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Is It Even Reasonable To Consider Elliott Smith’s Death A Suicide?

Elliott Smith


On October 21st, 2003, singer-songwriter Elliott Smith died in the Echo Park house he was sharing with his girlfriend Jennifer Chiba. Elliott, an acclaimed singer-songwriter, had released 5 full-length albums but he was mostly known for his contribution to the soundtrack of the Gus Van Sant movie, ‘Good Will Hunting’ and his song ‘’Miss Misery’ for which he was nominated for an Oscar in 1997.

After a 911 call placed by Chiba at 12:18, Elliott was transported to the hospital where he was admitted at 13:10 with two stab wounds to the chest, but despite medical intervention to repair the heart lacerations, he was pronounced dead at 13:36. The immediate cause of death was stated as ‘exsanguination’ (massive blood loss).

The press and media outlets announced that Elliott died of an apparent suicide, based on the narrative of Jennifer Chiba, who stated to the police that Elliott had suffered from depression all of his life, had a history of alcohol abuse and multiple narcotics addiction (including heroin and crack). According to the police report, she also mentioned a previous suicide attempt, as well as a consistent history of verbal suicidal ideations.

Let’s go back to October 21, 2003, a very hot day with temperatures in the 90s and winds so dry there were high risks of wildfires in the following days. Around noon, Elliott Smith allegedly stabbed himself in the chest, twice, following a well-documented fight with his girlfriend Jennifer Chiba (she admitted this part to the police and neighbors confirmed it).

Based on the results of the autopsy report, the manner of death ‘could not be determined,’ leaving the real cause of death quite mysterious.

But can people actually stab themselves in the chest,.. twice?

There is quite abundant forensic literature on the subject of stabbing, but, just to be clear, most stabbing deaths are homicides: according to a study which considered 700 cutting and stabbing fatalities (and keep in mind that this also includes death by cutting not stabbing) 80% were due to homicide, and only 18% to suicide, while the rest, 2 %, was due to accident.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, a knife is the second weapon used after a firearm for murder cases: 16.5% of all murders are caused by knives versus 64% by firearm. But when people murder their boyfriend or girlfriend, the statistics are even more revealing as 32.8% of offenders used a knife to murder their partner, while 47.2% used a firearm. These are just statistics but a knife is definitively a common weapon used during domestic violence. In a recent article in the SF Weekly, emergency domestic violence calls involving a gun went up 53% and calls involving a knife increased 87% last year. Let’s keep in mind that knives are commonly used in case of domestic violence and Elliott and his girlfriend had been fighting that day, she admitted it to the police and neighbors heard them scream for hours.

If we examine the possibility of suicide by stabbing, there are a few points to consider:

– Suicides by stabbing do exist but they are very rare:  According to many studies, suicide by sharp force injuries account for less than 2% of all suicides, so the choice of a knife or any other sharp instrument to commit suicide is unusual. Furthermore, many studies say that the most common sites for self-inflicted incised wounds are the neck and the abdomen, not the chest. So there are actually far less than 2% of people who commit suicide by stabbing themselves in the chest. Plus, the thorax is the most targeted region for homicide victims whereas suicides by cutting mostly target the upper limbs, the neck, or the wrists.

– The time of the day: This happened in the middle of the day, whereas studies reveal that most of the self-inflicted stabbings (69%) occurred at night or in the early hours of the morning, and very few self-stabbings are actually witnessed by someone else. It is obviously a very dramatic scene to witness which could have traumatized Elliott’s girlfriend for life or made her look guilty. Did Elliott want to do that to her?

– Sternum and ribs injuries: According to a large study including 118 sharp force fatalities, there is a much higher likelihood of a homicide if bone or cartilage wounds are found (they were found in 74.3% of the cases) and a higher likelihood of suicide if these wounds are absent (they were only found in 14.6% of the cases). Suicide victims tend to avoid solid anatomical structures, such as ribs and sternum whereas the frequency of bone or cartilage wounds in homicides is high because assailants ignore the presence of bones. In Elliott’s case, stab wound #1 injured intercostal space, and stab wound #2 ‘perforated the left edge of the sternum’. Elliott’s perforated sternum speaks volumes.

