A Musician, Friend Of Elliott Smith, Speaks About Jennifer Chiba’s Behavior

Written by | December 28, 2015 6:50 am | 25 responses

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One of the main problems when investigating the Elliott Smith’s case is the small amount of people willing to speak to me and the even slimmer number of people willing to go on the record…

But when someone speaks to me, whether this person wants to stay anonymous of not, I am all ears…. And I report when the person is in agreement with it. I know that some readers have heavily criticized that kind of reporting in the past, saying it is just hearsay… but what’s the difference between me saying ‘a source close to Elliott, or a friend told me this’, and W. T. Schultz writing basically the same thing in this book ‘Torment Saint’. He also doesn’t always name his sources (for examples: ‘According to two different people I spoke with who were at the gig and deeply in the know’, page 15,… ‘One night he actually dreamed of Courtney Love, according to a different friend’, page 3… ‘In fact, according to another close friend, Smith was obsessed’, page 14). Are people more willing to trust him because it is printed in a book? It is ridiculous, and a lot of his named sources can also be considered as hearsay, there is simply no difference, and I can also prove any conversation I report about, effectively took place, if needed.

I got in contact with a musician who knew Elliott and Jennifer Chiba and this person wanted to let me know about a few things. She was around the California music scene at the time, although she has now moved to another state… She even knew Elliott when he was younger as she was living in Portland when she was young. This person was around and one of the most important things she told me regards Jennifer Chiba’s restless behavior. She is certain that Chiba was not ready to quit partying and give up on drugs, when we know that Elliott was ready to change his life after the painful treatment at the weird Beverly Hills clinic, the Neurotransmitter Restoration Center. According to this musician, Chiba was still doing alcohol and drugs (‘booze and speed’) and this is actually totally compatible with what we already know, as we have the formal proof that Chiba had received a DUI on August 30th 2003…

‘Jennifer Chiba has a long history of volatile relationships, and excess partying’ the musician told me, and she even suggested to me that Chiba may have been drunk or high on October 21st. But if it was the case, how could the police have missed that? Why didn’t they test her if she looked drunk or high? But did she? Was it negligence or laziness? Or is Chiba really a good actress as this person told me? There is a solid rumor Chiba waited some time before calling 911… did she do that to let the effect of her high dissipate a bit? At this point, any speculation is possible but you have to wonder if she really took a shower (to come down?) as it was sometimes reported.

It would be easy to dismiss a person telling you something bad about another person, but the problem is that this musician is the umpteenth person to tell me about Chiba’s erratic and violent temper… should I sum up once again all the stories?

– A sound engineer told us that, back in 2002, when he was working on a project for Andrew Morgan at Elliott’s New Monkey studio, he got the surprise to see Elliott disappear for 2 to 3 days. When he resurfaced, he said he had a fight with his girlfriend (Jennifer Chiba) and told ‘the story about how she chased him around with a knife during an argument




.’

– An Elliott Smith’s female fan had the misadventure to be befriended by Jennifer Chiba after Elliott’s death. She even stayed at her place in LA and soon discovered that Chiba was sleeping with her model boyfriend when she was away. The fan nevertheless kept in touch with her ex, and he told her about his rocky relationship with Chiba. This is what she wrote: ‘he would tell me stories about how she would get drunk and scream at him and throw bottles and glasses and threaten to kill herself. This was like a weekly occurrence and he didn’t realize what he’d gotten himself into. He was scared a lot of the time and she made him feel guilty like it was his fault. She was so manipulative.’ […] ‘She got drunk and crazy a lot, he said.’

