Twelve years ago today, the music world lost one of its brightest and most emotive voices under circumstances that are, to this day, still reported as a suicide despite much evidence to the contrary.
Yes, Smith had a history of chemical abuse and threats of suicide, but how many among us have uttered words in the heat of the moment that we never intend to follow through on? What we do know about the events leading up to his death is that he'd had an argument with his live-in girlfriend Jennifer Chiba and that, not long after, he was found with two stab wounds to the heart.
What makes the circumstances of his death sketchy at best is that there were two stab wounds to the heart, not just one. Also, there were no hesitation marks two smaller wounds on his arm and palm consistent with defensive wounds, and the fact that he'd been stabbed through his clothing. Keep in mind that Chiba, herself, claimed in Gil Reyes' documentary Searching For Elliott Smith that the singer/songwriter needed help getting a glass of water for himself. Says Chiba, "I essentially took care of him for the last year of his life." Does this sound like a man who could then plunge a 5" knife into his chest through clothing and all?
A year later, the coroner's report was released to the public via The Smoking Gun and, once again, public scrutiny of Chiba's actions was renewed, to which she responded "“I felt Elliott’s privacy and dignity in being able to die were violated," which, when you think about it, is a weird thing to say. "privacy in dignity in being able to die? Sounds like PR-speak for "I don't like all this attention being focused on me."
Keep in mind, this is the same person who claims in Gil Reyes' documentary on Smith
Chiba would go on to sue Smith's parents for 15% of his estate's income, claiming that Smith had told her he would support her for the rest of her life and that she had been Smith's manager and agent at the time of his death, but the case was dismissed on the grounds that Chiba had not been a legally-registered agent in the State of California.
Sadly, Smith's case remains open, but inactive. Journalist Alyson Camus started a petition on Change.org asking the LAPD to either re-open the case or to once-and-for all close the case and rule it a suicide. If you feel that the least Smith deserves is the dignity of a full investigation into his death, we at The Shit urge you to sign the petition.
After all, when you consider the fact that Smith had been clean in the days leading up to his death and that no drugs or alcohol were found at the scene, it's easy to see that Smith's best days, musically and personally, were ahead of him. To consider all the great music that he never got to create and we never got to hear is to feel the sadness of his untimely passing all over again.