– The depth of the wounds: Wounds caused by assailants to their victims are generally more severe than those self-inflicted. On the autopsy report, the estimated depth of penetration of Elliott’s wound #2 is between 5 and 7 inches (12.7 -17.8 cm), and this depth is quite severe.

– The clothes: Elliott was stabbed with his clothes on, and this is once again very significant, as studies show that clothing damage is relatively rare in case of suicide (between 4% to 39% depending on the studies) whereas the stabbing is made through clothing in most homicides. In the case of suicides, the person generally exposes the chosen area before the stabbing and there is no clothing damage.

– The lack of hesitation wounds: When people stab themselves, hesitation wounds (superficial incised wounds) are often made before the fatal deep wound. They indicate indecision before the final act. Elliott didn’t have any hesitation wounds around the large stab wounds in his chest and his neck and wrists were intact. According to many studies, hesitation marks are a strong indicator of suicide, they are present in most cases of suicides (>70%) and are even believed to be the most useful indication in distinguishing suicide from homicide.

– The possible defense wounds: Elliott had small cuts on his left palm and right upper arm, which could be interpreted as possible defense wounds. They were very small, but according to the doctor who did the autopsy, they could have also been done when mishandling the knife. However, she said that they were certainly not due to intentional self-harm. Since Elliott was right-handed, the cut on his right arm is weird. Obviously, defense wounds are a strong indication of homicide and were detected in 61% of the cases in a large study. They are most frequently found on hands, arms, and forearms.


To sum this up with the strongest points:

Suicide by stabbing only represents 2% of all suicides

Bone injuries are only found in 14.6% of the cases

Clothing damage is only found in 39% of the cases at the most

The absence of hesitation marks represents less than 30% of the cases


if we consider that all these statistics are independent (they independently occur in many studies) we have to recognize that they nevertheless characterize Elliott’s case altogether. For what it’s worth, we can do this simple calculation:

0.02 x 0.146 x 0.39 x 0.30 = 0.0003, so 0.03 %… Elliott’s case would represent this astronomically low statistic  (0.03%)… is it even possible?


  1. Jeff Weedman on March 14, 2019 at 4:05 pm

    Who was surprised when Elliott died?
    He was in quite the downward spiral in the months before his death. I went to a few of his shows during this time – he looked horrible with sweaty hair plastered against his face, and had trouble getting through his sets.
    Chiba was with him during this time, so perhaps it’s not a stretch to think that theirs was a mutually self- destructive relationship. Chances are they had other violent interactions. Maybe this is the first one where knives came to play…
    I’m inclined to believe Chiba stabbed him – but I’m not sure I’d call it murder.

    • Alyson on March 14, 2019 at 8:03 pm

      Two things: Elliott had cleaned up before he died, I don’t know when you saw him but I saw him for the last time in August 2003 and he looked great. He went to rehab in late 2002 and was seeing the end of the tunnel. According to a few rumors I heard, this was not the first time knives came to play.
      Then I don’t know what you are talking about, but if she stabbed him, if she was the one holding the knife, it’s a murder.

    • Gern on October 18, 2022 at 2:38 pm

      If she stabbed him, WTF would you call it??? Are you a retard???

  2. KK on March 14, 2019 at 10:47 pm

    Exsanguination? He bled out. Seems to indicate she waited (and also made things worse by removing the knife). I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before: The force it would take to deliver a 5-7 inch stab wound? How could he have been standing? I wonder if the police are concerned about this particular bit. Also, with regard to contact with the bone, think about the force she needed to remove the knife- chilling. Was her memory in reverse?!

  3. cookaroo on October 9, 2019 at 6:38 pm

    He would have probably placed the knife against his chest and use the wall or counter to force the knife in. This would also account for the bone damage as there would be control issues with this implementation. Just saying, without knowing exact circumstances…..speculation is just that.

    • Alyson on October 10, 2019 at 1:36 pm

      But this would have left marks/traces. When I talked to her, Dr. Scheinin (who did the autopsy) mentioned a case like this, a man who had used a door/wall to stab himself. I asked her if she thought that could be the case here and she said no. The police also came and collected evidence but there was no such physical evidence in the room, and they have never said such a thing could have happened.

