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Chris Benoit double murder-suicide
Location Fayetteville, Georgia, United States
Date June 22, 2007 – June 25, 2007 (Eastern Time Zone)
Attack type Murder-suicide
Death(s) 3 (including the perpetrator)
Perpetrator Chris Benoit

Over a three day period ending on June 24, 2007, WWE professional wrestler Chris Benoit killed his wife, Nancy Benoit, and then strangled his seven year old son and subsequently hanged himself. Autopsy results showed that Benoit first murdered his wife, Nancy. She was bound at the feet and wrists and died of asphyxiation sometime on Friday, Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard told a news conference. She was wrapped in a towel and some blood was found under her head but Ballard said there were no other signs of a struggle. The couple's son, who also died of asphyxia, was apparently killed as he lay in bed on Saturday morning, hours before Benoit hanged himself. Benoit left no suicide note but placed bibles alongside the bodies of his wife and son, as well as a bible on his weight lifting machine.[1][2] Since Benoit's suicide, numerous explanations for his actions have been proposed, including concussions,[3] steroid abuse,[4] and a failing marriage with his wife.[5] The murder led to numerous media accounts, and federal investigation into steroid abuse in professional wrestling.

Contents

Murder and suicide

Nancy Benoit

Sometime on Friday, June 22, Benoit killed his wife in an upstairs family room. Her limbs were bound and her body wrapped in a towel. A Bible was left by her body. Injuries indicated that someone had pressed a knee into the back while pulling on a cord around the neck, causing strangulation. Blood was also found under her head, suggesting she may have tried to fend off her attacker.[6]

Between the two murders

At about 3:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday, June 23, Chavo Guerrero[7] received a voice message from Benoit's phone stating that he overslept and missed his flight and would be late for that night's house show in Beaumont, Texas. Guerrero called Benoit back and Benoit sounded tired and groggy as he confirmed everything that he had said in his voice message. Guerrero, "concerned about Benoit's tone and demeanor," called him back twelve minutes later. Benoit did not answer the call and Guerrero left a message stating, "just call me back". At 3:44 p.m. EDT, Benoit called Guerrero back, stating that he did not answer the call because he was on the phone with Delta Air Lines changing his flight. Benoit stated that he "had a real stressful day due to Nancy and Daniel being sick with food poisoning." A co-worker who often traveled with Benoit called him from outside the Houston airport and Benoit answered. Benoit told the co-worker that Nancy was throwing up blood and that Daniel was also throwing up.

On Sunday, June 24, five text messages were sent to co-workers between 3:51 a.m. and 3:58 a.m. using both Chris Benoit's and Nancy Benoit's cell phones. Four of them were the Benoits' address; the fifth said that the family's dogs were in the enclosed pool area and noted a garage side door was open.

It is also known that during this time, Benoit called and left a voicemail for an unknown friend. Benoit later called WWE's "Talent Relations" office, stating that his son was throwing up and that he and Nancy were in the hospital with their son, and that he would be taking a later flight into Houston, but would not make the live event in Beaumont.[8]

Daniel Benoit

Daniel Benoit was suffocated and killed by Chris Benoit in his bedroom. A Bible was left by his body.[9] The boy had internal injuries to the throat area, but showed no bruises.[10] Daniel's exact time of death is unknown.[11] The reports also determine that Daniel was sedated with Xanax and likely unconscious when he was killed.[12][13] A large knife was also found underneath Daniel's bed, but was unused in either of the murders.

It has been alleged that Daniel had Fragile X syndrome, and this caused domestic problems in the Benoit family.[9] It was also suggested that since there were needle marks in Daniel's arms, due to having been given growth hormones because Benoit and his family considered him undersized due to Fragile X.[14] Benoit's coworker and friend, wrestler Chris Jericho, stated that from his own research on the condition, the symptoms "fit Daniel to a tee, all across the board." With regard to those who had publicly stated that they had no knowledge of Daniel suffering from the condition, Jericho said "If Chris had decided that he wanted to keep it to himself, you wouldn't have been able to pry that out of him with anything."[15]

However, District Attorney Ballard later released a statement saying that a source having access to Daniel's medical files found no mention of any pre-existing mental or physical ailments. Likewise, Daniel Benoit's educators reported that he was on par with other students and not about to be held back as previously thought.[16] Whether or not Daniel suffered from Fragile X Syndrome has never been officially established.

Chris Benoit

Chris Benoit, according to District Attorney Ballard, died of suicide by hanging.[11] Benoit apparently used a cord, normally part of the weight machine, to hang himself by creating a noose from the end of the weight cord. When Benoit released the weights — approximately 240 pounds (110 kg), a total weight greater than that of Benoit's body — it caused his strangulation. Ballard said the pull-down bar had been removed and Benoit was hanging from a pulley.

Discovery of the bodies

On Monday, June 25, WWE was notified of the text messages sent to Chavo Guerrero and Scott Armstrong. The company asked the Fayette County Sheriff's Department to check on the Benoit family. After discovering the bodies, the police notified WWE around 4:15 p.m., informing them that they had discovered three bodies at the Benoit home and the house was now ruled as a "major crime scene".[8]

