that resulted in Kurt’s murder. Tom wasn’t positive at first. He figured Kurt had probably killed himself, but he couldn’t help notice things didn’t make sense, and that the Seattle Police Department’s investigation was lackluster at best.

Seven months after Kurt’s death, Tom was finally willing to speak out publicly. He believed he had investigated thoroughly enough. It took Tom seven months to conclude there had been a “conspiracy.” The police concluded suicide after five minutes. What did Tom have to gain by speaking the truth? Not much. He was accusing his own client of murder. He could have gone to jail for doing that, not to mention the lawsuits, and the fate of his own PI firm. Ultimately, he chose to speak out, and thanks to him a trove of information has been made available. Many years later, it came out that this wasn’t the first attempt on Cobain’s life. It was merely the first to succeed.

The fact is Kurt was looking to divorce Courtney and to leave Seattle. He mentioned in interviews he wanted to expatriate, he simply “didn’t want to live in the United States.” He had begun the process to change his will as he wanted Courtney taken out, and Courtney had called their attorney and asked her to find the “meanest, most vicious divorce attorney around.”

Tom points to numerous unanswered questions, such as who was using Kurt’s credit card after he is known to have been dead? Someone was attempting to use it, but these attempts stopped when the body was found. The police also claim there were no legible fingerprints on the shotgun found on scene! In fact, the Seattle Police Department did not even check the gun until May 6th, one month after Kurt was found. How’s that for shoddy police work?

“Any publicity is good publicity,” Courtney told Tom, before Kurt had even been found, as she trumpeted over-and-over again how suicidal Kurt was. In his investigation, Tom would find Courtney was really the only one who seemed to think Kurt was suicidal. Even Kurt’s own best friend, before Kurt’s body was found, told Tom Kurt was in good spirits. Tom found it suspicious how obsessed Courtney was with her own career in the days and weeks around Kurt’s death, and how she was the only one parading how suicidal Kurt was.

The police immediately determined the note was a “suicide note” written to Courtney and Kurt’s daughter, Frances Bean. But the note was not addressed to Kurt’s wife and daughter, nor does it say anything about “killing himself”. The note is clearly written to Cobain’s fans about his quitting the music business.

In fact, it later came out in an interview that Courtney had kept a second note private. It is a crime, mind you, to keep evidence from police. (She read the public “suicide” note aloud to adoring fans over radio) She didn’t tell anyone about the second note until it slipped out in a Rolling Stone interview, which Tom read as part of his investigation of her. The second note clearly defines the first note. Kurt’s leaving Seattle and the music business. There’s no mention in either that he is leaving the planet. The public suicide note reads suspiciously, as it appears there are two different handwritings. Handwriting experts say that it is inconclusive if Kurt wrote the entire note. If you look at the bottom of the note below, you’ll see the section in question.

Moreover, Cobain was injected with three times the lethal dose of heroin. Tom Grant wonders, IF Cobain injected three times the lethal dose of heroin, COULD he then pick up a shotgun and shoot himself? He also notes most heroin addicts agree: they wouldn’t kill themselves while they were riding a high. It would be too euphoric.

As Tom Grant writes on his website:

“THE FACT IS… The police and the Medical Examiner have no forensic evidence that proves Cobain’s death was a suicide. On the other hand, there’s a substantial amount of evidence for murder.”

Almost immediately after Kurt’s death, Tom spoke with Courtney’s entertainment lawyer, Rosemary Carroll, who indicated that she was suspicious about Courtney’s involvement in Kurt’s death. “He wasn’t suicidal, Tom. Kurt wasn’t suicidal!” Rosemary blurted with a deep sigh to Tom. Rosemary was also disturbed that Courtney wouldn’t let her or anyone else see the so-called “suicide note.” Tom mentioned to Rosemary that Courtney couldn’t come to Seattle to find her husband because she “had business in LA.”

