In his last weeks, Kurt Cobain bought a shotgun, fled from a drug-treatment facility, fought with his wife and threatened to kill himself, according to Seattle police reports.
Cobain, 27-year-old leader of the rock band Nirvana that made Seattle famous for music, was found dead of an apparently self-inflicted shotgun wound at his home yesterday.
Gary Smith, the electrician who found the body, said in a television interview that he found a suicide note that ended with "I love you, I love you."
Just a month ago, Cobain was hospitalized in Rome, where he spent four days recovering after lapsing into a coma from a combination of sedatives and alcohol. That was one indication that the 27-year-old rock star was in trouble, but police reports reveal there were several other indications - at the time known only to family members, associates, neighbors or police.
On the evening of March 18, police responded to a call from the home of Cobain and his wife, Courtney Love.
When police arrived, Love told them Cobain had locked himself in a room and was going to kill himself. She said he had a gun in the room.
Cobain told police he had locked himself in the room to stay away from Love. He said he was not suicidal, and he didn't want to hurt himself.
Officers said that as they questioned Love further, she told them she had not actually seen Cobain with a weapon and he had not said he was going to kill himself.
But police found four guns and 25 boxes of ammunition, as well as quantities of an unknown medication.
The weapons included a .38-caliber Taurus revolver, a Beretta .380 semiautomatic handgun, a second Taurus .380 handgun and a Colt AR-15 semiautomatic rifle.
Because the dispute was limited to verbal exchanges, police made no arrests. Cobain then left the residence, the police report said.
"Due to the volatile situation with the threat of suicide and the recovery of unknown medication, the weapons and the bottle of pills were placed into custody," police reported.
It is unclear whether police later returned the guns and pills. Police did not identify the pills.
Seventeen days later, Kurt Cobain's name appeared in another police report.
On Monday, he was reported missing. He was described as armed with a shotgun, but not dangerous.
Police did not disclose the name of the person making the report, but Cobain's mother in Aberdeen said yesterday she had reported him missing several days ago after being unable to contact him.
According to the police report, Cobain had run away from a "facility" in California and had flown back to Seattle.
"He also bought a shotgun and may be suicidal," the report continued.
The missing-persons report indicated Cobain may have gone to a brick apartment building along Denny Way to buy narcotics.
That report noted the last police contact with Cobain was on April 2, last Saturday. But any police report on that incident was not among the files.
Neighbors recalled that police cars had appeared at the couple's Madrona home on several occasions, including twice in one day, since they had purchased the handsome $1.1 million shake-covered 1902 house on Lake Washington Boulevard East in January.
Their next-door neighbors in the old-money Seattle neighborhood along the west shore of Lake Washington lived with some apprehension about what it would be like to live near one of the most famous rock stars in the world.
But those fears were not realized.
"They'd been exemplary," said Bill Baillargeon, who lives in his own shake-covered home on the north side of the Cobain house. "They were neat and quiet."
Cobain's childhood was anything but neat and quiet. His emotional turmoil began early. His parents divorced when he was 10. Although he was sent to live with his father, family members say it wasn't long before he was "bounced around from relative to relative" and ultimately left to live on his own.
"He was a pretty angry young man," said his uncle, James Cobain, 46, of Aberdeen.
His parents' separation caused a rift between them and their son, but he had become close to his mother in recent years.
His wife told the Los Angeles Times earlier this week, "There is this sweet Jimmy Stewart, `Mayberry, RFD' side of him. His favorite TV shows are `Dragnet' and `Mayberry, RFD' and `Leave it to Beaver.' To him they represent his lost boyhood," she said.
And she spoke of the future: "I'm just glad I had a girl, but I want to have a son with him, too. Just so I can help him make up for the relationship he never had (with his father)."
Last night at the Pourhouse Tavern in Aberdeen, where both Cobain and Nirvana bass player Krist Novoselic used to play in bands, Jeanne Emerson said Cobain just fell in with the wrong crowd.
"He belongs to Aberdeen, but when he made it big, he was from Seattle. And that's unfair."
A man walks by, listens to Emerson as she says: "Promise me one thing - make him out to be the nice guy that he was, because he was a nice guy."
"He was a drug addict," the man said.
"That's your opinion," she answers.
"No, it's the truth."
There were two Kurt Cobains it seemed - the artistic loner who grew up in this timber-driven town, and the famous rock star.
Seattle Times reporters Barbara A. Serrano and Marc Ramirez contributed to this report. ----------------------------------------------------------------- Public tribute
Three Seattle radio stations are co-sponsoring a candlelight vigil and tribute to Kurt Cobain tomorrow at the Flag Pavilion at Seattle Center.
It is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.
Details of the event were being worked out last night by KISW-FM (99.9), KNDD-FM (107.7) and KXRX-FM (96.5).
The stations hoped to arrange for Seattle bands to perform, said KXRX promotions director Ken Cardwell.