Possible motives

WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt appeared on Live with Dan Abrams on July 17, 2007 and said that Benoit was prescribed testosterone as part of a treatment for testosterone replacement therapy, which McDevitt said was a common medical practice for people who had used steroids in the past, and had suffered testicular damage as a result. Former wrestler Christopher Nowinski has said that Benoit may have been suffering from repeated, untreated concussions throughout his wrestling career, ultimately leading to an unstable mental state. Nowinski has been quoted as saying that Benoit "was one of the only guys who would take a chair shot to the back of the head ... which is stupid."[17] Tests were conducted on Benoit's brain by Julian Bailes, the head of neurosurgery at West Virginia University, and results showed that "Benoit's brain was so severely damaged it resembled the brain of an 85-year-old Alzheimer's patient."[18] Tests conducted on Benoit's brain tissue have revealed he did in fact suffer from severe chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE),[19] and had brain damage in all four lobes of the brain and brain stem.[20] These tests revealed similar results to the study of the brains of four retired NFL players who have suffered multiple concussions, sank into depression and harmed themselves or others. Bailes and his colleagues concluded that repeated concussions can lead to dementia, which can contribute to severe behavioral problems. Benoit's father suggests that brain damage may have been the leading cause of the double murder-suicide.[21] A statement released by WWE dismissed this idea as "speculative."[22]

Nancy Benoit had filed for divorce in May 2005, allegedly after domestic abuse from Chris, but had withdrawn it in August 2005, according to the County's District Attorney Scott Ballard.[9] In February 2008, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reported that Nancy may have suspected her husband of having an affair with a WWE Diva, and that they may have also argued over a life insurance policy. The AJC claimed the source was a recently released report from the Fayette County Sheriff's Office.[23]

Responses

World Wrestling Entertainment

The event was first reported to fans of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) on their WWE Mobile Alerts Service and posted to their official website soon after. On their website, the company released the following statement:

World Wrestling Entertainment is deeply saddened to report that today Chris Benoit and his family were found dead in their home. There are no further details at this time, other than the Benoit family residence is currently being investigated by local authorities. Tonight’s Raw on USA Network will serve as a tribute to Chris Benoit and his family. WWE extends its sincerest thoughts and prayers to the Benoit family’s relatives and loved ones in this time of tragedy.[24]

WWE cancelled the scheduled three-hour-long live Raw show on June 25 (which was supposed to be a scripted memorial of the Mr. McMahon character, who was presumed dead in a limo explosion on an episode of Raw almost two weeks prior), and replaced the broadcast version with a tribute to his life and career, featuring past matches, segments from the Hard Knocks: The Chris Benoit Story DVD, and comments from wrestlers and announcers. Shortly after the program aired, many of the aired comments were posted on WWE.com. It was not until the program was nearly over that reports surfaced that police were working under the belief that Benoit murdered his wife and son before killing himself. The next night, after the details of the deaths became concrete, the company aired a recorded statement by its Chairman Vince McMahon before their ECW broadcast:

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Last night on Monday Night Raw, the WWE presented a special tribute show, recognizing the career of Chris Benoit. However, now some 26 hours later, the facts of this horrific tragedy are now apparent. Therefore, other than my comments, there will be no mention of Mr. Benoit's name tonight. On the contrary, tonight's show will be dedicated to everyone who has been affected by this terrible incident. This evening marks the first step of the healing process. Tonight, the WWE performers will do what they do better than anyone else in the world: entertain you.

Since learning about the full details of his and his family's deaths, WWE has quickly and quietly distanced itself from Chris Benoit:

  • With the exception of his results and listings in WWE's title history (though the summaries of his title reigns have been removed), and select press releases from WWE's corporate subsite,[25] WWE's website removed all past mentions of Benoit, including all news articles relating to the true, specific details of the killings as well as his biography and the video tribute comments from Benoit's peers. Recently, however, they have acknowledged on WWE's Royal Rumble page that Benoit held the second longest time competing in a Rumble Match.
  • Their merchandising subsite, wweshop.com, followed suit with regard to all Benoit-related merchandise. Benoit merchandise however, including action figures, is still available at retail stores. On other products such as wrestling figures, Benoit figures are advertised on the back of the packaging. WWE have started putting stickers over these. WWE also has decided to edit out all matches that contained Benoit from rebroadcasts of matches from their extensive video library.
  • At the time of Benoit's death, Montel Vontavious Porter was still the WWE United States Champion, having beaten Benoit for the title. After details of Benoit's death emerged, WWE acknowledged that MVP held the title during that time, but they refuse to specify how.
  • Since the incident, no matches involving Benoit have been on any new DVD releases by WWE, with the exception of the Royal Rumble Anthology Vol. III and IV DVDs that were reissued in January 2008, and the SummerSlam Anthology Boxset Vol. III & IV, released in August 2008, over a year after his death. Footage of Benoit is also shown in the Triple H: King of Kings - There Is Only One DVD, Batista : I Walk Alone DVD where he is shown in the 2005 Royal Rumble, Nature Boy Ric Flair: The Definitive Collection DVD, where he is briefly shown in a Four Horsemen segment, as well as "Viva La Raza: The Legacy of Eddie Guerrero" DVD, where he is shown in The Radicals entrance video, as well as during an Eddie/Benoit feud recap video. These make them the only four DVD documentaries that WWE has released since his death that acknowledged his time with the company.
  • Benoit, along with his finisher the Crippler Crossface and other signature moves were also removed from the WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2008 video game after originally being included as a playable wrestler, although his entire moveset can be unlocked using cheat devices in both the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable versions.[26] His moves were put back into the series in SmackDown vs. Raw 2010 however.
  • The Legacy Of Stone Cold Steve Austin DVD featured a match between Austin and Triple H from Survivor Series 2000 which Benoit interfered in. Those parts are edited out.
  • The United Kingdom Tagged Classics release of Survivor Series 1999 and Survivor Series 2000 by Silver Vision (2008), however, have kept the entire match as originally aired and originally released on home video, including all Benoit references and backstage fighting.
  • Benoit was also put in the WWE Encyclopedia where they acknowledge his wrestling history up to where he lost the World Heavyweight Championship to Randy Orton and they also acknowledge his title history.

