Wednesday, July 29, 2015

On the Effectiveness of Petitions

I was tweeted a very good question recently by a Cobain case supporter bearing on the impact of petitions upon the Seattle Police Department. This individual expressed the concern that the Department would not take petitions seriously and that it seemed futile therefore to submit them.

First off, this is a valid concern and I'm glad the question was asked: for twenty-one years, despite a wealth of evidence indicating a reopening of the case is required, Cobain case supporters have been met with silence and derision. This, naturally, is quite frustrating – indeed, maddening at times – and it therefore is easy to conclude that it is pointless for anyone to engage in the petition process.

My belief, however, is that petitions are important and do make a difference: they make a difference by ensuring that authorities are aware that support for a reopening of the case is alive and well and that an ever-present and growing contingent of supporters is committed to accountability; they also help in an educational and recruiting capacity, by creating additional public awareness of events bearing on Kurt's death and thereby helping to inspire others to join the cause; further, petitions are essentially permanent records which can be pointed to or cited as evidence of the public's consistent support to reopen the case; in addition, petitions help in a cumulative sense because, taken in conjunction with other efforts and strategies to reopen the case, they are a form of added pressure – and if enough of these individual components of pressure sufficiently come together then – finally – the dam will in fact give way.

There are other reasons as well as to why the petition process is valuable: anytime essentially that we are able to exercise our individual voices and free speech rights this is extremely positive – not only because it's your right and is individually empowering, but also because, as briefly noted above, it can help influence others to speak out as well.

As a general matter, one way control and power is maintained is by fostering an environment where those with legitimate grievances and concerns are left feeling disillusioned and passive. It's critical in this regard, in our endeavor to achieve a reopening of the case, that we keep speaking the truth as we have been, and asserting ourselves in those ways that make the most sense to us individually – whether by the petition process or other means of advocacy.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Why Do Narratives In Police Report Not Reveal Presence of Note Left Inside Main House by Michael "Cali" Dewitt? Grant and Carlson Left Item In Place As They Had Found It

Note left by "Cali" on staircase of main house.

As recounted in Soaked In Bleach, on the evening of April 7, one day prior to the discovery of Kurt Cobain's body, Courtney Love issued a random instruction to Dylan Carlson and Tom Grant to conduct a search for the shotgun at the couple's Seattle home. Upon entering the house, Grant and Carlson spot a note, addressed to “Kurt” and understood to have been written by Michael "Cali" Dewitt, sitting in plain view on the staircase; the note was not present at the Seattle home during Grant's and Carlson's search of the house the evening prior.

The contents of the note - which Courtney Love's attorney at the time opined were insincere and were formulated by Dewitt because he “knew that Kurt was dead” - suggested Dewitt had seen evidence of Cobain's presence at the estate and adamantly urged Kurt to contact Courtney Love.

As indicated importantly in Soaked In Bleach, and in Tom Grant's free Case Study Manual (CSM), Grant and Carlson did not take the note with them upon leaving the estate, but rather left it on the staircase where they had originally found it.

Remarkably in this regard, as pointed out in the CSM, narratives in the police report pertaining to the discovery of Cobain's body the next day (April 8), state that despite Seattle Police Department officers conducting a search of the main home “there was nothing of note discovered” and that the main home "had not been disturbed.”

"Statement of [Officer] V. Levandowski"

"Follow-Up Report"
As Tom Grant indicates, given that he and Carlson left the note in plain view the evening prior where they had originally found it, what possible reason accounts for the SPD stating they did not find it? It goes without saying that this note – touched upon only briefly in this article – is an important crime scene item, the relevance of which being all the more significant given the disputed nature of it and the large quantity of other troubling evidentiary considerations in the case.

As indicated in the CSM, the original note was returned to Tom Grant the following week by Eric Erlandson, guitarist at the time in Love's band, Hole, who stated to Grant that he obtained the note from Courtney Love.

Friday, July 10, 2015

PART 2 – April 2, 1994: An Implausible Excuse is Created that Only Increases Suspicion Upon Courtney Love

As indicated in the last article, Michael “Cali” Dewitt admitted to informing Courtney Love on April 2 that he had observed Kurt Cobain on this same day at Cobain's Lake Washington, Seattle home, yet Love failed to disclose this fact on April 3 to the private investigator, Tom Grant, she had just hired to locate Cobain.  In addition, the Missing Persons Report Love filed with the Seattle Police Department on April 4 – under the false name of Cobain's mother, Wendy O'Connor, as indicated in a recording by Grant – as well fails to disclose the location Love knew Cobain had been seen two days earlier.

