Photographs taken at the scene of Kurt Cobain’s suicide will forever remain sealed following a new court ruling in Seattle.
Journalist Richard Lee, described in court documents as “a conspiracy theorist who believes that Mr. Cobain was murdered,” originally filed suit against the city of Seattle and its police department in 2014. Having researched the Nirvana frontman’s death for years and even hosting a public access TV show called Now See It Person to Person: Kurt Cobain Was Murdered, Lee sought access to pictures taken of Cobain’s body under Washington State’s Public Records Act. However, Superior Court Judge Theresa Doyle threw out the case in 2015 after determining Lee had improperly served the lawsuit to the city and failed to give officials adequate time to address his public records request. Doyle added that releasing the images would be “highly offensive to a reasonable person.”
Lee appealed the ruling last year, and Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love, and daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, filed documents and testified to block Lee’s case. Now, as The Blast reports, the Washington appellate court has handed down a judgement in favor of Cobain’s family. The ruling ensures that images from four rolls of film taken at the scene in 1994 and developed by the Seattle Police Department in 2014 will likely never be seen by the public.
In a declaration submitted in response to Lee’s original suit, Francis Bean said,
“Releasing these photographs would physically endanger me and my mother. 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 that Mr. Lee seeks were public, and that I or any of my loved ones, included my father’s mother and sisters, might inadvertently see them. Release and publication of the photographs would shock me and exacerbate the posttraumatic stress that I have suffered since childhood.”
A handful of images from the four rolls of film in question were indeed released in the months prior to Lee’s initial suit, though none were of Cobain’s body. Conspiracy theorists have for years speculated the rock star’s death was murder and not suicide, despite officials ruling it so on numerous occasions. A documentary exploring the conspiracy theories entitled Soaked in Bleach was released in 2014 around the 20th anniversary of Cobain’s death.