Professional wrestling industry

Numerous individuals in professional wrestling, past and present, commented on the deaths and their aftermath:

  • Semi-retired professional wrestler Hulk Hogan commented solely on the personalities of Benoit and his thoughts on the crime, saying: "He was peaceful and kept to himself" and "I think it had to be something personal, a domestic problem between him and his wife."[27]
  • Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) employee and former WWF/E co-worker Kurt Angle. Angle chose to comment more on the frenzy created by the crime, stating "This is not WWE’s fault and this is not Vince McMahon’s fault. Chris Benoit was responsible for his own actions."[28]
  • Eric Bischoff, on his website, also commented on the media frenzy, saying: "It's clear that the media wants to blame steroids, professional wrestling, Vince McMahon, or anyone or anything else that further sensationalizes this family tragedy. I refuse to join the choir. I don't have enough information. I wasn't there. I am not a psychiatrist. I just can't imagine how or why this could have happened."[29]

In 2003, Benoit was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame. As a result of the double murder-suicide, his induction underwent a recall election in 2008. Nonetheless, Benoit remained a member.

Media

When the news was released about Benoit's death, most mainstream news outlets covered the story, including MSNBC and Fox News Channel.[38][39] Benoit made the cover of People magazine. ECW Press announced on July 16 that noted wrestling writer Irvin Muchnick had written a book on the Benoit case, due out in 2008.[40] At the Comedy Central Roast of Flavor Flav in August 2007, Jimmy Kimmel joked to honoree Flavor Flav that "Chris Benoit is a better father than Flavor Flav", which drew a shocked, appalled response, and laughs from the crowd.[41]

Immediately following the deaths WWE Classics On Demand, WWE's subscription video on demand service, began removing the likeness and mentions of both Chris and Nancy Benoit from archival footage.[42][43] They eventually returned Nancy to programming, but continue to remove Chris from bi-weekly uploaded episodes of WCW Monday Nitro.

Government

With Benoit and his death allegedly linked to steroid abuse, WWE is currently under investigation by the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform regarding their talent wellness policy.[44] As of June 2009, Congress has taken no action against either the WWE or any other professional wrestling company. In January 2009, Henry Waxman, outgoing chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, requested that the Office of National Drug Control Policy chief, John P. Walters, "examine steroid use in professional wrestling and take appropriate steps to address this problem." In the letter, Waxman stated "In the first year of WWE's testing program, which began in March 2006, 40% of wrestlers tested positive for steroids and other drugs, even after being warned in advance that they were going to be tested." He also wrote about how wrestlers who test positive for performance enhancers receive light punishment and afterwards can often participate in wrestling events. The committee investigation also uncovered how easily wrestlers can secure "therapeutic use exemptions" (TUEs, permission to take banned substances for medical reasons) so they can continue performing while using steroids. When Waxman's staff interviewed Dr. Tracy Ray, a physician contracted by WWE, Ray claimed there was "shadiness in almost every [TUE] case that I've reviewed."[45]

Steroids debate

Background

Steroids were found in the home, leading some media organizations to hypothesize that a steroid-induced rage may be the cause of Benoit's actions, as some doctors have linked steroid use to uncontrollable anger, among other psychological issues which include paranoia.[38][46] WWE released a press-statement, challenging the "roid-rage" claims. One part of the statement reads:

The physical findings announced by authorities indicate deliberation, not rage. The wife’s feet and hands were bound and she was asphyxiated, not beaten to death. By the account of the authorities, there were substantial periods of time between the death of the wife and the death of the son, again suggesting deliberate thought, not rage. The presence of a Bible by each is also not an act of rage.[47]

Prosecutors in New York have been investigating the deliveries Benoit received from Signature Pharmacy and MedXLife.com, which sold steroids and human growth hormone (HGH) over the internet.[48] Terence Kindlon, who is the lawyer for MedXLife co-owner Dr. Gary Brandwein, denied allegations that his client's company sold steroids to Benoit.[48] Brandwein has pleaded not guilty to six counts in New York state court related to the criminal sale of a controlled substance.[49] According to a report from Sports Illustrated, three packages sent to Benoit were from Signature Pharmacy with the first one sent in December 2005 to San Antonio, Texas. The second package was sent on February 13, 2006 to an address in Peachtree City, Georgia and the third package was sent in July 2006 to Fort Walton Beach, Florida.[50] This followed eleven superstars that were announced in a Sports Illustrated steroids investigation that began March 2007, which included Kurt Angle, Eddie Guerrero, Oscar Gutierrez (Rey Mysterio, Jr.), Randy Orton, Adam Copeland (Edge) and Gregory Helms, with both Copeland and Helms receiving a high amount of steroids.[51]

WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt has stated that "they believe the facts of this crime do not support the hypothesis that 'roid rage' played a role in the murders." They cite evidence of premeditation in addition to the lack of a toxicology report, and the fact that the steroids found within Benoit's home were legally prescribed.[47][52] Dr. Gary I. Wadler who currently serves on the World Anti-Doping Agency's Prohibited List and Methods Committee and has served on its Health, Medicine, and Research Committee agreed stating that "that was a premeditated act and that's not rage".[53] Investigators seized both Chris and Nancy's medical records. They also have medical records of Mark Jindrak, Hardcore Holly (Robert Howard), Lex Luger (Lawrence Pfohl), Rey Mysterio, Jr., Buff Bagwell (Marcus Bagwell), and Johnny Grunge (Mike Durham), all of whom were patients of Dr. Phil Astin.[54][55][56] The toxicology report on Chris Benoit's body was released Tuesday, July 17, 2007 at 2:30 p.m. EDT.[13][57]

Toxicology results

At the press conference held by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation at 2:30 p.m. EDT on July 17, 2007, it was announced that three different drugs were found in Nancy Benoit's system: hydrocodone, hydromorphone and Xanax. All three drugs were found to be at levels investigators considered normal for therapeutic treatment (as opposed to recreational use or abuse.) A blood-alcohol level was found at 0.184. Dr. Kris Sperry added it was impossible to say whether any of the blood findings was due to ingestion of alcohol or the post-mortem process. It was also ruled out that Nancy was sedated by Chris before she was murdered.[58]