– I also communicated with a musician who has now moved out of state but was around the Silverlake scene in 2003. He told me that some musicians witnessed domestic abuse, and discussed about it: ‘It wasn’t too long after Elliott died and he said “That bitch was getting physical with him in fights.” And somebody else said something about it and he said “Seriously! She was like a domestic abuser!” And then maybe a couple of years later, 2006-ish, I heard someone say that he had witnessed her hit him once. I don’t know how serious it was, I just overheard it at a party and logged it mentally’

– And there is Caroline, ex-owner of the recording studio, which shared the same building that Elliott’s New Monkey studio. She was visibly terrified of Jennifer Chiba and felt compelled to write long posts to tell her story, and her encounter with the woman whom she called ‘the force’… you actually can read everything she wrote in November 2003 here. If she didn’t really witness real violence, her melodramatic description of Chiba is quite interesting: ‘There was a dark force in Elliott’s life and it wasn’t him, drugs or depression, as far as I could tell. But this is only my perspective so I could be wrong. It even had a name, but I won’t say it and I won’t even give it a sex because that’s not the point. The point is the dark force did exist for whatever reason and it did have a huge part or hold on Elliott’s life.’ […] ‘The force had black hair and dark squinting eyes and the whitest of skin, beautiful in a haunting scary, kind of way. The force seemed arrogant and entitled and that made me uncomfortable.’

– There is also this testimony I once found on a website… I agree, not a very reliable source as I never directly talked to the person contrarily to the other ones, but it just adds up to the picture. This was posted shortly after Elliott’s death: ‘she’s [the poster’s wife] known his girlfriend for sometime, first, she’s a fucking manic nutball, second, she and Elliott have had this emotional, dramatic table turning, door slamming, screaming “I hate you” type of relationship. typical for a manic and a depressed individual right? The wife has witnessed it herself in a bar one night. they were having one of those episodes. he had been making strides as of late, was off the depression pills and really on the upswing. during this episode she was really pressing him, for one reason or another.’

– Lastly, a few years ago I met Abigail Russell who had known Jennifer Chiba since 1999. Among a few revealing things, Abigail told me that Chiba had threatened all her boyfriends with sentences like ‘I am going to kill myself’, and this amazingly echoed some of the previous stories.

We have to keep in mind that all these info come from totally independent sources. So after being aware of all these stories going in the same direction, it is difficult to dismiss this musician, who even went to the police and told them to do more investigation. And this is the worst part of all this, this musician reported Chiba’s party behavior and history of volatile relationships to the police, but did they even pay attention? If I was able to gather all these stories by myself, why didn’t the police find something compelling in Chiba’s past? But did they even investigate?

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25 Responses to “A Musician, Friend Of Elliott Smith, Speaks About Jennifer Chiba’s Behavior”

  1. Andrew Perer

    As G-d as my witness, I hung out with Chiba and Elliot in the years leading up to his death. He tried to quit drugs so many times and never found any psych medications that worked and kept him clean. I absolutely clearly remember doing everything she could to keep drugs and people he did drugs with out of his life. It was a volatile relationship, but so are many. He chose to stay in the relationship of his own volition. I known Chiba for 10 years at that time and she was very dedicated to Elliot. If you want me to give a thorough cynical reason why it wasn’t in her interest to kill him, just remember that she really wanted to get married and start a family and stop working. She had huge student debts he planned to pay off, but she truly loved Elliot. That was just gravy. The dumbest thing she could do was kill him if she wanted to destroy her future. She wanted nothing more, I mean nothing more than to travel with Elliot and help support him and his career and the bonus was that she wouldn’t have to go back to her exhausting therapy job. Is that cynical enough for you, all you haters? Elliot could take care of himself. If he wanted to dump her, he would have in a second, But they were working on there relationship and I know she spent all her time managing his day to day life to make sure he showed up sober to shows when he wanted to get clean. She wouldn’t have thrown away a chance at that life for anything. Period.

    Reply
    • Kelly Boekhout

      They weren’t even together for years how could you possibly have hung out with them for years? Anyways being a friend of hers I understand you wanting to defend her. There’s just too much going against her. Stories aside her behavior at the time of his death is suspect as hell.

      Reply
  2. Alyson

    You admit it yourself, it was a volatile relationship, and she was interested by his money to reimburse her debt and stop working. It never occurred to you that he wanted to leave her and that he told her that day? She even admitted it to someone at Elliott’s funeral, she said Elliott wanted to leave her. And I heard it from different people.
    She thought she was entitled to his money and that’s why she sued the family for $1 million. What a loving way to grieve.

