Early death

Elliott Smith died on October 21, 2003 at age 34 in his home in Echo Park, Los Angeles, California from two stab wounds to the chest. According to Jennifer Chiba, with whom he was living at the time, the two were arguing, and she locked herself in the bathroom. Chiba heard him scream, and upon opening the door, saw Smith standing there with a steak knife in his chest. She pulled the knife out of him, after which he collapsed and she called 911. Smith died at the hospital, with the time of death listed as 1:36 p.m. While Smith's death was originally reported as a suicide, the official autopsy report released in late December 2003 left the question of possible homicide open. According to the coroner's report, a possible suicide note, written on a Post-it, read, I'm so sorry—love, Elliot. God forgive me. The misspelling of "Elliott" was later acknowledged as a mistake on the part of the coroner.

According to Pitchfork, producer Larry Crane reported on his Tape Op message board that he had planned to help Smith mix his album in mid-November. Crane wrote: "I hadn't talked to Elliott in over a year. His girlfriend, Jennifer, called me [last week] and asked if I'd like to come to L.A. and help mix and finish [Smith's album]. I said yes, of course, and chatted with Elliott for the first time in ages. It seems surreal that he would call me to finish an album and then a week later kill himself. I talked to Jennifer this morning, who was obviously shattered and in tears, and she said, 'I don't understand, he was so healthy.'" The coroner's report revealed that no traces of illegal substances or alcohol were found in his system at the time of his death. The coroner did find anti-depressant and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder medications in his system, but at prescribed levels. With his death not being officially declared a suicide, a journalist noted that some have suspected foul play, but also that the authorities do not seem to be investigating the case further.

Soon after his death, a fan memorial was initiated outside of Solutions Audio (4334 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, California), the site where the cover of the Figure 8 album was shot. Farewell messages to Smith were written on the wall, flowers were brought and photos, candles and empty bottles of alcohol mentioned in Smith's songs were left. The owner of Solutions has, for the time being, allowed the memorial to stand. Dozens of tribute albums were recorded, and memorial concerts were held in many cities in America, England, and Iceland. A petition was soon put forth with intent to make part of the Silver Lake area a memorial park in Smith's honor. It received over 10,000 signatures, but no plans to go forth with the park have been announced. Another memorial is located inside Smith's former high school, Lincoln High, and was erected in July 2006.


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