Xanax was found in Daniel Benoit's system. District Attorney Scott Ballard noted this was not a drug that would be given to a child under normal circumstances. It is believed that Daniel was sedated prior to being murdered, with Dr. Sperry ruling out that Daniel died of a drug overdose.[58] The GBI, however, said in the press conference that it could not perform tests for steroids or human growth hormones on Daniel because of a lack of urine.[59]

Xanax and hydrocodone were also found in Chris Benoit's system, at levels investigators called consistent with therapeutic use. Elevated levels of testosterone cypionate were found in his urine; investigators believed that the level found suggested it had been taken recently. No artificial steroids were found in Chris's urine (with the exception of this testosterone cypionate) nor was there evidence of GHB, contrary to speculation.[58] Benoit also tested negative for blood alcohol.[60][61]

Dr. Astin

Dr. Phil C. Astin III was the personal doctor for Chris Benoit. Astin is currently serving a ten year sentence at Morgantown FCI. Attorneys for Dr. Astin had asked a judge to throw out evidence seized during a raid on Astin's office after the death of Benoit and his family. Astin's attorney, Manny Arora claimed that the search exceeded authority granted in a search warrant and that authorities seized patients' records other than Benoit as well as three years of bank records and computers. This comes from Wrestling Observer, a newsletter dedicated to professional wrestling. According to the Associated Press in February 2008, Astin had been charged with overprescribing medication in a case not connected to Benoit.[62] On January 29, 2009, Astin admitted he illegally prescribed drugs, sometimes without even examining the patients first and pleaded guilty to all 175 counts against him. Astin is facing a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million on each count. He was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison for illegally prescribing medicine to his patients. Astin was charged with 175 counts.[63]

Wikipedia controversy

A statement regarding Nancy Benoit's death was added to the Chris Benoit English Wikipedia article fourteen hours before police discovered the bodies of Benoit and his family. This seemingly prescient addition was initially reported on Wikinews and later on Fox News Channel. The article originally read: "Chris Benoit was replaced by Johnny Nitro for the ECW World Championship match at Vengeance, as Benoit was not there due to personal issues, stemming from the death of his wife Nancy." The phrase "stemming from the death of his wife Nancy" was added at 12:01 a.m. EDT on June 25,[64] whereas the Fayette County police reportedly discovered the bodies of the Benoit family at 2:30 p.m. EDT (14 hours, 29 minutes later). The IP address of the editor was traced to Stamford, Connecticut, which is also the location of WWE headquarters.[65] After news of the early death notice reached mainstream media, the anonymous poster accessed Wikinews to explain his edit as a "huge coincidence and nothing more."[66][67]

Police detectives "seized computer equipment from the [man held] responsible for the postings" and called the posting an unbelievable "hindrance" to their investigation, but believed he was otherwise uninvolved, declining to press charges.[68][69] The man had found several rumors on-line[70] which supported his theory about the Benoit "family emergency" as reported in wrestling news; the IP from which he made the edit in question has been tentatively traced to vandalizing the Wikipedia entries for Ron Artest, Stacy Keibler, and Naugatuck, Connecticut.[71]