“She didn’t have any business in LA!” Rosemary snapped. On April 15th Tom met with the police, one week after Cobain’s body was found. He brought up his numerous concerns:

“Numerous inconsistencies and contradictions in logic…

The missing credit card and continued activity on the card after Kurt’s death…

The fact that Courtney specifically told Dylan (Kurt’s best friend) to check the greenhouse where Kurt’s body was found and yet he didn’t even tell Tom about the greenhouse when they visited the Cobain home the night before Kurt was found…

Doubts about Kurt’s handwriting on the so-called “suicide note,” especially the bottom portion…

The electrician’s statement (person who found the body) about Kurt’s hair appearing to have been combed…

Courtney’s motives for possible involvement in Cobain’s death?…

She’d get more money from a suicide than from a divorce. With a suicide, Courtney would inherit and control the entire Cobain and Nirvana estate. If Kurt divorced her, she’d have to settle for half, at best, of Kurt’s assets…

Kurt’s record sales would increase, leaving Courtney with even more income…

And finally, based on what I’d learned about her personality, Kurt’s death and the publicity it generated would help Courtney launch her own career.”

Tom continued his investigation. He studied media material and found lots of planted stories and misinformation. As Tom writes, “One story had Courtney grieving at home, while she was actually calling me from Canyon Ranch in Arizona and bragging to me that she was sleeping with Billy Corgan. This was only three weeks after Kurt died!” Tom eventually sent Courtney a letter indicating his suspicions about Kurt’s death.

“Dear Courtney,

I’m sure you know by now that my investigation has been somewhat more active than you might have been aware of. The purpose of this letter is to clarify my position regarding our working relationship.

You may recall our trip to Carnation on Thursday, April 14th. I mentioned during the drive that I was beginning to turn over some “rocks” that I wasn’t sure you’d want turned over. I asked you if you wanted me to continue digging. Kat, who was in the back seat, said, “Oh yeah, she wants to know everything.” You responded, “Yeah Tom, do what ever it takes. I want to know everything that happened.” Your instructions were clear, so in the days and weeks that followed, I proceeded to “do whatever it takes.”

As the investigation continued, my attempts to get at the truth often seemed to be deliberately hindered. While reading some of the articles being written in newspapers and magazines, I discovered the information being released to the press was inaccurate and often cleverly misleading.

I consider the circumstances surrounding your husband’s death to be highly suspicious. My investigation has exposed a number of inconsistencies in the facts of this case as well as many contradictions in sound logic and common sense. I’m required to report findings such as these to the police, so on Friday, April 15th, I spoke with Sgt. Cameron about some of what I’ve learned so far.

As I’ve experienced in past cases, police detectives don’t often welcome the work of outside investigators. I’ve learned it’s somewhat idealistic and naive to think the truth might be more important than professional pride.

I’ve decided to continue working on this case until I see it to its conclusion, without additional charge. Attached you will find an invoice which accounts for the charges billed for our services, including time and expenses. As you can see, prior to my return to Seattle on April 13th, these charges exceeded the retainer amount. However, please consider your bill paid in full. There will be no further charges.

As I pursue the truth regarding the events surrounding your husband’s death, your cooperation and assistance will be appreciated, but not required.


Tom Grant


From there it only gets more interesting. Courtney kept Tom Grant on her payroll, giving her meaningless assignments for him to pursue. As soon as he finished one, she’d give him another. The live-in nanny, Michael DeWitt, whom Tom implicates in Kurt’s death, has never been available for an interview, even though both Michael and Tom live in LA. Tom has tried to interview Michael, the only person at the Cobain home around the time of Kurt’s death, to no avail. Moreover, Michael received $30,000 from Courtney in the weeks after Kurt’s death “to go to rehab.” Tom couldn’t help but wonder if this was the payoff.

The April 1996 edition of High Times featured an article entitled “Who Killed Kurt Cobain?”. In it, the views of a character named “El Duce” are made public. El Duce played in the Los Angeles punk scene. He met Courtney Love in the late 1980s. In the article, El Duce claimed that in December 1993, Courtney Love offered El Duce $50,000 to murder Kurt. The manager of the shop, where the conversation took place, remembers overhearing Courtney ask El Duce, “Can you handle doing this? Can you get this done? What do you want for it?”

In March 1994, according to the manager, Courtney contacted the shop asking for El Duce, who was out on tour at the time. Courtney was furious. “That son of a bitch, we made an agreement. What am I going to do?” The manager went on to say after Kurt was found dead about 10 days later: “I was like Whoa! I wonder if she actually did pay some sucker to blow off his head”? El Duce said: “Maybe she got somebody else. I think Kurt was getting ready to divorce her for adultery charges. She had to have him whacked right away so she could get the money.”

Tom Grant was skeptical of El Duce’s claims. He said: “Why didn’t they come forward sooner? At first I thought maybe Courtney put them up to it to set me up. I could start talking about these guys as proof and then they would come out and say they made the whole story up. I would then be discredited.”

