Chris Benoit, his wife Nancy and their son Daniel were found dead in their home on Monday in a double murder-suicide that started on Friday, June 22 and continued through the weekend.
In a press conference the day after the bodies were found, Fayette County Sheriff Lt. Tommy Pope said that Benoit killed his wife on Friday, his son Daniel the next day, then hanged himself either late Saturday night or early Sunday from the pulley of a piece of exercise equipment. Benoit used weights, the pulley, and a cable to choke himself to death in his basement weight room.
Toxicology reports can take up to several weeks to obtain. Pope said they found all three bodies in the home mid-afternoon around 4:00 PM after a call from Richard Hering of WWE to check on them. "Double Homicide Suicide" is the official ruling. Asphyxiation (killing by depriving of oxygen) is the official ruling for Benoit's wife and son deaths. There was no suicide note found.
Several hours passed, no more than a day, between the son's death and Benoit's. The wife's body was found in the office area, Daniel in his bedroom, and Benoit in the basement home gym. He estimates close to a full day between the killings of his wife and son. The doctor from the crime lab estimates Nancy died some time on Friday. The decomposition of the bodies was staggered enough for them to determine the staggered times of deaths. District Attorney Scott Ballard stated that a Bible was placed near each murder victim. There was no bible found near Chris Benoit's body, however. He also said that ten empty beer cans were found in the Benoit home on Monday as well as an empty bottle of wine where Chris hanged himself.
Benoit tied Nancy's hands and feet and she was wrapped in a towel. Blood was found near Nancy's body and on her face. There was no evidence of Nancy resisting. District Attorney Scott Ballard told ABC News in an interview after the press conference that "the medical examiner found bruising on the small of her back and bruising on the front of her body consistent with being crushed up against the floor". Benoit made no attempt to hide the bodies.
"A lot of prescription medication" was found at the crime scene that was believed to be legal prescriptions, according to Lt. Pope. Anabolic steroids were also found, however those are believed to be prescribed as well. The media has really focused on the steroid aspect of the story, with most media articles speculating that the deaths may have been due to a case of "roid rage". WWE responded to the stories by issuing a press release where they said they were "concerned with the sensationalistic reporting and speculation being undertaken by some members of the media" and made mention that all the drugs found in the house were believed to be legal prescriptions, that there is no factual basis to speculate on Benoit's state of mind and that the act was deliberate, which would not indicate rage. They also adding that Benoit tested negative April 10, the last time he was tested for drugs.
However, CNN reported that an official who is part of the investigation said that Benoit's name was on receipts that indicated he had purchased shipments of anabolic steroids and human growth hormones from Signature Pharmacy, an Orlando, Florida, facility that is at the center of a nationwide investigation into the sale of illegal steroids.
Federal drug enforcement investigators raided the office of Benoit's doctor, Phil Astin. Dr. Astin, told the Associated Press on Wednesday that he met with Benoit that Friday (the day Nancy was killed) and previously had prescribed him testosterone to boost levels of the hormone that were in decline — probably caused by prior steroid use. Chris Benoit was hooked up with Dr. Phil Astin of Carrollton, GA through his friend Mike Durham (Johnny Grunge). As we all know by now, Grunge passed away several years back. Less than 24 hours later, the Drug Enforcement Administration raided Astin's office, focusing on whether Benoit's medical records showed he was prescribed steroids, and if so, whether the prescription was necessary, a law enforcement source told the AP. A DEA spokesman said no arrests were made. Calls to Astin's office went unanswered, and Fayette County Dist. Atty. Scott Ballard could not be reached for comment.
The state prosecutor in the Chris Benoit investigation said Monday he has no plans to file criminal charges in the case, but whether the federal government does is an open question. "From our standpoint, I have no reason to believe there will be any criminal charges at the current time," Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard told The Associated Press. "What the federal government is going to do, it will be up to them." The doctor ended up missing, only to turn himself in the following Monday to face a federal charge in connection with a federal drug probe. Attorney Manny Arora said Dr. Phil Astin will face a single charge involving improperly prescribing medication. He further said that the doctor never prescribed steroids for Benoit despite published reports saying Benoit received prescriptions from Astin for up to a 10 month supply every 3-4 weeks for a year. "There's no connection and the indictments don't have a connection," Arora told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Arora says his client is innocent of the charges and did not prescribe steroids to Benoit, who was his patient and friend for six years.