  4. dpk on November 28, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    Listening to his music (which I love) makes the idea of a suicide not at all out of the question. Also, the statistics pointed out here are flawed. While it seems logical to multiply all those factors together the only one that really matters is the 2% one.

    As far as the depth of the stab wound that is incredible, even for a murder. Still, not at all out of the question that it was a suicide. Again, as evidenced by much of his music he seemed to have very serious issues with depression. I would bring up his prior drug history but from what I remember he had only therapeutic levels of prescription psych meds in his system so he didn’t do it because/while he was high, but the problems associated with heavy drug use do not magically disappear because someone gets sober. Indeed, all the reasons someone starting getting high are usually still there and many made worse. There’s still a lot of work to do once sober.

    Also, it’s very common for depressed individuals to appear happier preceding a suicide. I’ve heard it reasoned it because they have made a decision to commit the act which gives a certain sense of relief in knowing that it will all be over soon.

    I can state from my own experience that the chemical abuse and depression (particularly when combined) it can be hard to find the will to live. Especially when there’s a part of your brain telling you that everyone would be better off if you were gone because you have become a problem. Which is why people calling suicide a “selfish” act drives me up a fucking wall. Obviously those individuals have no clue what the hell they are talking about.

    Anyways, I can see it either way. A “passion killing” in the heat of an argument or a suicide by a talented musician with a history of mental illness dating back to childhood. To me, the point isn’t at all how he died, (other than the fact that a potential murderer is walking free). The important part is his legacy and the beautiful music he has left us with. To be honest I may very well owe my own life to him and his music, it definitely got me through some horrible times, I was comforted by simply feeling like someone else understood my pain.

    RIP Elliott

    • Alyson on November 29, 2019 at 12:52 pm

      ‘the statistics pointed out here are flawed’ no, you can multiply them, it’s basic statistics, I know a bit about maths: if you know the probability of an event A and the probability of an event B, the probability that events A and B happen together is prob (A) x prob (B),… again basic statistics!
      if there are flaws in this calculation, they are in the approximation of the numbers I have used, they vary from one study to the next, but the variations are not too great, so this calculation points out the rarity of all these events occuring at the same time (suicide by stabbing + no hesitation marks + stabbing through the clothes + bone injuries…)

      According to what I have read, and I have read many forensic studies about stabbing, the depth of the wound is not incredible for murder, or even for suicide, it is just incredible if the 6-inch deep wound was the second wound and if it was suicide.

      Again I have addressed many times his depression and his lyrics, this is irrelevant in this study as this form of suicide (with all the details already mentioned) is extremely rare. I also don’t buy the autobiographical lyrics, most people who write sad songs don’t kill themselves… art is not a path to kill yourselves, it’s a way to survive.

      Plus it’s safe to say that, if Elliott had committed suicide, he would not have picked this very painful way to go, in front of his girlfriend, at the risk to traumatize her for life and make her look like a suspect? in this case, it would not be a ‘selfish’ suicide but a very heinous act.

      • cpt on December 15, 2020 at 12:10 am

        I can believe I’m posting on sun a mundane topic after watching Heaven Adores You. On the stats – multiplying probabilities assumes the events are independent. It’s not a big deal how likely or unlikely suicide was or isn’t. He is dead and there’s not enough evidence for changes to be filed. And either way the way we’ve lost his voice and music.

        • Alyson on December 15, 2020 at 12:25 am

          Yes, of course, multiplying probabilities assumes the events are independent, and all these features are independently reviewed in many forensic articles. Not all people who do not remove their clothes lack hesitation marks for example,… and you cannot assume to find one feature if you find another one, so they are independent. I have talked to several forensic experts.
          You are missing my point, the presence of all these features at the SAME TIME for a case of suicide by stabbing is HIGHLY unusual.
          As for your last argument, ‘He is dead and there’s not enough evidence for changes to be filed’ …what changes are you talking about? The case is open, the autopsy not conclusive, so the case was not filed as suicide.

