On 21 July 2017, the junk news website Your News Wire (now News Punch) published a story reporting that Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington, who passed away on 20 July 2017 in his Palos Verdes Estates home near Los Angeles, had been murdered in similar fashion to his friend, Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell, who died two months earlier.
Both Bennington’s and Cornell’s deaths have been ruled suicides by hanging by Los Angeles County and Wayne County medical examiners, respectively. Cornell died on 18 May 2017 in his hotel room after a concert in Detroit, while Bennington passed away at his Palos Verdes Estates home on 20 July 2017. The two men were friends — in fact, Bennington took his life on what would have been Cornell’s 53rd birthday. But rumors that their deaths were connected in any nefarious way are based on speculation and not evidence, and Your News Wire’s headline thus falsely proclaims “Police: Chester Bennington Was Murdered.”
Citing a “police source,” Your News Wire asserted that authorities were investigating Bennington’s death as a homicide:
Detectives are looking into whether Chester Bennington was murdered, with the death scene later arranged to resemble a suicide. They have put a team of investigators in place and are refusing to rule out a criminal homicide charge.
“Murders are sometimes made to look like suicides. We think he was murdered, we just have to find out who was behind it,” said a police source.
It’s unclear what “detectives” Your News Wire could possibly have obtained such a quote from. Palos Verdes Estates police have not commented on the case and have instead referred all inquiries to the coroner’s office. The police department for that small coastal community south of Los Angeles contracts with the much larger Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to handle homicides, and the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau told us they did not respond to Bennington’s death. The quote doesn’t appear in any other news report about the incident.
We have spoken to all the agencies that have jurisdiction over Bennington’s home and can confirm that, contrary to what Your News Wire reported, law enforcement has not said Bennington was murdered.
The celebrity status of both men means relevant details about their deaths are publicly available. Cornell’s autopsy report has been uploaded online, and in that report, Wayne County assistant medical examiner Dr. Theodore Brown notes that Cornell’s bodyguard discovered him in the bathroom of his Detroit hotel room with an exercise band around his neck. Ligature marks were found around Cornell’s neck, and the cause of death was determined to be suicide by hanging.
The Los Angeles County Coroners told us the official cause of Bennington’s death was also a suicide by hanging and that an autopsy report would be forthcoming at the end of July 2017.
Your News Wire also quoted Randy Cody, a person they described as an “investigator”:
Detroit police wrapped up their investigations quickly and the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death a suicide, but investigators are claiming that unexplained gaps in the official timeline of Cornell’s final moments and suspicious inconsistencies in the records suggest that Cornell’s death was not suicide at all, but a premeditated homicide and cover up.
Investigator Randy Cody is among those questioning the suicide ruling. He points to perceived timeline gaps, forensic questions and what he says are two signs that Cornell had a head wound that was not mentioned in autopsy reports.
Cody may be an amateur sleuth, but he is not a law enforcement investigator. He is a blogger who runs The Metal Den web site, where he occupies himself coming up with various theories to prove Cornell was murdered. He was interviewed for a Detroit News story about theories surrounding the singer’s death by fans unsatisfied with the suicide ruling, which is where Your News Wire lifted this information from.
A piece of supposed evidence cited by Cody is a head wound he believes he saw in a YouTube video of Cornell’s last performance at Detroit’s Fox Theater on 17 May 2017 and an unverified recording of radio traffic in which a medic claimed to have seen a wound on the head of an unnamed victim. No mention was made of a head wound in the autopsy report, prompting accusations that the information was “suppressed.” However in the image from the concert it appears the “wound” is simply red stage light reflecting off the singer’s skin.
In a 22 May 2017 post, Cody claimed Cornell was murdered because he was about to expose pedophiles involved in PizzaGate, a debunked conspiracy theory holding that a child sex trafficking ring linked to Hillary Clinton was being run out of Comet Ping Pong, a Washington, D.C., pizzeria. No evidence was offered linking Bennington to the non-existent PizzaGate conspiracy other than a circumstantial reference to a revelation he made in a rock magazine interview that he had been molested when he was a child. PizzaGate has been debunked by none other than conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who was one of the key figures in originally spreading it. Jones apologized and retracted the claim after a man intent on “rescuing” children went to the pizzeria with a rifle in December 2016 and opened fire inside.
Your News Wire is not a reliable source of information — they regularly post inaccurate articles and unfounded conspiracy theories. There is no evidence that Bennington or Cornell were murdered in an effort to cover up a debunked pedophile sex ring.