The Wrestling Observer is also reporting that Nancy Benoit met with Dr. Astin the day before her murder to try and gain information about treating her son Daniel. ESPN.com reported that District Attorney Scott Ballard said Daniel had needle marks on his arm. Pam Winthrope told News 1130 in Canada that Chris Benoit's son had Fragile X syndrome, which may explain why Daniel was taking growth hormone injections. Winthrope, whose son also suffers from the condition, told the Canadian news outlet that her husband reached out to Benoit five years ago in an attempt to increase awareness about Fragile X, which is a defect of the X chromosome which causes mild mental retardation.
It has also been reported that Chris Benoit and Nancy argued frequently in the days before the deaths on how to take care of their son. The couple argued over whether he should stay home more to take care of their mentally retarded 7-year-old son, an attorney for the wrestling league said Wednesday.
"I think it's fair to say that the subject of caring for that child was part of what made their relationship complicated and difficult, and it's something they were both constantly struggling with," said Jerry McDevitt, an attorney for World Wrestling Entertainment. "We do know it was a source of stress and consternation."
McDevitt said the wrestling organization learned from the couple's friends and relatives that the Benoits were struggling with where to send the boy to school since he had recently finished kindergarten. He also said Benoit's wife didn't want him to quit wrestling, but she "wanted him to be at home more to care for the kid. She'd say she can't take care of him by herself when he was on the road."
However, since then there have been additional reports that contradict the earlier information that suggested that Daniel Benoit may have suffered from Fragile X Syndrome. Daniel's family denies that he suffered from either condition. As a result of the family's concerns, the Fayette County Sheriff's investigators and the District Attorney's Office have inquired into this matter. A source having access to certain of Daniel's medical reports reviewed those reports, and they do not mention any pre-existing mental or physical impairment. Reports from Daniel's educators likewise contradict the claims that Daniel was physically undersized. The educators report that Daniel graduated kindergarten and was prepared to enter the first grade on par with the other students.
Chris Benoit had sent several "curious" messages to co-workers over the weekend which the WWE released on Tuesday. The first message was that Saturday at 3:30 PM when A co-worker received a voice message from Benoit. The message from Benoit stated he missed his flight and over slept and would be late to the WWE Live Event. The co-worker called Benoit back, Benoit confirmed everything he said in his voice message and sounded tired and groggy. Benoit then stated, "I love you". The co-worker stated that it was "out of context." Shortly thereafter at 3:42 PM, the co-worker, concerned with Benoit's tone and demeanor, called Benoit for a second time. Benoit did not answer the call and the co-worker left a message stating "just call me back." Minutes later at 3:44 PM, Benoit called the co-worker back stating he didn't answer the call because he was on the phone with Delta changing his flight. Benoit stated he had a real stressful day due to Nancy and Daniel being sick with food poisoning. They discussed travel plans for the WWE Tour of Texas with Benoit still sounding groggy at this point according to the co-worker. About 45 minutes later at 4:30 PM, a co-worker who consistently travels with Benoit, called Benoit from an airport outside of Houston. Benoit told the co-worker that Nancy was throwing up blood and that Daniel was also throwing up. Benoit thought they had food poisoning. Benoit stated he changed his flight and he would be arriving into Houston at 6:30pm. Benoit told the co-worker to drive onto the WWE event.
About an hour later at 5:35 PM, Benoit called WWE Talent Relations stating that his son was throwing up and that he and Nancy were in the hospital with their son, and that Benoit would be taking a later flight into Houston, landing late, but would make the WWE live event in Beaumont.
A representative of Talent Relations later called Benoit at 6:10 PM. The representative from Talent Relations asked Benoit what time Benoit was getting into Beaumont. Benoit responded he was leaving Atlanta at 9:20pm Eastern time arriving into Houston at 9:24pm Central time. The representative from Talent Relations advised Benoit that it would be too late to make the WWE live event in Beaumont. Benoit apologized citing he had a family emergency. The representative from Talent Relations suggested to Benoit that instead of going to the WWE live event in Beaumont, Benoit should take the flight to Houston, rest up and be ready for the Vengeance Pay-Per-View event. The representative called back minutes later at 6:13 PM to reconfirm the travel plans with no answer from Benoit. The representative from Talent Relations left a voice message to take the flight and rest up.