        • Alyson on December 15, 2020 at 10:26 am

          And I can’t believe you are calling this topic ‘mundane.’ Knowing what happened to him matters to a lot of people, have you thought about his family?

    • Yo momma on April 24, 2021 at 4:57 am

      What a stupid fucking thing to say. Suicide is selfish in every sense.

      • Csonga on May 4, 2021 at 10:50 pm

        suicide isn’t selfish. not at all, a person is in so much pain that they see everyday like this one… this moment.. that will never end. And rather than suffer through it they chose the alternative.

        • zigzag on May 9, 2021 at 5:56 am

          How is that not selfish?? Inflicting that pain on other people instead of holding it yourself. That’s the example of selfish. You die and get to leave all of your problems. Everyone else left here has to continue holding that pain. Eff off with its not selfish. It’s literally the most self serving thing anyone could do that additionally hurts absolutely everyone around them.

          • Ghost on April 23, 2022 at 3:21 pm

            It’s far more selfish to bring a life into this world without ever asking if the life wanted to exist in this sh#t world. Elliott, you, me..we were never asked if we wanted to play the game of life and all the struggles and pain and loss that comes along with being human. No, it was our selfish apathetic parents who wanted to play god with a life and bring it into this world. Selfish is also YOU saying “what about the people he hurts by leaving” – what about HIM being hurt by staying and living just for your own peace of mind? If you see something in endless misery are you going to let it flop around in agony just because you don’t want it to go away? You’re the selfish one. How would you like it if you were forced to go to a party that you never wanted to go to, and you get to this party that you never wanted to go to and you find out its even worse there than you thought it would be. But you can’t leave, because you’ll upset the host, even though you never wanted to be there in the first place. People like you are the kind of people that make this world not worth living in.

        • EMurph on August 24, 2021 at 10:54 am

          There is usually a history of emotional abuse of threats to ones own life before a suicide that by themselves are evidence of how selfish it is. I’ve noticed it’s mostly ppl who’ve never had someone close to them kill themself that think it’s not selfish. They don’t know the extremely painful guilt that every person whom survives them feels. Or the anger & frustration that comes with mourning someone who is only to blame for them being gone. When Hunter Thompson died Rolling Stone published a cover to cover book basically of famous people writing about Hunter. Most said “he went out Gonzo” except Jack Nicholson. He was perfect, “I’m mad that you are the reason I will never see you knocking on my window at 3 am. How dare you take you away from me!” I’m paraphrasing but his article was the most honest.
          Suicide is the most selfish thing a person will ever do. Someone has to find them, clean up the mess. It’s hard enough when someone is killed by a drunk driver or cancer, but when you’re just as hurt by the person whom is also gone it multiplies the agony.
          Nobody said life was easy, why do they get to cut class early?

      • Larren on August 23, 2021 at 9:28 am

        I have depression, I’m 4 years into recovery from heroin addiction and it’s hard to ever be completely well after such disruption to your mind. Even if Elliot was clean he still could have killed him self. I was reading about the lack of hesitation wounds and had a overwhelming emotional thought about his music being his hesitation wounds. Regardless of his death he has served as a comforting voice to people like us. I only wish and wonder who/if he was Comforted by?

        • Em on October 24, 2021 at 8:38 pm

          Exactly what I was thinking. Who comforted him? Who saw his pain and helped him? How SELFISH were those who saw his pain and did nothing, probably thinking “he needs to save himself.” We all need help, especially with mental illness and the pain it causes.

          I also knew a gal who stabbed herself to death in the heart three times. She was a petit little thing, but she made it happen.

      • Lisa Coston Critz on October 19, 2021 at 3:59 pm

        I have known five people, loved five people, who took their own lives. None of them were selfish people. All of them were people in unbearable pain. No one kills themselves unless they are in pain so great that life becomes unlivable. I choose to remember those I love who died by suicide as simply people I love who are no longer on Earth. I don’t blame them, and I don’t judge them. Your comment makes me wonder if you’ve ever lost someone you love to suicide. If you have, please consider forgiving them. It will lift an enormous burden from your heart and soul. My heart goes out to you.

