Death of Kurt Cobain: detective who reviewed the documents of the case of the singer of Nirvana


Now retired Seattle police detective Mike Ciesynski was assigned to the homicide unit for 22 years, including 12 in the cold case unit. Ciesynski was asked to review the Kurt Cobain case in 2014. On the 25th anniversary of Cobain's death, Ciesynski shares what he has found.

Kurt Cobain

Courtesy of Mary Lou Lord

When the public information sergeant called me to his office in 2014, I thought he would ask if I would be willing to talk to a writer who wanted to talk about one of the serial murder cases I worked in.

Instead, the sergeant greeted me with a funny smile: "Hey Mike, the boss would like you to take a look at the Kurt Cobain suicide and your thoughts, "he said." April 5 will be exactly 20 years, which is why the boss thinks it would be a good idea to take a look at this as we are starting to get media inquiries ".

I told him I had no thoughts, since it happened right before I came to the murder. But that was the task.

I had no involvement in the original investigation other than taking a registered statement two years after Cobain's death. I also knew that a couple of 35mm film rolls, photos of backup evidence from the scene of death, were never processed.

So, I ordered the file of the case from our registry, closed the door of my private office and read the entire file for the first time.

It was out of the ordinary – but it was not unheard of – that the cold case investigators should take a look at the resolved cases.

This April 1994 photo provided by the Seattle Police Department shows objects found at Kurt Cobain's suicide scene in Seattle. The film was not developed until 2014.


One of the holders of the original case, Steve Kirkland, had disappeared, as was stage sergeant Don Cameron. Steve and his partner Jim Yoshida were the best homicide detectives in the unit. Jim was retired, so I called him and told him what I was doing. Jim told me that Courtney Love was very cooperative during the investigation and that they had spent a lot of time on the case.

I asked Jim that he had made the decision not to develop the whole film. He said it was Cameron's call not to develop the film and put it in the safe with the case file so nobody would scroll. Obviously, the media attention was turning a little paranoid a bit. of people.

The dott. Nikolas Hartshome was the medical examiner who led the autopsy. Nick was a good man who passed away in 2002. When I received the autopsy report, I remembered leaning back in my chair and giving a "whoa" after seeing the morphine level Kurt had it in his system. He also showed signs of track and in his kit were several grams of black tar heroin. The black tar heroine is found on the west coast west of the Mississippi compared to the brown or white heroine found in the eastern part of the United States.

I knew I had to develop the film. The criminal lab supervisor grimaced when I explained that he was 20 years old. The film deteriorates over the years and becomes very fragile – something I know from working on old cases of cold – and I wasn't going to let the movie end up on my watch. We should bring the film to the sheriff's photographic unit since the Seattle police department stopped developing 35mm films from the transition to digital. Once developed, it was obvious that the film had deteriorated, leaving a green tint to all photos.

The note retrieved from the scene was examined by a forensic document examiner from the Washington State Patrol who concluded that the note had been written by Cobain. Detective Kirkland and Yoshida had met Kurt's mother, Wendy O & Connor, and showed her the ticket. He said he believed the note had been written by Cobain.

A 2014 photograph of Seattle police detective says that rock legend Kurt Cobain used to kill himself. Det. Mike Cieysinski is depicted holding the rifle

Seattle police

I also decided to take a look at the gun. Some conspiracy theorists had suggested that the Seattle police department had turned the rifle on Courtney Love or had it destroyed. When the rusted weapon was brought to me and after inspecting it, I had a warehouse worker photograph me holding the weapon.

Did I find any shocking evidence that would have changed the coroner's conclusion that Kurt committed suicide? No. In fact, I found evidence that strengthened this discovery.

I found the receipt of the shells purchased from a Seattle Gun store that corresponded to the time and place where a Seattle taxi driver said he dropped a Cobain matching male description after he was picked up from the residence of Cobain. Also, when I had questions about the placement of the rifle found in Cobain's hand and the position of the shell, I interviewed an experienced arms owner who explained the dynamics of what probably happened.

Why does a millionaire musician with a bright future of unlimited potential take his own life? I wish I could ask everyone else who did that they seemed outwardly "good". "He or she would never commit suicide," is one of the most common things we hear when working on a case that turns out to be suicide.

It has been my experience as a homicide detective that depression is the most common underlying reason that people commit suicide.

Mike Ciesynski retired from the Seattle police department in 2017 after serving 37 years. Mike was assigned to the homicide unit for 22 years, including 12 in the cold unit. After retiring, Mike wrote his first book about the first serial murder case he worked on, about a killer known as "Chilly Willy" who was the first serial killer ever accused in Seattle. The next published book talks about the murders of three women in an area known as "The Jungle".



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.