Police: DNA not sent to lab in Cornell death
The sudden death of Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell on May 18, just an hour after his final show in Detroit, spawned questions nearly as quickly.
Here’s a look at some of the questions raised and how they’re answered by the Detroit police investigator on the case and a medical expert.
Q.: If there was no struggle, why was Cornell’s shirt torn, as stated in the reports?
A.: “It was torn by the medical people as they tried to save his life,” said Detroit Police investigator Charles Weaver, who investigated and compiled the report on Cornell’s death.
Q.: Why did the medic say there were “signs of strangulation” as heard on the police scanner?
A.: In medicine, the term strangulation isn’t referring to a homicidal act, said pathologist Cyril Wecht, former medical examiner of Allegheny County, Penn., and chairman of the American Board of Legal Medicine board of trustees.
It denotes a medical condition in which blood flow to part of the body is cut off, he said.
“You can strangle yourself,” he said. “When people hear ‘strangulation,’ they automatically think it’s a homicide, but that’s not necessarily the case.”
Q.: Why would Cornell ask to have his Apple TV fixed, as stated in police reports, if he was about to kill himself less than an hour later?
A.: “We never know what a person is thinking during a suicide,” Weaver said. “Unless there’s a note, sometimes there are no answers.”
Q.: Why swab the bodyguard’s hands for DNA? And was the DNA submitted to the Michigan State Police Laboratory for testing?
A.: Weaver said it’s standard to check witnesses for signs of struggle. “We do that as a precaution,” he said.
The sample was not submitted to a lab for analysis. Once the death was ruled a suicide, there was no reason to submit the DNA for testing to the state police crime lab, which has a backlog of samples awaiting analysis, Weaver said.
Q.: Why did Weaver list the 6-foot-2 Cornell as being 5-foot-10?
A.: “I don’t actually measure the bodies; that’s for the medical examiner to do,” Weaver said. “It’s just an estimate.”
Q.: Why was there so much blood splattered near the body?
A.: “In a hanging, the body continues to function, and the heart continues pumping blood,” Wecht said. “Blood vessels become engorged, and they burst. Some blood comes out from the airway, on up through the windpipe, into the mouth, and blood can come out your nose.
“Have you ever had someone tell a joke and you spit your drink all over? Well, that’s what often happens with hangings, and when it does you’ll get blood splatters.”
Q.: How could Cornell have been getting help with his TV about 11:35 p.m. May 17, as stated in the police report, if he was outside the Fox Theatre with fans at 11:25 p.m., as some have claimed?
A.: Although several fans have said he signed autographs after the Soundgarden show, no evidence has surfaced that places him outside the theater at 11:25 p.m.-11:30 p.m. Officials with Olympia Entertainment, which owns the Fox, declined to comment.