        • admin on October 20, 2021 at 4:50 am

          It is time to re-think suicide as a deadly illness (according to Malcolm Gladwell it is also transmittable like a virus), it needs to be treated not as a baffling form of super-depression but as an illness that can be resolved through therapy and medicine -IL

  5. dpk on November 28, 2019 at 2:19 pm

    Also, this is a great song by Ben Folds about Elliott Smith.

    • Angela Rorrer on March 21, 2021 at 9:29 pm

      It is not. It is an ode to adolescence written for his son released a year before Smith died.

      • You Wrong on September 9, 2021 at 5:03 pm

        “Elliott, man, you played a fine guitar
        And some dirty basketball
        The songs you wrote
        Got me through a lot
        Just wanna tell you that”

        You…you don’t think that’s directed at ES?

  6. None on January 15, 2020 at 4:49 am

    After reading this I have no doubt in my mid that he was murdered,and his murdered has gotten off scott free. I hope it eats away at them for the rest of their life.

  7. Anon on February 2, 2020 at 7:06 pm

    I think it’s very suspicious. She pulled the knife out (which would conveniently explain her prints on the knife) and happened to be taking a shower while he was busy stabbing himself (twice) – convenient to remove blood or explain the delay in getting help.

    • Alyson on February 3, 2020 at 10:40 am

      We don’t know if she took a shower, I know it has been reported but it’s not in the police report!

  8. Georges Economou on June 6, 2020 at 8:39 pm

    We will never know with 100% certainty unless a confession comes our way, but if i had to guess i ]d say he was murdered.

  9. Colin Robinson on July 26, 2020 at 9:12 am

    I just read the Wikipedia on this the other day. Sure sounds to me like she killed him. It was probably a low priority to the police. Even though he was famous he was probably “just another junkie” to them.

  10. Colin Robinson on July 26, 2020 at 9:53 am

    I just learned about all this for the first time today. It sounds like murder to me. Did anyone compare the handwriting on the post-it note to Elliott’s and Jennifer’s?

    • Alyson on July 26, 2020 at 1:36 pm

      unfortunately, we know nothing about what was done with the post-it note.
      Since the case is open, the police cannot comment on anything. I know that even the family tried!

  11. Jud on October 30, 2020 at 12:17 am

    Elliott’s neighbor at his studio New Monkey was / is an artist. Her testimony here on this site is both convincing and chilling. Especially when she starts describing the “Dark force” in Elliott’s life. Please take those words “Dark Force” with an open mind and not with supernatural connection. Sounds like to me she just didn’t want to rat out or condemn Chiba, since the neighbor didn’t have all the facts on the day of Elliott’s death.
    IMO: Elliott Smith was murdered by a psychotic girlfriend with a history of violent relationships. Rest In Peace, E.S.

    • J on March 20, 2021 at 9:00 pm

      Is or was it proven ES was murdered by his GF? I was a late comer to his beautiful music and was distraught to learn of such a loss to musical artistry posthumously

      • Alyson on March 21, 2021 at 12:05 pm

        No, it is not proven, but the case is still open and the autopsy was not conclusive. That’s why I am trying to find out what happened.

  12. mick on March 22, 2021 at 12:58 am

    He probably wanted to stab his own heart for a long time. You think Chiba’s aim was that good? I’m guessing the first stab was in the heat of the moment and it felt incredible, free and final, so he did it again with more vigor. He spent so much time ruminating on it, once he finally decided there wouldn’t be hesitation wounds. We’d all prefer conspiracies that don’t leave us with unanswerable questions but everyone dies, mostly in pointless and unfair ways, and if you choose to go early, fine. Leave the woman alone.

    • Alyson on March 22, 2021 at 4:20 pm

      That’s complete nonsense. Keep your wild imagination for yourself, this shows you know about nothing about the case. Chiba said she was only 5-10 minutes in the bathroom for your info. She is at the very least responsible for removing the knife and letting him bleed to death.

      • Em on October 24, 2021 at 8:51 pm

        Have you researched how long it takes to bleed out from a stab wound to the heart? Probably not long, is my guess. Also, for many people, especially those without experience or knowledge of the reason for leaving the puncturing object in place to prevent more bleeding, one might remove it as an instinctual action to remove the source or cause of the wound in that initial moment of coming upon the scene when one is shocked and scared and distraught. I think people used to do that all the time before it became medically proven that the object should be left in place. There are so many people who wouldn’t have any awareness of this sort of thing. There are a lot of naive and uneducated people in the world.

