Heartbreaking Photos From The Scene Of Kurt Cobain’s Suicide

Published November 26, 2019
Updated December 16, 2021

On April 5, 1994, the world lost Kurt Cobain forever. These are the crime scene photos taken after the grunge star's body was found, though many images of his death have never been released to the public.

Driveway House And Greenhouse Of Kurt Cobain
Kurt Cobain's Arm With Rehab Wristband
Kurt Cobain's Cigar Box
Kurt Cobain's Cigarettes And Towel
Heartbreaking Photos From The Scene Of Kurt Cobain’s Suicide
View Gallery

Kurt Cobain's meteoric celebrity certainly did "burn out." In the early 1990s, Cobain was everywhere — from T-shirts to magazine covers to the top of the Billboard charts. The Nirvana frontman was on fire.

But the flame was extinguished when his body was discovered in his Seattle home by an electrician on April 8, 1994. Dead from an apparent suicide by a gunshot to the head, the grunge icon was gone at age 27. Nirvana was over.

Kurt Cobain Performing At MTV Unplugged

Frank Micelotta/Getty ImagesKurt Cobain at the taping of MTV Unplugged, in New York. Nov. 18, 1993.

More than 25 years later, the world still hasn't moved on — especially since Kurt Cobain's suicide photos were released.

The Tragedy Of Kurt Cobain's Suicide

According to Rolling Stone, Cobain had only spent a couple of days in a California rehab center before he scaled the facility's six-foot brick wall and made his way home to Seattle.

By the time his wife Courtney Love could cancel his credit cards, Cobain was already back in Washington. Some reported seeing him walking around, hanging out in a park, and spending the night at his old home in Carnation. His mother, Wendy O'Connor, issued a missing person's report.

Police Outside Kurt Cobain's Greenhouse

THERESE FRARE/AFP/GettyImagesA police officer stands guard outside of the greenhouse where Cobain's body was found.

Investigators, friends, and relatives all combed the town and even searched his Seattle home three times. But nobody thought to look in his greenhouse.

On April 8, 1994, an electrician did.

Kurt Cobain was dead on the floor with a shotgun across his chest, fresh injections in both of his arms, and a cigar box full of drugs beside him. According to a medical examiner's report, he had been lying there for two and a half days — and he was identifiable only by his fingerprints.

A high concentration of heroin was found in Cobain's bloodstream, along with traces of Valium. A controversial suicide note was left behind.

In 2014, nearly 20 years after Kurt Cobain's death, the Seattle Police Department released never-before-seen photos of the grisly crime scene.

Publicized Photos Of Kurt Cobain's Suicide And The Subsequent Crime Scene

A local news report on the discovery of Kurt Cobain's body on April 8, 1994.

According to CBS News, Kurt Cobain's suicide photos were taken by responding officers from the Seattle Police Department inside the greenhouse, shortly after he was discovered on April 8, 1994.

None of the photos show Cobain's face or his body in full. The Seattle Police Department announced that it developed the photos in 2014 as part of the procedure in re-examining his cause of death, which has been ruled a suicide since 1994.

In 2016, additional photos were released of the shotgun Cobain allegedly used to kill himself. These photographs eerily transport one to the darkest day of a young star's life.

"I was working with [an investigator]," said Cobain's friend Dylan Carlson, most likely referring to private investigator Tom Grant, whom Courtney Love had hired to find Cobain. "And the day we were going to Carnation to look for him, we found out he was dead."

Kurt Cobain's Dead Body

Seattle Police DepartmentHe was still wearing a patient wristband from the rehab facility he had escaped from a few days earlier when he died.

News of Cobain's death was first reported on Seattle's KXRX-FM radio station. A co-worker of the electrician who found his body called into the station and said he had the "scoop of the century," and that "you're going to owe me a lot of concert tickets for this one."

Courtney Love, meanwhile, was seemingly in complete shock. She wore her husband's jeans and socks and carried a lock of his hair with her. Craig Montgomery, who managed her band Hole, was confident she'd be alright.

"She's a strong enough person that she can take it," he said. "It was hard to imagine Kurt growing old and contented. For years, I've had dreams about it ending like this. The thing that weirds me out is how alone and shut out he felt. It was him that shut out a lot of his friends."

The Unreleased Kurt Cobain Crime Scene Photos

According to Yahoo, there are other photos that have yet to be released — including images of Kurt Cobain's full body.

For some journalists like Richard Lee, these images are of public interest and vital to assess whether or not the singer actually committed suicide or was murdered. Lee was described in court documents as "a conspiracy theorist who believes that Mr. Cobain was murdered." However, he's far from the only person who thinks that.

He's researched the apparent suicide for years and even hosted a show called Now See It Person to Person: Kurt Cobain Was Murdered.

Lee sued the city of Seattle and its police department in 2014 to reinvestigate the case, citing Washington State's Public Records Act, but the courts decided the mysterious photos weren't enough to warrant a new investigation.

Kurt Cobain's Possessions In The Greenhouse

Seattle Police DepartmentKurt Cobain had his cigar box stash of heroin, sunglasses, and other personal belongings with him when he died.

A lower court said releasing these photos would violate both Courtney Love and Frances Bean Cobain's privacy. Love was worried about the potential release as early as 1995 when, according to the police, she called and asked if the photos could be destroyed to prevent any mistaken release.

Love claimed:

"I have never seen these graphic and disturbing images, nor do I ever want to. Certainly, public disclosure would reopen all my old wounds and cause me and my family permanent — indeed, endless and needless — pain and suffering, and would be a gross violation of our privacy interests...[the photos would] "wind up on the internet, where they would be permanently circulated. By virtue of the fact that Kurt is my late husband, they will also likely end up in search results about myself. I would unavoidably come across them, and I would never be able to erase those haunting images from my mind. I cannot even imagine the enormity of the trauma and mental scarring this would cause me, not to mention many others."

Frances Bean Cobain filed a similar declaration, citing mental and emotional distress as the primary reason not to release these photos:

"I once saw mock photos depicting my father's body. That experience irreparably scarred me. I cannot imagine how terrible it would be knowing that the photographs Mr. Lee seeks were public and that I or any of my loved ones, including my father's mother and sisters, might inadvertently see them. Release and publication of the photographs would shock me and exacerbate the post-traumatic stress that I have suffered since childhood. I have had to cope with many personal issues because of my father's death. Coping with even the possibility that those photographs could be made public is very difficult. Further sensationalizing it through the release of these pictures would cause us indescribable pain."

Fortunately, Frances Bean Cobain seems to have built a quiet, healthy life for herself in recent years. Her face is eerily reminiscent of her father's.

As for Courtney Love, it seems she can rest easy knowing that the courts are on her side. They see that she's certainly suffered enough.

After seeing these heartwrenching photos of Kurt Cobain's suicide, learn about the tragic story of Evelyn McHale and "the most beautiful suicide." Then, take a look at history's most famous suicides.

Marco Margaritoff
A former staff writer for All That’s Interesting, Marco Margaritoff holds dual Bachelor's degrees from Pace University and a Master's in journalism from New York University. He has published work at People, VICE, Complex, and serves as a staff reporter at HuffPost.