Notes

  1. ^ http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,286834,00.html
  2. ^ http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/Story?id=3562665&page=1
  3. ^ http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=3560015&page=1
  4. ^ http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,289649,00.html
  5. ^ http://www.wsbtv.com/news/15281734/detail.html
  6. ^ Blane Bachelor (2007-06-25). "Officials: unknown attacker Strangled Wife, Suffocated Son, did drugs". Fox News Channel. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,286737,00.html. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  7. ^ Keller, Wade (2007-07-18). "Pro Wrestling Torch: Chavo Guerrero interview on Greta van Susteren show". Pro Wrestling Torch. http://pwtorch.com/artman2/publish/WWE_News_3/article_21032.shtml. 
  8. ^ a b "Chris Benoit Timeline". Daily News (New York). World Wrestling Entertainment. 2007-06-27. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/2007/06/27/2007-06-27_chris_benoit_timeline-2.html. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  9. ^ a b c "Police: Benoit killed wife, son, left Bibles by their bodies". The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. 2007-06-25. http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/fayette/stories/2007/06/25/0625benoit.html. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  10. ^ Kevin Duffy (2007-06-27). "Atlanta Journal-Constitution (transcribed to WrestlingDotCom)". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Wrestling Dot Com. http://www.wrestlingdotcom.com/almanac/detailed-report-on-the-death-of-the-beniot-family/. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  11. ^ a b David Lohr (June 25, 2007). "Authorities Confirm Chris Benoit Murdered Wife and Son". CrimeLibrary.com. http://www.crimelibrary.com/news/original/0607/2701_chris_benoit.html. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  12. ^ Montgomery, James (2007-07-17). "Chris Benoit Had Steroids, Other Drugs In His System At Time Of Murder-Suicide". MTV News (MTV Networks). http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1564953/20070717/index.jhtml. Retrieved 2009-04-04. "The reports also determine that Benoit's 7-year-old son, Daniel, was sedated with Xanax when he was killed." 
  13. ^ a b Sutton, Larry (2007-07-17). "Official: Chris Benoit's Son Was Sedated When Killed". People. http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20046857,00.html. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  14. ^ Mike Fish (2007-06-27). "Steroids discovered in probe of slayings, suicide". ESPN. http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?id=2917133. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  15. ^ "Nancy Grace". Nancy Grace. CNN. 2007-06-28.
  16. ^ "Prosecutor disputes that Benoit son had Fragile X". Associated Press (ESPN). 2007-07-03. http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?id=2925280. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  17. ^ Brenda Goodman (2007-06-26). "Wrestler Killed Wife and Son, Then Himself". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/27/us/27wrestler.html?_r=4&ref=us&oref=slogin&oref=slogin&oref=slogin&oref=slogin. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  18. ^ "Benoit's Brain Showed Severe Damage From Multiple Concussions, Doctor and Dad Say". ABC News. 2007-09-05. http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=3560015&page=1. Retrieved 2007-09-05. 
  19. ^ "Wrestler Chris Benoit Brain's Forensic Exam Consistent With Numerous Brain Injuries". Science Daily. 2007-09-06. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070905224343.htm. Retrieved 2008-05-01. 
  20. ^ "Benoit's Brain Showed Severe Damage From Multiple Concussions, Doctor and Dad Say". Good Morning America. ABC News. 2007-09-05. http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Story?id=3560015&page=2. Retrieved 2008-05-01. 
  21. ^ "Brain Study: Concussions Caused Benoit's Rage". WSB Atlanta. http://www.wsbtv.com/news/14047066/detail.html/. Retrieved 2007-09-05. 
  22. ^ Jon Swartz (2007-09-05). "Doctor: Wrestler Benoit had 'shocking' brain damage". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-09-05-benoit_N.htm. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  23. ^ Hollis, John (2008-02-15). "Benoit's wife may have been planning to leave him". The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/fayette/stories/2008/02/15/benoit_0217.html. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  24. ^ "WWE Superstar Chris Benoit Found Dead". WWE Corporate. 2007-06-25. http://corporate.wwe.com/news/2007/2007_06_25.jsp. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  25. ^ "World Wrestling Entertainment Issues Statement". WWE Corporate. 2007-07-17. http://corporate.wwe.com/news/2007/2007_07_17.jsp. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  26. ^ Warneck, Jereme (2007-12-13). "Jereme Warneck has strong opinions regarding aspects of Smackdown Vs. Raw 2008". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. http://www.wrestlingobserver.com/wo/news/headlines/default.asp?aID=21568. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  27. ^ "Hulk Hogan talks to US About the Killer Wrestler". Us Weekly. 2007-07-03. http://usmagazine.com/hulk_hogan_talks_to_i_us_i_about_the_killer_wrestler. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  28. ^ Linder, Brian (2007-07-15). "Angle: Tragedy shows need to step back, take a look". TMZ.com. http://www.thetandd.com/articles/2007/07/15/sports/local/doc4699942d2bfd7528431434.txt. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  29. ^ Eric Bischoff (2007-06-28). "How Can This Be?"". ericbischoff.com. http://www.ericbischoff.com/BlogComments.asp?ID=47. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  30. ^ Hoff, Valerie (2007-06-27). "Lex Luger Talks About Chris Benoit". Tampla Bay's 10. http://www.tampabays10.com/news/local/article.aspx?s=rss&storyid=57831. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  31. ^ Maxwell, Scott (2007-06-28). "Ex-wrestler boils about WWE pressure-cooker". Orlando Sentinel (OrlandoSentinel.com). Archived from the original on 2007-07-12. http://web.archive.org/web/20070712171706/http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/state/orl-maxwell2807jun28,0,6820570.column?coll=orl_news_local_state_util. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  32. ^ Storm, Lance (2007-07-02). "Benoit Tragedy". StormWrestling.com. http://www.stormwrestling.com/070207.html. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  33. ^ Smith, Michael David (2007-06-28). "Joanie Laurer (Chyna) Blasts Vince McMahon, WWE in Chris Benoit Murder-Suicide". AOL Sports Fan House. http://www.mmafighting.com/2007/06/28/joanie-laurer-chyna-bashes-vince-mcmahon-wwe-in-chris-benoit/. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  34. ^ "Wrestler: Don't Blame WWE for Benoit Killings". TMZ.com. 2007-07-10. http://www.tmz.com/2007/07/10/wrestler-dont-blame-wwe-for-benoit-killings/. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  35. ^ Keller, Wade (2007-06-28). "Benoit Story: Chris Jericho speaks HN's Nancy Grace show, which spent 40 minutes on Benoit". PWTorch. Archived from the original on 2007-07-01. http://web.archive.org/web/20070701200016/http://www.pwtorch.com/artman/publish/article_20717.shtml. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  36. ^ Kotton, Howard (2007-11-04). "Chris Benoit drugs 'unusual' amongst WWE wrestlers". Herald Sun (News Corporation). http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,22699240-401,00.html. Retrieved 2007-11-05. 
  37. ^ Transcript: "McMahons: WWE not to blame for Benoit's actions". CNN. 2007-11-07. http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/11/07/mcmahons.transcript/index.html?iref=newssearch. Retrieved 2008-05-21.  The interview was conducted by Drew Griffin.