It goes without saying that given Love's proclamations that Cobain was missing, suicidal and armed, and taken in conjunction with other troubling evidence in the case, that these two non-disclosures are extremely suspicious and add weight to the argument that Love's true reasons behind hiring Tom Grant and filing this Missing Persons Report were not legitimate, but rather intended to portray Love in a favorable light while also deceptively promoting the idea that Cobain was on the verge of suicide.

Love of course could potentially be given a pass with regard to these two non-disclosures if it was shown that Dewitt had in fact not informed her of his April 2 sighting of Cobain.

And this is where things get downright surreal and just plain silly.

After Tom Grant had gone public regarding Love's non-disclosure to him, the Courtney Love-friendly author of Heavier Than Heaven, writes in this book in 2001, without providing a specific source, that Dewitt failed to inform Love of his sighting of Cobain because Dewitt believed it was merely “a dream,” and thus it was not until two days later, on April 4, that he told her.  This fantastical account is also smartly pointed out in the 2004 major investigative work on Cobain's death authored by Max Wallace and Ian Halperin, and, truth be told, it's somewhat difficult to keep a straight face while writing about it here.

This is so not merely because Dewitt admitted to Tom Grant that he informed Love on April 2 of his sighting of Cobain the same day, as illustrated in Grant's free Case Study Manual; and that this admission has been corroborated by, for instance, Eric Erlandson, guitarist at this time in Love's band, Hole, as indicated by Wallace and Halperin, who had access to some of Grant's secret recordings; or that, by Love's own significant words, “[Cali will] tell me if Kurt shows up,” as again recounted by Wallace and Halperin; but also because – remarkably – the Dewitt-dreamscape-excuse collapses onto itself in a later – 2006 – account provided by Dewitt himself to Everett True - an author with close historical ties to Love - where Dewitt makes quite lucid and detailed statements about his sighting of Cobain on April 2, 1994, over a full decade earlier. 
This all, of course, is to make the obvious point that an implausible excuse has been formulated that would, if true, help to conveniently exculpate Love from suspicion regarding her troubling non-disclosures bearing on the April 2 sighting of her husband.  This is naturally relevant and valuable in an evidentiary sense because is shows an attempt to deceive and manipulate the narrative regarding a well-founded event bearing on Cobain's death.

Thankfully, such attempts are largely self-evident, and merely add to what is already a wealth of evidence readily accessible to the prosecutor who will, eventually, be assigned the honor of charging this case.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

PART 1 - April 2, 1994: Why the Sighting of Kurt Cobain on this Date Matters

A recent image of the Lake Washington, Seattle estate.
On the morning of Saturday, April 2, 1994, the day prior to Courtney Love hiring Tom Grant, Kurt Cobain is understood to have been observed at his Lake Washington, Seattle home by Michael "Cali" Dewitt.  Dewitt was a live-in nanny to Frances Bean and a former boyfriend of Courtney Love's.  As explained in Tom Grant's Case Study Manual, Dewitt revealed to Grant that he observed Cobain on the morning of April 2.  This sighting has been reported by other sources, including some seemingly loyal to Courtney Love, and is also recounted near the end of Soaked In Bleach.  It is additionally referenced in a statement given by Dewitt to the Seattle Police Department, dated April 18, 1994, which reads:  "He does not know where Kurt was after the Sat morning when he awoke to find Kurt sitting on his bed."

Most significantly, however, Courtney Love is understood to have been made aware of this sighting on the very day it occurred.  This is indicated, in part, by call records, which, as illustrated in Soaked In Bleach, show Dewitt and Love spoke to each other "eight times on April 2," and by Dewitt's own remarkable acknowledgment to Tom Grant, as explained in his Case Study Manual, that he informed Love on April 2 of this sighting.  The call records evidence as well as this admission by Dewitt in the CSM are confirmed in the major investigative work by Max Wallace and Ian Halperin, who had access to some of Tom Grant's clandestine recordings of case participants.

Given this evidence indicating that Love was aware of Dewitt's April 2 sighting of Cobain at the Seattle estate, what possible justification is there for why she withheld this information from Tom Grant the next day, on April 3?  What reason is there to not inform the private investigator she had just hired to locate her husband, to whom she claimed was missing and suicidal and in possession of a shotgun, that she in fact was told of the precise location where he had been observed?  This inconsistency is particularly troubling and it most certainly bolsters the contention that Love's true motives in hiring Tom Grant were not legitimate, but rather intended to create the false impression of care and diligence with regard to the whereabouts of her husband.

