I've been reading Empty Phantoms: Interviews and Encounters with Jack Kerouac (see sidebar on the right). The last entry I read before falling asleep last night was a piece by Larry Vickers called "Jack Kerouac - End of the Road" from the book by John Montgomery, Kerouac at the 'Wild Boar' and Other Skirmishes. While I'd read this fact many times before (e.g., in bios), it struck me that the beating Kerouac took one night in a St. Petersburg bar preceded his death by only a short time.
The coroner's report said that Kerouac died of "gastrointestinal hemorrhage, due to bleeding gastric varix from cirrhosis of liver, due to excessive ethanol intake over many years." In an interview for Esquire in March 1970, Kerouac told Jack McClintock, "I got a goddamn hernia, you know that? My goddamn belly button is popping out."
If someone beats the shit out of a person who has a predisposition to gastrointestinal hemorrhage and an umbilical hernia, and the person dies soon after the beating - couldn't that be murder?
Makes sense to me. I say we re-open the case. Anyone want to file a complaint with the St. Petersburg police? Murder has no statute of limitations, right? I bet it'd make the news.
P.S. I came up with this theory myself, yet it's not the first time the murder supposition has surfaced. See this article.