    Reply
  3. Pippy

    Chiba paints herself as the nurturing chief-cook-bottle-washer and homemaker (and manager who booked all of his gigs?), but, in reality – yes – Elliott held the keys to her future; and he wasn’t exactly someone who was comfortable with others doing the steering for him, or acting as gatekeeper. That is not to say that he wasn’t generous or tolerant of the ambitions of others. He was well known for helping others along. Especially anyone involved with music. (Don’t forget – he was also producing her band at the time and that it wasn’t turning out to be a harmonious collaboration either.)

    Andrew – oddly enough, a lot of other friends who weren’t drug buddies (old and new) couldn’t get through to Elliott when Jennifer was “protecting” him. By “getting through”, I don’t mean they couldn’t talk sense into him at the time; I mean they literally could not contact him to speak with him directly. He didn’t get all of his phone messages. By other people’s standards, her protection seemed to cross into control territory.

    And, that DUI Jennifer had before Elliott’s death also exposes a double standard on her part. Especially when she, too, was receiving psychiatric care at the time of E’s death, was she not? Most everyone focuses on E’s issues with drugs while dismissing Jennifer’s own original involvement with his usage.

    When taking into account Jennifer’s description of the relationship and considering E’s nature, it’s really not too difficult to see how a power struggle would have ultimately surfaced. The fact that his manner of death was ruled undetermined; and, that the person who first established the suicide narrative in the police reports and in the media happened to be the only person present at the time of E’s injury (and who also handled the knife) are of import. These facts beg an open mind on the part of anyone with a sense of fairness — not to mention justice.

    Reply
  4. One Whose Been Victim As Well

    She had Borderline Personality Disorder. She is a classic description of this pathology. These people latch onto sensitive, caring individuals, and use them for various purposes. I say this because, her behavioral patterns are like a textbook example of the disorder. A huge percentage of women in prison have this disorder. Not knowing whether it is murder or suicide is not a function of the fact that this pathology is plainly evident in her behavior. Therefore, it is more likely, of the two possibilities here, that there was a murder then there was a suicide. The police’s ignorance of this, and the gynocentric biases of the courts, are some of the reason why there was no “investigation”, as well as the bias against drug abusers, etc. This is, at least, a cold case that needs follow up by a more experienced and dedicated investigator.

    Reply
    • Alyson

      Thanks for this comment! It is however very difficult to find a dedicated investigator eager to follow this case.

      Reply
    • Someone

      Borderlines are extremely sensitive and, yes, they can get violent. But generally they will self harm. They tend to be empathic. Sometimes they have TOO much compassion/feelings. Also they crave for love but at the same time they’re afraid to be in a relationship. Not her case. This woman seems more like a narcissist to me.

      Reply
      • cancan

        People with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) aren’t sensitive, they are overly sensitive. They fly into rages over nothing, but can then immediately act sweet and kind, often as though they had not just flown into a rage. They tend to get violent with others. They are not “empathic,” but they are overly dramatic. They don’t have “too much compassion/feelings”; they are emotionally out of control. It’s not that they crave love, but that they fear abandonment. They also tend to crave attention, and tend to think far too highly of themselves – when they aren’t whining about how people mistreat them.

        BPD and Narcissistic Personality Disorder overlap a lot, and are often comorbid.

        Reply
      • Lala Orange

        There are two kinds of borderlines- one “acts in” with self harm and the other “acts out” and abuses others… I’ve been up way to close to the latter. This story immediately screamed BPD and murder seems v. possible.

        Reply
  5. Megan

    For someone who apparently knew both Elliott and Chiba, the first commenter sure can’t seem to spell his name right.

    As a preface to what I am going to say (only to add credibility to my observation), I have a post graduate in crime scene investigations & forensics. A large part of my program was focused on detecting deception, statement analysis and criminal profiling.

    When reading the first comment under this article….it screams “fake”. Not fake as in this person didn’t know Elliott and that woman but fake as in it’s Jennifer herself posting.

    The excessive excuse making for Chiba, seemingly speaking as if this person was inside her head and knew “exactly” how she felt
    The main red flag however… the misspelling of Elliott’s name…much like the apparent suicide note.
    If the coroner made a mistake when doing the report, they would have corrected it by placing a single stroke through the error, correcting it and initialing it…the unconscious misspelling of Elliott’s name (only one t) is a mental distancing, guilty parties do that as a way to rationalize “I didn’t kill Elliott smith, not talking about Elliott Smith …”

    Just my observation, I absolutely adore Elliott and his hauntingly beautiful music so I had to jump in.
    If I could get my hands on his case file I’d make sure that the truth came out, even if it conclusively pointed to suicide.