  38. ^ a b "Cops eye 'roid rage in wrestler's murder-suicide". Associated Press (MSNBC). 2007-06-27. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19424899/. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  39. ^ Associated Press (2007-06-26). "Cops Suspect Murder-Suicide in Killings of Pro Wrestler Chris Benoit and His Family". Fox News Channel. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,286673,00.html. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  40. ^ Muchnick, Irvin (2007-07-16). "Chris and Nancy Story of Benoit Murder-Suicide". ECW News. http://benoitbook.muchnick.net/. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  41. ^ "Comedy Central Roast of Flavor Flav". Comedy Central Roast. Comedy Central. 2007-08-12. No. 5. 90 minutes in.
  42. ^ "Benoit Edited Off Of WWE 24/7, Heated Warrior Interview, Lance Storm". PWPix.net. http://www.pwpix.net/headlines/185532428.php. Retrieved 2007-07-08. 
  43. ^ "Possible WrestleMania XXV Sites, Benoit Match On WWE 24/7, Raw Rating Delayed". Rajah.com. http://rajah.com/base/node/8452. Retrieved 2007-07-08. 
  44. ^ Associated Press (2007-07-28). "Congress wants WWE's info on steroids, doping". MSNBC. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20002071/. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  45. ^ http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/more_sports/2009/01/02/2009-01-02_congress_needles_wrestling.html
  46. ^ Catherine Donaldson-Evans (2007-06-27). "Wrestler Chris Benoit Double Murder-Suicide: Was It 'Roid Rage'?". Fox News Channel. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,286834,00.html. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  47. ^ a b "WWE Shocked At Latest Developments In Benoit Tragedy, Concerned By Sensationalistic Reporting". WWE Corporate. 2007-06-26. http://corporate.wwe.com/news/2007/2007_06_26.jsp. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  48. ^ a b Bluestein, Greg (2007-06-28). "McMahon: Don't Assume 'Roids in Deaths". San Francisco Chronicle (Associated Press). http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2007/06/28/national/a072723D43.DTL. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  49. ^ Hill, Michael (2007-03-05). "Steroids probe widens as more are charged". USA Today (Associated Press). http://www.usatoday.com/sports/2007-03-05-2377538304_x.htm. Retrieved 2009-04-05. 
  50. ^ Luis Fernando Llosa and L. Jon Wertheim (2007-06-26). "WWE downplays drug factor". Sports Illustrated.com. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/more/06/26/benoitcase/. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  51. ^ Luis Fernando Llosa and L. Jon Wertheim (2007-03-19). "Wrestlers allegedly tied to drug ring". Sports Illustrated. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/more/03/19/wrestlers/index.html. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  52. ^ "Drug Agents Raid Offices of Pro Wrestler Chris Benoit's Personal Physician". Fox News Channel. 2007-06-28. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,287183,00.html. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  53. ^ Duffy, Kevin. "Control issues cited instead of 'roid rage' in Benoit killings". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/fayette/stories/2007/07/02/0703domestic.html. Retrieved 2007-07-03. 
  54. ^ Schoetz, David (2007-07-12). "Beyond Benoit: More Wrestlers Tied to Doc". ABC News. http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/story?id=3370423&page=1. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  55. ^ "Separate Funerals Set for Wrestler Benoit and Family". CNN International (CNN Transcripts). 2007-07-13. http://edition.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0707/13/ng.01.html. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  56. ^ "Nation in Brief". The Washington Post. 2007-07-12. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/12/AR2007071202036_pf.html. Retrieved 2009-04-04. "A sheriff's official previously said that [Phil] Astin is also being investigated in the February 2006 death of another wrestler, Michael Durham." 
  57. ^ "Toxicology Report for Benoit Murder-Suicide Released". CNN International (CNN). 2007-07-17. http://edition.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0707/17/ng.01.html. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  58. ^ a b c Greg Bluestein (2007-07-17). "GBI: Benoit, family had drugs in bodies". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/fayette/stories/2007/07/17/benoit_0717.html?cxntlid=homepage_tab_newstab. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  59. ^ "Steroids, other drugs found in Benoit's body". MSNBC. 2007-07-17. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19810373/?GT1=10150. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  60. ^ "Wrestler's slain son was probably sedated, investigators say". Associated Press (CNN). 2007-07-17. http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/07/17/wrestler.murder.ap/index.html. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  61. ^ "Steroid found in Benoit's body". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. 2007-07-17. http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/Benoit/2007/07/17/4346517-ap.html. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  62. ^ Weber, Harry R. (2008-02-04). "Defence seeks delay in trial of personal physician of late pro wrestler Benoit" (Internet Archive). Associated Press (Prince George Citizen). http://www.princegeorgecitizen.com/20080204110990/sports/wire-sports/defence-seeks-delay-in-trial-of-personal-physician-of-late-pro-wrestler-benoit.html. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  63. ^ "Doctor Of Dead Wrestler Pleads Guilty To 175 Counts". Associated Press (WSB-TV). January 29, 2009. http://www.wsbtv.com/news/18595253/detail.html#-. Retrieved 2009-02-04. 
  64. ^ Edit to Chris Benoit Wikipedia entry on June 25, 2007, 04:01 UTC
  65. ^ Bachelor, Blane (2007-06-28). "Web Time Stamps Indicate Benoit Death Reported About 14 Hours Before Police Found Bodies". Fox News Channel. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,287194,00.html. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  66. ^ "Anonymous poster comments on Wikinews". http://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Talk:Death_of_Nancy_Benoit_rumour_posted_on_Wikipedia_hours_prior_to_body_being_found&diff=449245&oldid=449236. 
  67. ^ "User admits 'death' editing on Wikipedia 14 hours before bodies found". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 2007-06-28. http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/fayette/stories/2007/06/28/0628wiki.html. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  68. ^ Schoetz, David (2007-06-29). "Police: Wiki Confession an 'Unbelievable Hindrance'". ABC News. http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/story?id=3327310&page=1. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  69. ^ Lowe, Zach (2007-07-03). "Stamford teen posted entry on death of wrestler's wife" (PDF). The Advocate (Hearst Corporation). http://www.journalism.wisc.edu/j202/discussion_fall07/wk7_var_benoit.pdf. Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
  70. ^ Gibson, Jano (2008-06-29). "Benoit mystery's Wiki twist: I did it". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/benoit-mysterys-wiki-twist/2007/06/29/1182624122107.html?page=2. Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
  71. ^ Corey Spring (2007-06-29). "The College Student Who 'Knew' About the Benoit Murder-Suicide Before Police". Newsvine. http://spring.newsvine.com/_news/2007/06/29/808872-the-college-student-who-knew-about-the-benoit-murder-suicide-before-police. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 