On Sunday, Benoit sent several text messages from his phone and Nancy's phone. The first was sent to two co-workers (the same who had spoken to Benoit the day before) at 3:53 AM from his phone: "C, S. My physical address is 130 Green Meadow Lane. Fayetteville Georgia. 30215". A minute later he sent the same two the following text message: "The dogs are in the enclosed pool area. Garage side door is open". Another minute later to the same two co-workers, this time from Nancy's phone: "C, S. My physical address is 130 Green Meadow Lane. Fayetteville Georgia. 30215". Again from Nancy's phone a minute later to the same two co-workers: " C, S. My physical address is 130 Green Meadow Lane. Fayetteville Georgia. 30215". A few minutes later at 3:58 AM, he sent a text message to a co-worker (believed to be Chavo Guerrero) who consistently traveled with Benoit from Nancy's phone: "My address is 130 Green Meadow Lane. Fayetteville Georgia. 30215".
WWE made several attempts to contact Benoit via phone and text messages, as well as, the local hospitals in the Atlanta area. As of 11:00 pm Sunday night no contact was made with Benoit.
On Monday at around 12:30 PM, WWE was notified of text messages sent to the two co-workers. Concerns over the messages were sent to WWE representative Richard Hering at 12:45 PM, who contacted the Fayetteville County Sheriff's office and requested them to go to Benoit's residence. Regarding the messages, D.A. Ballard said that the "assumption is that that was an effort to try to get somebody to come find the bodies after the suicide. That is our assumption."
Benoit's only prior arrest was for a DUI in the past, but there were no calls to his current residence for domestic abuse. However, a report from the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution states that Nancy Benoit filed for divorce in May 2003 and cited domestic abuse in her court filings. According to the report, she got a restraining order on May 12, 2003 against Chris Benoit. In the divorce petition, Nancy Benoit alleged that Chris Benoit, "lost his temper and threatened to strike the petitioner and cause extensive damage to the home and personal belongings of the parties, including furniture and furnishings. Petitioner is in reasonable fear for petitioner's own safety and that of the minor child." However, on August 19, 2003, Nancy Benoit filed to dismiss the divorce petition and the restraining order. Other than the separation for those three months in 2003, Chris and Nancy lived together since 1997. The couple had married in 2000.
The Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported that Chris Benoit took out a new life insurance policy, which listed his ex-wife and oldest child David, 14, and Megan, 10, as the beneficiaries. Nancy apparently confronted Chris about it and he refused to change it. Nancy also found out that Chris Benoit set up a new bank account in the name of his ex-wife in Edmonton.
Reports are suggesting that people noticed Chris Benoit become a different person after Eddie Guerrero passed away. His wife Nancy was telling her friends that Chris Benoit's drug usage escalated badly after Eddie Guerrero died.
After the death of neighbor Mike Durham (Johnny Grudge) and Victor "Black Cat" Mar, Chris Benoit became worse. Benoit was considered to be Victor Mar's best friend during his time in Japan and Benoit refused to attend Durham's funeral, saying he never wanted to return to church and hated religion. A WWE source said Nancy was a described as a basket case on Thursday, which was a day before reports suggest Benoit killed her. Nancy was upset over the recent passing of her friend, Sherri Martel. Shane Helms also said that Chris Benoit called him on Thursday to check up on how he is keeping as Helms is recovering from a neck surgery.
As of Monday night, June 25th, WWE removed all Chris Benoit merchandise from their website, as well as removing. They also removed the 'I Did It' T-Shirts, which were associated with the Vince McMahon death storyline. On Tuesday, they began removing articles and galleries associated with Chris Benoit, replacing them with promotional articles. They also removed their tribute to Benoit late this morning. Benoit's profile on the ECW website section has been removed as well. At the Smackdown tapings that Tuesday night, any signs in reference to Benoit were confiscated. However, their press release about the tragedy remains on the home page of their website.
WWE officials in Corpus Christi were informed of the deaths at 4:00 p.m on Monday. WWE then held a meeting with wrestlers and talent, informing them of the deaths. WWE scrapped it's plans for Raw that night and made it a tribute to Chris Benoit and his family. Fans were sent home. Wrestlers were also allowed to leave and mourn.
WWE had released the following statement Monday night after learning of the deaths:
"Chris was beloved among his fellow Superstars, and was a favorite among WWE fans for his unbelievable athleticism and wrestling ability. He always took great pride in his performance, and always showed respect for the business he loved, for his peers and towards his fans. This is a terrible tragedy and an unbearable loss. WWE extends its sincere condolences and prayers to the Benoit family and loved ones in this time of tragedy."
We here at WrestlingInc.com would like to offer our condolences to all those affected by this tragedy.