    Reply
    • vee

      funny, i have no background in forensics, but my first thought reading that first comment was “this sounds like a phoney comment written by the perpetrator.”

      Reply
  6. GH

    To reiterate, the missing “t” was a clerical error/ error in transcription on the part of the investigators. The authorities are in possession of the post-it and no one else has seen it. (That is, beyond the only witness who – according to the investigators’ narrative – first discovered it on the kitchen table just as she sat down to speak with them on 10/20/03.)

    Elliott’s name did not lack a second “t” on the actual post-it note.

    Reply
  7. NotTheNameThatUcallMeWith

    Sorry but I would expect his self appointed “manager” and gatekeeper to spell his name correctly if she were going to forge his suicide note so this whole controversy over the mispelled named actually does nothing but muddy the waters when pointing to chiba. However the explaination provided by the investigator above about a perpetrator’s guilty subconscious sounds plausable.
    But if you ask me thr most compelling info about that night is noted by chiba and the coroner and its clear as day right there like a timeline for anyonw to put together i dont gdt why she’s nit in jail for at least deparaved indifference or neglegent homicide if what she said was true (which i dont think is true). I think she murdered him and I’ll get to that but first what she admitted to is 1. She said he was fighting with her and threatening to kill himself so she locked herself in the bathroom and she heard a loud scream coming from the kitchen so she GOT A SHOWER to calm down .knowing that he had tried to commut suicide in the past, she ignore him further as he pounded on the door. Then finally she came out saw the knife in his chest and instead of callibg 911 first she pulls it out which causes him to start bleeding out. Then she calls 911. Naaa she should have gotten in trouble for ignoring his threats of suicide and ignoring the screams of self injury and then touching the knife without consulfing authorities. Thats IF anyof that happened.
    Now heres what forensics showed: No hesitation wounds! Most people who stab themselves take their shirts off and you see marks where they try to get the courage up to plunge the knife. But none were present. And the knife was pushed in hard enough to penetrate the breast plate not once but twice which is even more baffling to professionals who have studied suicides. Especially since there was NO ILLICIT DRUGS OR ALCOHOL IN HIS SYSTEM at autopsy. There were prescibed antianxiety and antipsychotics in small therapeutic doses which would have balanced his moods and prevented suicidal ideations.
    Then theres the shower that chiba took and the handling of the knife . I think the two events happened the other way around i think she handled the knife then thats why she had to take a shower. I think she had blood on her hands and other areas possibly clothes but they never searched and thats why she took the knife out because if he survived he might tell or because ahe meant to kill him all along and to explain why her finger prints and the grip prints on the knife. And you had an extremely gullible police dept? Or a paid one? Who knows its still an open case just so everyone knows. Its not ruled as a suicide and because its undetermined they had to investigate it as a murder. They just did’nt try very hard. Fucked up right?

    Reply
  8. Bella Bambina

    Police should be held accountable for doing a terrible job in their investigation. Family should pursue legal action against the police department as well as Jennifer. This is definitely a case of homicide.

    Reply
  9. Bob Adams

    Couldn’t agree more, it’s do blatantly obvious that I can’t even fathom why the police did not actively and aggressively pursue her as the PRIME suspect!! WHAT A JOKE! I was in a relationship just like that in the past and she even went so far as to have me held at gunpoint in my own house for money. She tried to stab me and even stabbed knife through the bedroom door right next to my head while holding door shut with my back up against it. I’m only saying this because I’m not understanding how she wasn’t a suspect!!??? Everything points directly to her ( JC) Makes no sense and I know how volatile people like her can be. I could have ended up just like Elliott. The fact that Chiba is allowed to walk free and breath air sickens me!