        • Alyson on October 25, 2021 at 12:30 am

          But Jennifer Chiba was educated. She has been a therapist since 1995 and has been working with unstable children: she had the training. As for bleeding out from a stab wound, we know that she called 911 at 12:18 pm, was admitted to the hospital at 13:10 pm, and died at 13:36 pm; so it took him a long time to die, more than an hour. And if she didn’t call 911 right away (there is strong evidence to think so) it took him even longer than that.

  13. Thee Optimist on April 7, 2021 at 1:00 am

    This is very interesting. I’ve been listening to Either/Or around and around again over the past few days. I knew that he had died of possibly self-inflicted stab wounds, and I knew he had been a drug addict, and I knew his girlfriend at the time had “witnessed” all this. But that was all I knew. I figured they were a couple of junkies and weird shit happens around junkies. Then I read the Wikipedia page tonight, which certainly makes it seem like a) he was getting better; and b) she killed him. So I typed “Did Jennifer Chiba kill Elliott Smith?” into the Googler, and this article appeared.

    How about this little bit of speculation? He was getting better, and maybe she didn’t like that? Maybe he was thinking of moving on entirely? “Got a new wife, got a new life, and the family’s fine.” Maybe she decided that he wasn’t allowed to move on, and he had to stay inside their circle of insanity forever and ever? Or maybe not. Maybe he plunged a knife deep into his own chest. Heat of the moment kind of thing.

    In old photos of their relationship, she looks fine. He looks like he’s already dead. Or to put it another way, she looks warm and dry, and he looks like he’s been sitting out in a cold rain. For weeks.

    • Alyson on April 9, 2021 at 3:43 pm

      I know the photos you are referring to, it was during one of his last shows (outdoor) on the east coast and it effectively rained quite a lot… which explains Elliott’s appearance. I can assure you he was doing well just before he died, I last saw him in August 2003, and he looked good. I have pictures of that show.
      You are not speculating in vain: after his death, she told someone that Elliott wanted to leave her, and I tend to believe this was the subject of their argument on October 21st, 2003. As I said in the article, it would require an impressive force to plunge the knife in the chest, through the thoracic cage, not once but twice. Plus his damaged sternum does not point to suicide.

      • K on May 3, 2021 at 3:49 am

        Alyson, thank you for giving this reasonable and worthy cause momentum.
        I’ve worked in the medical imaging field for over 15 years and have seen all sorts of
        intentional traumatic injuries. Nothing in the description that has taken Elliott Smith from us makes any sense. The force to cause coastal and sternal damage as described would have to be extreme. To me the physics of this description isn’t possible. Our thoracic skeleton has evolved in such a way as to protect us. Try taking two fingers and taping on your sternum… It’s not a weak or small structure. This sounds like injuries inflicted by someone else. Hopefully the truth will come out.

  14. Nerve on December 13, 2021 at 6:20 pm

    Thank you for persisting on this. It’s so strange that she wasn’t charged. What further evidence do you surmise that they would need? It seems like they should have all the physical evidence they need if it was indeed murder, and the only explanations would be a.) they believed her story in the face of evidence to the contrary or b.) there is some form of corruption involved. Best of luck with uncovering further developments.

    • Alyson on December 14, 2021 at 1:23 pm

      Apparently, there is not enough evidence for the police. She immediately lawyered up and refused to speak to the detectives. Physical evidence comes from the results of the autopsy, but nobody knows exactly what the police collected at the scene. I don’t think they believe her story otherwise they would have closed the case (and it’s still open, 18 years later)… I have no evidence for the rest but it is very convenient for the police to let the case open so they can prevent anybody from looking at whatever they have. Nobody has even heard the 911 call!

  15. krisp on January 4, 2022 at 11:41 pm

    she also went for his money after the fact. 1 million dollars. that should be telling in itself. sounds like another courtney love situation.

