More than eight years after the death of indie-rock troubadour Elliott Smith, sticky questions linger as to what happened in his Echo Park home on Oct. 21, 2003. Smith expired from two stab wounds to the chest following an argument with his live-in girlfriend, Jennifer Chiba.
Though the media initially reported that Smith committed suicide, the Los Angeles Department of Coroner, following its investigation, declined to rule on the mode of death. The report cited multiple factors for the ruling, including Chiba's subsequent refusal to speak with police as well as potential defensive wounds on Smith's left hand and right arm. It was also reported that during her initial interview with police, Chiba pointed to a Post-It note that read, “I'm so sorry–love, Elliott God Forgive me.”
Almost a decade after the fact, the mode of death remains undetermined, and if the LAPD has made any significant gains in its investigation, it's not sharing anything with the public.
One example of these incongruencies includes a 2004 quote from Chiba in Spin: “I hope that someday people will see that [Elliott] had cleaned up. The toxicology report shows that he was clean of any illicit substances. That had been true of the whole past year. That's not to say he hadn't been abusing some of his prescription drugs, but in the last two months, I can honestly say that we were in the healthiest shape that either of us had ever been.” Years later, in Reyes' documentary, Chiba talks about the difficulty Smith had with simple tasks such as getting a glass of water for himself, saying, “I essentially took care of him for the last year of his life.”