But even more shocking perhaps is the fact that the Missing Persons Report Love filed with the Seattle Police Department on April 4 - under the false name of Kurt Cobain's mother, Wendy O'Connor, as revealed in a recording by Grant - does not disclose the sighting of Cobain by Dewitt two days earlier.  Given Love's contention that Cobain was missing and suicidal, what possible reason explains the non-disclosure of this absolutely critical piece of information in the Missing Persons Report?  This inconsistency, like the one involving Grant the day prior, is again very troubling and is directly relevant with regard to what Love's true motivations were when filing this report with the Seattle Police Department.  More specifically, the nature of this report - touched upon only briefly in this article - goes directly to questions bearing on the creation of a false "suicide trail," wherein law enforcement are led astray with regard to the true nature of certain events.

In addition, it's important to look at occurrences relating to this April 2 sighting of Kurt Cobain in context with other evidence in the case:  taken in conjunction, for instance, with the various crime scene irregularities, Cobain's astronomical blood-morphine concentration (a triple lethal dose), and a large number of other suspicious occurrences involving Ms. Love - who also had clear motive based on a looming divorce and removal from Cobain's will - the significance of events relating to the April 2 sighting become very revealing.

In conclusion, Dewitt's observation of Kurt Cobain on Saturday, April 2, and the disturbing non-disclosures that followed, are extremely valuable evidentiary occurrences that will, naturally, be very important points of inquiry for any new law enforcement team that re-opens the case.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Assuming the Suicide Position: The Significance of Vernon J. Geberth's Testimony in Soaked In Bleach

The significance of Vernon J. Geberth's testimony in Soaked In Bleach really can't be understated.

As his biography indicates, Mr. Geberth “is a retired Lieutenant-Commander of the New York City Police Department with over 40 years of law enforcement experience.  He retired as the Commanding Officer of the Bronx Homicide Task Force, which handled over 400 murder investigations a year.”  In addition:  “He has personally investigated, supervised, assessed and consulted on over eight thousand death investigations” and served as a Homicide Instructor for the Police Training Division of the New York Office of the FBI.  He is also the author of Practical Homicide Investigation, which is recognized as the leading Homicide investigation textbook and is otherwise known as “The Bible of Homicide Investigation.”

Given this background and experience – and this is only a portion of it – there can be no doubt as to the credibility and significance of his claim in Soaked In Bleach that the Seattle Police Department “assumed the suicide position,” which means that a determination of suicide was made prior to any meaningful review of the evidence.  As Commander Geberth explains in the film:  “As a homicide commander, I would not be making any proclamations that the case was a suicide without the evidence having been processed, [such as] the victimology, the medicolegal process, [and] toxicology.  It's a death investigation.”  He continues adamantly:  “The reason we call things death investigations is that we don't want to prematurely make them homicides, suicides, or accidents.  It's a death investigation.

Commander Geberth's point, of course, is backed up succinctly in the film by Dr. Cyril Wecht, a leading forensic expert and former President of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, who passionately emphasizes:  “They knew nothing about the drug level; they knew nothing about fingerprints; they knew nothing about anything else at that time except that they had found him with a shotgun.”

In sum, Commander Geberth's assertion that the Seattle Police Department “assumed the suicide position” is a devastating charge, as it means the investigation into Kurt Cobain's death was corrupted from the outset.  And as a consequence, various and vital pieces of evidence were discarded and/or destroyed, such as the deceased, who was permitted to be cremated less than a week after being discovered.

This “assumption of suicide” and the Departmental shame associated with it is essentially why there has been a twenty-one year public battle wrought with disinformation and ongoing attempts to thwart a re-opening of the case.  It is the reason that the Seattle Police Department insincerely reaffirmed its suicide verdict in 2014 and why certain media spectacles are concocted.  And, worst of all, it's the reason why there have been so many kids that have taken their lives under the misinformed impression that that's what their hero did.

The sooner a re-investigation is commenced by an impartial team of professionals, the sooner we can move on from the past and really begin, in full, to celebrate the life of Kurt Cobain.  For as Norm Stamper concludes:  “It's about right and wrong.  It's about honor. It's about ethics.”