  16. Dan on January 9, 2022 at 4:23 pm

    Nah, it’s suicide.

    I mean, I get it with him. I get why there are questions around it. Unlike the drivel around Cobain, Cornell and Bennington (all three were utterly open and shut suicides), his manner of death was unusual. But there was one person in the apartment with him. The mere fact that police do not have evidence that he was murdered and that it’s unexplained makes it pretty clear. If it was even murder on the balance of probability, Chiba would have been arrested by now. It would have gotten to court.

    The suicide being unusual does not equal murder. You occasionally get unusual suicides and as talented as Smith was, he fit the bill for suicide completely.

    I do get it though.

    • Alyson on January 9, 2022 at 11:49 pm

      I disagree. If the police and the coroner had enough evidence for suicide, they would have closed the case. The case is open, not even cold and there is a difference. The detective told me that an open case is a case where not all leads have been exhausted. This is the situation for Elliott’s case. Not having enough evidence to prove in a court of law that it was murder is not proof of innocence. Law is complicated and the investigation was botched at the beginning. When the police arrived, Elliott was still alive and already at the hospital; she said it was a suicide attempt and the scene was not even considered a crime scene. When he died an hour later, the detectives arrived with more questions, she had already lawyered up and refused to talk to them. She certainly didn’t panic (as some people have said to justify the removal of the knife from his chest). The sternum injury and all the forensic details I mentioned in the post are not evidence of suicide.

  17. Carrie on January 28, 2022 at 5:25 pm

    I noticed one thing about Chiba in an article that really struck me. She had noted that Elliott had given up red meat and sugar after he got clean. She said “I wonder if he’s giving up too much at once” She probably knew if he was cleaning up his life, she’d be gone soon. So she killed him for his money. That’s my theory.

    • Alyson on January 30, 2022 at 2:38 pm

      oh he wanted to leave her, too many people told me he did. so yes, it’s probably what their fight was about this day

  18. Laura on April 3, 2022 at 9:57 am

    I once read a comment saying something like: what would a person do after stabbing someone? Take a shower!
    “Oh but she went to the bathroom before everything happened”. This is her version of the facts which it happens to be the only one because the only person who was there too isn’t here anymore to give his version. How convenient to say someone with suicidal tendencies have killed himself, it’s just so unquestionable that everyone just believes it right away and leave it behind. I would say this could (and I said could! no one really knows what happened but the one who was there and it’s still alive) be a case of a perfect crime. Just hope someday the truth will come to the surface and if it’s the case, there will be justice made for him.

    • Theresa on May 22, 2022 at 8:49 am

      Just watched Heaven Adores You. Shame Elliots sister glossed over what the problems were that Elliot faced with her dad. Doesnt seem like he had anyone loyal around him enough to really get him help.
      Regardless- girlfriend pulled out the knife? Anyone who’s watched television knows you dont remove an object from a wound- no medical training required!
      The more I’ve read up the clearer it is in my understanding Elliot was murdered. I hope justice is served for him one day.

  19. S on June 21, 2022 at 3:02 pm

    The use of statistics here is actually quite flawed in several respects. What you should be calculating is the probability of suicide divided by the probability of (suicide or homicide), because as performed this analysis does not take into account possible unusual factors for homicide. As written you’re chaining together several probabilities but many of these probabilities would be common to both methods, the probability of homicide in such a manner is also low. But we are given that either suicide or homicide happened here, so we’re already given that SOMETHING unusual happened. The analysis also leaves out several factors such as demographics and the probability of suicide given at least one prior suicide attempt.

    The explanation about the probabilities being independent is also incorrect but the method used is otherwise fine. It’s the chain rule (P (A and B) = P (B | A) * P (A)


    Anyway, a better calculation:

    The probability of suicide in 2003 in the US was 0.0108%.

    From NIH data

    However given he had at least one prior suicide attempt, he was at a 5.6 times higher risk, so 0.0605%. I didn’t control for gender/age/race at all even though all of these factors increase his risk, because I was worried those risks may not be independent of the higher risk given a prior suicide attempt, and that’s the strongest predictor anyway.

    I also find the rate of suicide by stabbing (given suicide) as (average) about 2.3%.