    Reply
  10. Jase

    She sounds like she was his handler!! Rock ‘n’ roll is littered with examples of female handlers that work for the music industry to control the talent. Courtney love comes to mind Yoko Ono, Nancy Spungen for Sid Vicious, many examples and the underlying theme is that once they lose control of their partner then it’s time to take the next step which is always attributed to suicide.
    The fact that the police supposedly botched up the investigation is nonsense as all of these departments are connected to the music industry and they will do exactly what they have to do to keep the lid on the truth!

    Reply
  11. Jane

    If Jennifer was off the rails following Elliott’s death maybe it’s because she had lost the love of her life while crazy b*tches on the internet blamed her for it. And if you want to vilify people for threatening suicide, you can put Elliott at the top of your list because he’d been doing it for years. So maybe she was an addict. So was Elliott. Maybe she had depression and some problematic behaviour. So did Elliott. Maybe they had a tumultuous relationship. It takes two to tango. If there was any chance she was guilty she would have been arrested. That never happened. Her own psychiatrist came forward and said there’s no way it’s in her – you think they’d stake their reputation when further evidence could be uncovered at any time? You may not like her but that doesn’t mean she’s a murderer.

    Reply
    • Alyson

      Jane,

      ‘And if you want to vilify people for threatening suicide, you can put Elliott at the top of your list because he’d been doing it for years. So maybe she was an addict. So was Elliott. Maybe she had depression and some problematic behaviour. So did Elliott. Maybe they had a tumultuous relationship. It takes two to tango.’

      It takes two to tango but one is dead and she is alive… I am not questioning the idea that Elliott could have killed himself, I am wondering whether he could have stabbed himself twice in the chest with no hesitation wounds, through his clothes, while damaging his sternum and cartilage. I talked to forensic experts and did plenty of research, all these details are very rare in case of suicide by stabbing which is already the rarest form of suicide…. the accumulation of all these details makes Elliott’s death extremely suspicious. This is not my opinion but that of experts.

      ‘If there was any chance she was guilty she would have been arrested. That never happened.’

      You have a very simplistic vision of the juridical system… it’s not that easy and you can’t arrest someone just based on suspicions. They haven’t gathered enough evidence to win in the court of law and Chiba has refused to talk to the police since. She took a lawyer and he told her to shut up. She only talked to people who were favorable to her cause and also refused an interview with Christine Pelisek, an LA Weekly journalist. I met Chiba and asked her for an interview and of course, this never happened because she knows I would ask her some questions she had always refused to answer.

      Last but not least, the police have let the case OPEN for 16 years. Don’t you think the LAPD would gladly close a case if they could? I have a long correspondence with homicide detective J. King, still in charge of the case. This is what he told me in his last email (I asked him if he considered me a conspiracy theorist, and why the case was open and not cold):

      ‘First, I do NOT consider you a conspiracy theorist. By compiling peoples’ recollections in an effort to clarify an event, you’re merely doing what police do every day. Additionally, you seem to have a very good grasp on what is interpretation, opinion or speculation, and what is provable fact. Please know that I’m always grateful for the information you provide, so do not be deterred.
      Second, this case is not technically a “cold case” because that term (as we use it at RHD) refers to an unsolved murder in which all leads have been exhausted. Elliott’s case is an “undetermined” death investigation that will remain open until south time as a definitive conclusion (i.e. homicide, suicide, accident etc) is reached by the police.
      Lastly, I, like you, have not forgotten this event, and as is the case with all unsolved investigations that I have undertaken, I retain hope that someday someone will provide first-hand information that will enable us to reach an unequivocal conclusion.
      As always, should you have any questions, concerns or information you wish to share, I’ll be more than happy to answer what I can. You know how to get in touch with me. Thanks for your diligence.
      Jay King
      DETECTIVE III J. KING
      Los Angeles Police Department
      Robbery-Homicide Division (RHD) Homicide Special Section
      100 W First Street (Fifth Floor)
      Los Angeles, CA 90012’

      This speaks but itself…

      ‘Her own psychiatrist came forward and said there’s no way it’s in her – you think they’d stake their reputation when further evidence could be uncovered at any time? You may not like her but that doesn’t mean she’s a murderer.’

      This is not about not liking her, this is about questioning her story based on FACTS. As for the psychiatrist’s declaration, it’s just her impression, but doctors can also make mistake and misjudge people’s characters. I have talked to some of Chiba’s ex acquaintances and SEVERAL of them told me Chiba had already threatened one of her exes with a knife… what about that? Do you think they would take the risk to make this up? It’s very damaging.

