The Washington Post

No, Seattle police aren’t reopening the Kurt Cobain case

Kurt Cobain, lead singer of Nirvana, died in April 1994 at age 27. (AP Photo)

The news from Seattle came online and spread quickly on Thursday: Seattle police were going to reopen the investigation into musician Kurt Cobain’s death! One small thing: It’s not actually true.

It all started with this report from KIRO 7, a local channel in Seattle, stating that police there “have reexamined the case.” KIRO 7 — reminding readers to tune in to the news tonight at 11 to learn more — noted that police recently developed rolls of film having to do with the case that had been sitting in a police evidence vault.

KIRO staff members pumped up the report on Twitter by saying only that the network learned the case had been reopened. (UPDATE – 3:10 P.M.: The managing editor of KIRO 7 said on Twitter that the detective on the case told KIRO he had reopened it.)

That made its way to Gawker (with a post headlined “Seattle Police Reopening Investigation Into Kurt Cobain’s Death”), Fox News (headline: “Kurt Cobain death investigation reopened, report says”) and many, many tweets.

Alas, it’s not really happening.

“No, we have not reopened the Kurt Cobain case,” Detective Renee Witt, a police spokeswoman, told The Washington Post on Thursday afternoon.

A cold case detective was going through the details of the Cobain files again because the 20th anniversary of Cobain’s death, which was ruled a suicide, is next month, Witt said. This detective found some old and undeveloped film, which provided better-quality photos of images already out there, Witt says. (The department may release the photos on its blog.)

But that’s it. “No change, no developments, no new leads,” she said. Any reports suggesting that the case was reopened are “very very incorrect,” Witt said.

The Gawker item was updated at around 2:30 p.m. to reflect that the case was reexamined, not reopened, after the Seattle Times spoke with Witt. The Fox News item remained unchanged at the time of this posting.

This post has been updated to include the note from KIRO’s managing editor and to fix a typo, because of course there was a typo.



Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and stories from around the country.



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