External links


Chris Benoit double murder-suicide
Location Fayetteville, Georgia, United States
Date June 22, 2007 – June 25, 2007 (Eastern Time Zone)
Attack type Murder-suicide
Death(s) 3 (including the perpetrator)
Belligerent Chris Benoit

Over a three-day period ending on June 24, 2007, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) professional wrestler Chris Benoit killed his wife, Nancy Benoit, strangled his seven-year-old son, Daniel, and subsequently hanged himself. Autopsy results showed that Benoit first murdered his wife, Nancy. She was bound at the feet and wrists and died of asphyxiation sometime on Friday, Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard told a news conference. She was wrapped in a towel and some blood was found under her head but Ballard said there were no other signs of a struggle. The couple's son, who also died of asphyxia, was apparently killed as he lay in bed on Saturday morning, hours before Benoit hanged himself in his weight room. Benoit left no suicide note but placed copies of the Bible alongside the bodies of his wife and son, as well as a Bible on his weight lifting machine.[1][2] Since Benoit's suicide, numerous explanations for his actions have been proposed, including concussions,[3] steroid abuse,[4] and a failing marriage with his wife.[5] The murder led to numerous media accounts, and federal investigation into steroid abuse in professional wrestling.

Contents

Murder and suicide

Nancy Benoit

On Friday, June 22, Chris Benoit killed his wife Nancy in an upstairs office. Her limbs were bound, and her body wrapped in a towel. A copy of the Bible was left by her body. Injuries indicated that Benoit had pressed a knee into the back while pulling on a cord around the neck, causing strangulation. Blood was also found under her head, suggesting she may have tried to fend off her attacker.[6]

Between the two murders

At about 3:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday, June 23, Chavo Guerrero[7] received a voicemail message from Benoit's phone stating that he overslept and missed his flight and would be late for that night's house show in Beaumont, Texas. Guerrero called Benoit back and Benoit sounded tired and groggy as he confirmed everything that he had said in his voice message. Guerrero, who was "concerned about Benoit's tone and demeanor," called him back twelve minutes later. Benoit did not answer the call and Guerrero left a message asking Benoit to call back.

At 3:44 p.m. EDT, Benoit called Guerrero back, stating that he did not answer the call because he was on the phone with Delta Air Lines changing his flight. Benoit stated that he had a stressful day due to Nancy and Daniel "being sick with food poisoning". A coworker who often traveled with Benoit called him from outside the Houston airport and Benoit answered. Benoit told the coworker that Nancy was vomiting blood and that Daniel was also throwing up.

On Sunday, June 24, five text messages were sent to co-workers between 3:51 a.m. and 3:58 a.m. using both Chris Benoit's and Nancy Benoit's cell phones. Four of them were the Benoits' address; the fifth said that the family's dogs were in the enclosed pool area and noted a garage side door was open.

It is also known that during this time, Benoit called and left a voicemail for an unknown friend. Benoit later called WWE's "Talent Relations" office, stating that his son was throwing up and that he and Nancy were in the hospital with their son, and that he would be taking a later flight into Houston, but would not make the live event in Beaumont.[8]

Daniel Benoit

Daniel Benoit was suffocated and killed in his bedroom, and a Bible was left by his body.[9] The boy had internal injuries to the throat area, but showed no bruises.[10] Daniel's exact time of death is unknown.[11] The reports also determine that Daniel was sedated with Xanax and likely unconscious when he was killed.[12][13] A large butcher knife was also found underneath Daniel's bed, but the knife wasn't used in either of the murders.

It was later alleged that Daniel had Fragile X syndrome, and that this was the cause of domestic problems in the Benoit family.[9] It was also suggested that since there were needle marks in Daniel's arms, due to having been given growth hormones because Benoit and his family considered him undersized due to Fragile X.[14] Benoit's coworker and friend, wrestler Chris Jericho, stated that from his own research on the condition, the symptoms "fit Daniel to a tee, all across the board." With regard to those who had publicly stated that they had no knowledge of Daniel suffering from the condition, Jericho said "If Chris had decided that he wanted to keep it to himself, you wouldn't have been able to pry that out of him with anything."[15]

However, District Attorney Ballard later released a statement saying that a source having access to Daniel's medical files found no mention of any pre-existing mental or physical ailments. Likewise, Daniel Benoit's educators reported that he was on par with other students and not about to be held back as previously thought.[16] Whether Daniel suffered from Fragile X Syndrome has never been officially established.

Chris Benoit

Chris Benoit, according to District Attorney Ballard, committed suicide by hanging.[11] Benoit apparently used a weight machine cord to hang himself by creating a noose from the end of the cord. When Benoit released the weights — approximately 240 pounds (110 kg), a total weight six pounds greater than that of Benoit's body — the move caused his strangulation. Ballard said the pull-down bar had been removed and Benoit was hanging from a pulley.

Discovery of the bodies

On Monday, June 25, WWE was notified of the text messages sent to Chavo Guerrero and Scott Armstrong. The company asked the Fayette County Sheriff's Department to check on the Benoit family. After discovering the bodies, the police notified WWE around 4:15 p.m., informing them that they had discovered three bodies at the Benoit home and the house was now ruled as a "major crime scene".[8]

Possible motives

WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt appeared on Live with Dan Abrams on July 17, 2007 and said that Benoit was prescribed testosterone as part of a treatment for testosterone replacement therapy, which McDevitt said was a common medical practice for people who had used steroids in the past, and had suffered testicular damage as a result.

