Kurt Cobain photos reveal needles, undeveloped film

(USA TODAY) -- As the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death approaches, interest surrounding his suicide surged when a detective discovered several rolls of undeveloped film that were taken from the scene. Late Thursday night, the photos revealed a box with a spoon and needles, next to half a cigarette and sunglasses. The other photo showed cash, a cigarette pack and a wallet with what looks like Cobain's ID next to the closed box.

While conspiracy theories have been circling for years that Cobain was murdered, Seattle police insist that there are no new developments and the case remains closed.

"There was nothing earth-shattering in any of these images," police spokeswoman Renee Witt said.

Detective Mike Ciesynski, who found the four rolls of crime-scene photos, said in a statement on the Seattle Police Department's online blotter that conspiracy theories are "completely inaccurate. It's a suicide. This is a closed case."

The only reason Ciesynski revisited the case was to refresh himself of the details in anticipation of questions that will arise in the coming weeks. "There's still a lot of interest in this case," Witt said.

Cobain's body was discovered in Seattle on April 8, 1994. An investigation determined that days earlier Cobain had gone into the greenhouse of his large home and taken a massive dose of heroin. He then shot himself with a 20-gauge shotgun.

Earlier that year, Cobain had tried to kill himself in Rome by taking an overdose of tranquilizers. When his daughter Frances Bean was born, he learned Child Protective Services were concerned about her well-being because of his and wife Courtney Love's drug abuse. He went to the hospital with one of the many guns he owned, and threatened to kill himself and his wife.

Charles R. Cross, who wrote the 2001 definitive biography of Cobain, Heavier Then Heaven, recently released his views of the doomed star's life and the impact of his death in his new book, Here We Are Now, is equally adamant that conspiracy theories are unfounded. "He made suicide attempts long before Courtney even came into the picture," Cross told USA TODAY. "There were also the reckless drug overdoses, of which there were many; they show a reckless disregard for living. Maybe Kurt never had a chance.' Suicide and depression ran in his family as well. Two of his uncles committed suicide and his great-grandfather killed himself in front of his own family.

"How a person who repeatedly tried to commit suicide over the years then gets murdered makes no sense," he says.

When Cobain died, he was 27, making him a member of the grisly 27 Club, comprised of other promising musicians: Amy Winehouse, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, who was also from Seattle, Janis Joplin and Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones.

When Nirvana skyrocketed to fame after the release of Nevermind, Cobain became the unwitting leader of the grunge scene, altering Seattle's cultural identity forever. He also became the image of suicide and drug addiction.

But his impact continues through the decades, not just in music, but fashion, too. Ironically, his torn-up jeans and flannel shirts showed up on runways, selling for hundreds of dollars. Cobain, who didn't escape poverty until the last two years of his life, wore those clothes because those were his choices at garage sales and thrift shops. He'd often wear the same clothes for days.

Cross also addresses the impact of Cobain's drug addiction in the music industry. Before Cobain's death, record labels simply contained their artists with addictions by keeping them supplied with drugs. Since then, labels and managers have taken proactive steps to help the talent by bringing sober coaches on the road as well as cordoning off drug-free zones backstage. Cross also says that the year following his death saw a decline in suicides in the region.

Cobain grew up in an economically depressed town with a high suicide rate, Aberdeen, Wash., about two hours southwest of Seattle. He and his family always struggled financially, but after his parents divorced when he was a teenager, he became estranged, and survived by sleeping on friends' couches.

After he died thousands of young people converged on Seattle Center, near the Space Needle, for a public memorial. In his hometown, Feb. 20 was declared Kurt Cobain Day in 2005 and recently revealed a weeping statue of the doomed singer. His childhood home may also become a museum. Nirvana will also take its place in the Rock Hall of Fame next month.

Contributing: Associated Press


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