On March 6th 1996, however, El Duce underwent and passed a lie detector test administered by Dr. E. Gelb a leading polygraph examiner, who trains the FBI in polygraph. He administered a polygraph test to O.J. Simpson two days after the murder of his wife and said that O.J. failed the test quite badly. According to Dr. Gelb, El Duce’s story is completely truthful.

In reply to the question, “Did Courtney Love ask you to kill Kurt Cobain?” Duce’s positive response showed a 99.91% certainty that he was being truthful, which falls into the category “beyond possibility of deception”. Duce also scores the same when the question was repeated. When asked the question “Were you offered $50,000 by Courtney Love to kill Kurt Cobain?” Duce scored a slightly worse 99.84%.

Following these tests Duce contacted the Seattle Police Departments Homicide division and also the Los Angeles Police Dept. He and the record shop owner have offered to take similar tests for the police, but both departments have declined to investigate. Of course, Tom Grant, the private sector hero in all of this, did investigate. However, about a week after El Duce did an interview with BBC, he was killed by a train in Riverside, LA. The events surrounding his death are murky.

Music journalist and friend of Duce, Al Bowman said: “There is something very, very strange about his death. Anybody who knew El knew that you could make friends with him by offering to buy him a drink. He had a problem with alcohol.” When asked if he thought El Duce committed suicide: “No way. He was all excited about his upcoming tour. He was in good spirits. He didn’t kill himself. I’m convinced this has something to do with Kurt Cobain.”

The fact of the matter is this. There are myriad more details about the death surrounding the US’s last great rock star than public police officers would like you to believe. And this means that a psychopathic murderer has been an American celebrity for the last twenty years (surprised? shouldn’t be…) Instead, the private investigator hired by Courtney Love ultimately concluded just months after Kurt’s death that Courtney and the Cobain’s live-in nanny had conspired to murder Kurt Cobain.

He pledged to continue the investigation and let his doubts be known. Why? Because, as a grandfather, Tom couldn’t stand the realities of the nearly more than 60 confirmed “copycat” suicides. He didn’t want to do it, he “just had to.”In fact, Tom has noted how embarrassed he is that THIS is how he gained notoriety. He wished it was because he was a professional athlete or something else instead.

The public police officers, on the other hand, have no reason to solve the crime. Their jobs are safe. Apparently they also have no moral motivation to do so either. As Tom notes in an interview, oftentimes after prisoners on death row are acquitted based on DNA evidence, the original police investigators stick by their guns: their conclusion was right. “It’s just politics,” Tom says.

Why does this matter? Well, it is pretty obvious the police didn’t even really investigate this death, and it is quite obvious there are gaping holes in the official narrative of Kurt’s “suicide.” Tom Grant doesn’t argue for a coverup within the Seattle Police Department, though he does note that Courtney Love was friends with the coroner at the time in Seattle. About two weeks ago, leading up to the twentieth anniversary of Kurt’s death, the Seattle Police “re-examined” the Kurt Cobain case and ruled there was “no new evidence,” which is essentially a lie, since there is new evidence since the case was originally closed, uncovered by the free market. I imagine SPD did this in order to steer the dialogue away from Tom Grant’s narrative. The police department says once-a-week they receive a request to re-open the investigation.

One argument for a large government is so the police can keep us safe, but as this story uncovers, the police fail to do so, allowing possible murderers continue living their lives unhindered. The free market, in this case Tom Grant’s PI Firm, has alternatively sought justice, and the investigation continues to this day. Here is an interview with Tom:

Justin O’Connell is the Head Researcher at Dollar Vigilante, author of the first full-length bitcoin book, Bitcoinomics, as well as a co-host at Our Very Own Special Show, a lifestyle podcast about music, news, life and other topics. While in boy scouts as a young boy, Justin was introduced to punk rock. Since his father, a police officer, would not let him listen to rap, he gravitated towards bands like Bad Religion, Anti-Flag and numerous anti-authoritarian bands. Justin’s worldview evolved into that of a “naturalist,” and he began seeking enlightenment in the natural world. When studying history at college in Portland, Ore., Justin focused on totalitarian societies such as, Soviet Union, Nazi Germany & the German Democratic Republic. Justin has numerous full length books coming out in 2014, including Change Of Ideas: Bad Religion In The New America, as well as an EP with his band Fencesitter.


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