    So altogether we get a chance (overall, within a given year) of suicide by stabbing just as 0.00139%.. however, let’s look at homicide. For this we can just use the FBI uniform crime statistics for 2003, for a 30 to 34 year old.

    216 such murders (with a knife/cutting instrument) out of 20,522,000 people. A chance of 0.00105%.

    So overall the probability of suicide over the probability of (suicide or homicide) given that he died I find to be P (suicide) / P (suicide or homicide) = 57.0%. In other words very far from conclusive either way.

    An issue for me with the studies I believe you’re citing (in another version of this post) are behind a paywall and I can’t verify what they’re actually saying unfortunately. But e.g. from the abstract of the one you seem to be using for the likelihood of bone injuries by method includes this line

    > Wounds located at the head, limbs, hands, nape of the neck, or back were predictive of a homicide, whereas wounds located solely at the anterior parts of the trunk, neck, or forearms were predictive of a suicide. The presence of bone or cartilage wounds was predictive of a homicide and their absence was predictive of a suicide.

    I can’t see the actual probabilities, but this indicates conflicting information as Elliott’s injuries were to the anterior part of his trunk, which indicates suicide.

    Anyway for a full analysis we would have to consider the degree to which different unusual aspects of the death were likely under suicide AND under homocide and include them in the stats above, but as I can’t read these articles I’m not prepared to do that, only to point out that it is misleading to chain these probabilities only for suicide but not for homicide. Obviously if the people investigating this case really thought the chance he had committed suicide was as low as you calculated, they would have already made an arrest.

    • Alyson on June 21, 2022 at 6:45 pm

      Statistics for a case like this one can be flawed in the sense that all the features may not be completely independent. However, all these features are discussed independently in many forensic papers: bone injury can be considered independent from hesitation marks or removal of the clothes…

      I strongly disagree with several points of your comment:
      “the probability of homicide in such a manner is also low”

      No, knifes are a very common weapon used for homicide: they represent 10.6% of the most common weapons used for homicides according to this:

      So the probability of homicide in such a manner is NOT low.

      “I also find the rate of suicide by stabbing (given suicide) as (average) about 2.3%.”

      This includes any suicide by stabbing, but if you look closely you will find that most people who stab themselves do not do it in the chest: mostly in the neck or abdomen…so suicide by stabbing in the chest is actually <<< 2% "However given he had at least one prior suicide attempt, he was at a 5.6 times higher risk" Well, that's the story sold by Chiba. The cliff episode was not a suicide attempt: Elliott was drunk and upset, it was dark, he ran away and didn't even know there was a cliff. Read about this episode in both bios (Big Nothing and Torment Saint). This was not a suicide attempt. So unless you consider taking drugs like a suicide attempt, Elliott didn't have a prior suicide attempt. I had access to these papers, and I read many of them. You are wrong when you are saying that "this indicates conflicting information as Elliott’s injuries were to the anterior part of his trunk, which indicates suicide" It's not conflicting info at all: He had costal cartilage and sternum injuries which are indicative of homicide, not suicide. I am not saying it's a certitude of course, but statistics point to homicide for this feature. I even had an email exchange with one of the co-authors of one of these articles (differentiating characteristics between suicide and homicide in the case of stab wounds) Plus, you forgot, if there was a crime, it was not any crime, you have to put it in the context of domestic violence, they were in the middle of a violent and long fight. And the statistics for stabbing during domestic violence are high, quite high: Knives represent 16.5% of the weapons used in family murder and 32.8% in the case of a boyfriend/girlfriend (table 3.3 in the link below). So it's a common weapon in case of domestic violence, especially when the woman is the perpetrator (don't have time to look for another link, but it is the case)

      “Obviously if the people investigating this case really thought the chance he had committed suicide was as low as you calculated, they would have already made an arrest.”

      Again, you are wrong, this is not how it works. They need more evidence to arrest someone, and I am not even talking about the things they didn’t do at the beginning of the case, which may have botched the investigation forever

  20. Gern on October 18, 2022 at 2:41 pm

    What if she paid a larger person to stab him while he was taking a nap?

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