      And to finish:

      ‘If Jennifer was off the rails following Elliott’s death maybe it’s because she had lost the love of her life while crazy b*tches on the internet blamed her for it.’

      Would you raid your ex’s studio and stealing stuff when the body is not even cold? She was seen doing so in the middle of the next night of the tragedy… I would imagine her to be a bit more distraught… Then would you sue a grieving family barely a year later and amend your case several times if you had just lost the love of your life? She was not going off rails, all her actions were very calculated. Who is the bitch now?

      Reply
  12. Dave

    I just want to say that all of this hurts me to read. I don’t want to get caught up in it all, but Elliott was my friend, and I was just a skip away, in the studio, when we got the phone call, maybe an hour after he died. It was one of the worst days of my life, as it was for a huge number of friends and family. It’s hard to overstate the emotional vacuum that was pulling all parties toward a heartbreaking hysteria. I think it’s noble to want justice for someone who’s music you love. But for me, the bottom line is this: Elliott is dead. Nothing will ever change that. Let me say that I am no defender of Jenn. If they find evidence that she did it, they should lock her up. But this ongoing internet sensationalism of his death is the same sensationalism that SPIN and Rolling Stone and countless others were engaging in that last week in October when he died. And so his legacy continues to be dragged through the mud of the mystery of his death, his drug use, his mental illness, his life cut short too soon. There are so many erroneous waxings on mental illness being tossed around and experts on criminal behavior. Let me just say the whole situation of Elliott’s death is so complicated that a bunch of Internet hearsay isn’t going to solve it (that includes my post.) I just want to express that it’s extremely difficult to work through a friend’s suicide as it is. But to have it dragged back out of the cave and shoved in your face again, as a possible murder — it’s too much. And the most fucked up part to say is — I don’t think I can go through this search for justice — again. Do you know how conflicted and shitty it feels to say that? It feels rotten. It just grosses me out that 8 things out of 10 when you search for Elliott are about whether Jenn killed him. Nothing about his genius. Nothing about his generosity. Nothing about his HAPPINESS.

    Forgive me for bitching and seeming indifferent to the possibilities surrounding Elliott’s death. I care. I care tremendously. And, obviously, anything could have happened. I’m not here to defend or support Jenn. I guess I’ll hear one day if some definitive conclusion is reached. I obviously have a connection with anyone on here who loves Elliott, as I love Elliott, all the same.. It’s just that it’s easier for people who didn’t know him to bat about scenarios of how he died. I just can’t do that. I can’t visualize those scenarios with him. And, referring to some previous posts, I am emphatically not Jenn Chiba. I was a friend of Elliott’s, and I miss him. I wish all of this were over, however the balance swings. I’ll shut up now. You guys are examining stuff I can’t even think about. I guess I’m just writing to say that Elliott was more than a 34 year old with a knife in his chest. Much, much more. Thanks for letting me ramble. And sorry I didn’t add anything to your efforts. I rarely do.

    This is all I have to offer on the subject. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Alyson

      Dave, sure it’s more painful for people who knew him, but not knowing how he died, not knowing whether it was murder or suicide, has to be the worst! I have communicated with a family member, and even though this person doesn’t want his/her name to be said here for several reasons, he/she approves what I am doing, so this gives me validation.
      This is much more than Internet hearsay, I had conversations with key people and I would say I am challenging the common belief Elliott killed himself largely spread in the media by people like W.T.Schulz who wrote the book ‘Torment Saint’. Very often the truth is uncomfortable but I can’t imagine pushing the search for truth on the side just because it’s too painful to think about it. I too have met Elliott several times, and believe me he was much more than this cartoon character he has often been reduced to.
      I have also the validation of the homicide detective J King, still in charge of the case. You can read his last email here: https://justiceforelliottsmithcom.wordpress.com/2019/01/09/an-email-from-detective-king/ … and this may tell you that this is more than some internet sensationalism of his death. Plus, he takes me seriously.

      Lastly, you wrote ‘Jenn Chiba’ and I am curious, have you met her?

      Reply

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