The death of Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell was ruled as a suicide hanging, but when photos of his death scene were released, the amount of blood visible alarmed some fans. For months, conspiracy theorists claimed Cornell was murdered and the blood at the scene seemingly proved their suspicion. While the Detroit Police Department said they looked into all angles and didn’t find any instances of foul play, conspiracy theorists are not alone.
The blood that was found in the bathroom of Cornell’s hotel room, where he hanged himself with an exercise band, is not typically found in hanging cases.
“It’s very unlikely such large amount of blood found in a case of hanging,” Dinesh Rao, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at UCLA, told International Business Times in an email.
However, Dr. Rao added he would need more information and pictures to comment further.
“…I would like to state at this moment that in partial hangings or [in] incomplete hangings, signs of congestion are common and sometimes we see ruptures of blood vessels as a reason for hemorrhage,” the doctor explained. “This needs to [be] confirmed during [an] autopsy by ruling out trauma as the source.”
Rao received a B.S. in Biochemistry and an M.D. from Case Western Reserve University. He’s been published in medical journals dozens of times.
While conspiracy theorists might not be wrong to be suspicious, the gruesome death scene doesn’t mean Cornell was murdered.
In the case of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who was sentenced to death in 2006, blood was present in his hanging.
“The pictures showed a gaping wound at Saddam Hussein's neck, and what looked liked bruises on his cheeks,” the BBC wrote at the time. The wound was reportedly caused by the dictator's refusal to wear a hood to his execution.
“I think scarring to tissue on the neck can be explained by not wearing a hood, by the scarf being improperly placed — that could explain blood on the neck,” Peter Hodgkinson, an academic expert on methods of capital punishment, told the BBC in 2006.
“As to the bruising on the face, that could be explained by fact that a hood was not worn, so could have been some connection between head and rope following the drop, but the cause of the bruising is speculation,” he added.
Still, the blog The Metal Den insists that in Cornell's case, the blood stains proved a “very ominous fact, the signs of homicidal ligature strangulation are now totally irrefutable.”
To back up their theory, the blog cited a research paper published in the Journal of Indian Academy of Forensic Medicine in 2013 about the postmortem findings in cases of hanging and ligature strangulation.
“Dribbling of saliva was present in 38.37 percent cases of hanging but not present in any cases of ligature strangulation. Bleeding from mouth and nose found in all cases of ligature strangulation but only in 1 case (1.16 percent) of hanging. Facial congestion and cyanosis present in 34.88 percent cases of hanging while in all cases of ligature strangulation.”
Three prescription pill bottles were found in Cornell’s hotel room: prednisone (anti-inflammatory), omeprazole (antacid) and lorazepam (anti-anxiety).
Cornell’s wife, Vicky, blamed his addiction to drugs for his death. “He didn’t want to die,” she told People Magazine June 28. “If he was of sound mind, I know he wouldn’t have done this.”
“My Chris was happy, loving, caring and warm,” Vicky explained. “This was not a depressed man — it wasn’t like I missed that. What I missed were the signs of addiction.”
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