Former wrestler Christopher Nowinski stated that Benoit may have been suffering from repeated, untreated concussions throughout his wrestling career, ultimately leading to an unstable mental state. Nowinski was quoted as saying that Benoit "was one of the only guys who would take a chair shot to the back of the head ... which is stupid."[17] Tests were conducted on Benoit's brain by Julian Bailes, the head of neurosurgery at West Virginia University, and results showed that "Benoit's brain was so severely damaged it resembled the brain of an 85-year-old Alzheimer's patient."[18] Tests conducted on Benoit's brain tissue revealed he did in fact suffer from severe chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE),[19] and had brain damage in all four lobes of the brain and brain stem.[20] Bailes and his colleagues concluded that repeated concussions can lead to dementia, which can contribute to severe behavioral problems. Benoit's father suggests that brain damage may have been the leading cause of the double murder-suicide.[21] A statement released by WWE dismissed this idea as "speculative".[22]

Nancy Benoit had filed for divorce in May 2003, allegedly after domestic abuse from Chris, but had withdrawn it in August 2003.[23] In February 2008, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reported that Nancy may have suspected her husband of having an affair with a WWE Diva, and that they may have also argued over a life insurance policy. The AJC claimed the source was a recently released report from the Fayette County Sheriff's Office.[24]

Responses

World Wrestling Entertainment

The event was first reported to fans of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) on their WWE Mobile Alerts Service and posted to their official website soon after. On their website, the company released the following statement:

World Wrestling Entertainment is deeply saddened to report that today Chris Benoit and his family were found dead in their home. There are no further details at this time, other than the Benoit family residence is currently being investigated by local authorities. Tonight’s Raw on USA Network will serve as a tribute to Chris Benoit and his family. WWE extends its sincerest thoughts and prayers to the Benoit family’s relatives and loved ones in this time of tragedy.[25]

WWE canceled the scheduled three-hour-long live Raw show on June 25 (which, ironically, was supposed to be a scripted memorial for the Mr. McMahon character), and replaced the broadcast version with a tribute to his life and career, featuring past matches, segments from the Hard Knocks: The Chris Benoit Story DVD, and comments from wrestlers and announcers. Shortly after the program aired, many of the aired comments were posted on WWE.com. It was not until the program was nearly over that reports surfaced that police were working under the belief that Benoit murdered his wife and son before killing himself.

The next night, after the details of the deaths became concrete, the company aired a recorded statement by its Chairman Vince McMahon before their ECW broadcast:

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Last night on Monday Night Raw, the WWE presented a special tribute show, recognizing the career of Chris Benoit. However, now some 26 hours later, the facts of this horrific tragedy are now apparent. Therefore, other than my comments, there will be no mention of Mr. Benoit's name tonight. On the contrary, tonight's show will be dedicated to everyone who has been affected by this terrible incident. This evening marks the first step of the healing process. Tonight, the WWE performers will do what they do better than anyone else in the world: entertain you.

After learning about the full details of his and his family's deaths, WWE quickly distanced itself from Chris Benoit:

  • With the exception of his results and listings in WWE's title history (though the summaries of his title reigns have been removed), and select press releases from WWE's corporate subsite,[26] the WWE website removed all past mentions of Benoit, including all news articles relating to the specific details of the incident, as well as his biography and the video tribute comments from Benoit's peers.
  • Their merchandising website, wweshop.com, followed suit with regard to all Benoit-related merchandise.
  • All mentions of Benoit have been removed from archived footage broadcast on WWE Classics whenever possible. This policy also originally included footage of Nancy Benoit, although footage of her appearances has since been allowed to air. Matches and other footage involving Benoit have appeared very sparingly on any new DVD releases by WWE.
  • Benoit, along with his "Crippler Crossface" and other signature moves. were removed from the WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2008 video game, after Benoit was originally included in the game as a playable character.[27]
  • Benoit is listed in the WWE Encyclopedia. where his wrestling career up to where he lost the World Heavyweight Championship to Randy Orton is detailed, along with his title history.

Professional wrestling industry

Numerous individuals in professional wrestling, past and present, commented on the deaths and their aftermath:

  • Semi-retired professional wrestler Hulk Hogan commented solely on the personalities of Benoit and his thoughts on the crime, saying: "He was peaceful and kept to himself" and "I think it had to be something personal, a domestic problem between him and his wife."[28]
  • Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) employee and former WWF/E co-worker Kurt Angle chose to comment more on the frenzy created by the crime, stating "This is not WWE’s fault and this is not Vince McMahon’s fault. Chris Benoit was responsible for his own actions."[29]
  • Eric Bischoff, on his website, also commented on the media frenzy, saying: "It's clear that the media wants to blame steroids, professional wrestling, Vince McMahon, or anyone or anything else that further sensationalizes this family tragedy. I refuse to join the choir. I don't have enough information. I wasn't there. I am not a psychiatrist. I just can't imagine how or why this could have happened."[30]

In 2003, Benoit was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame. As a result of the double murder-suicide, his induction underwent a recall election in 2008. Benoit was retained as a member by a narrow margin.

Media

When the news was released about Benoit's death, most mainstream news outlets covered the story, including MSNBC and Fox News Channel.[39][40] Benoit made the cover of People magazine. ECW Press announced on July 16 that noted wrestling writer Irvin Muchnick had written a book on the Benoit case, due out in 2008.[41] At the Comedy Central Roast of Flavor Flav in August 2007, Jimmy Kimmel joked to honoree Flavor Flav that "Chris Benoit is a better father, and better lover, than Flavor Flav", which drew a shocked, appalled response, and laughs from the crowd.[42]

Immediately following the deaths WWE Classics On Demand, WWE's subscription video on demand service, began removing the likeness and mentions of both Chris and Nancy Benoit from archival footage.[43][44] They eventually returned Nancy to programming, but continue to remove Chris from bi-weekly uploaded episodes of WCW Monday Nitro.

Government

With Benoit and his death allegedly linked to steroid abuse, WWE is currently under investigation by the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform regarding their talent wellness policy.[45] As of June 2009, Congress has taken no action against either the WWE or any other professional wrestling company. In January 2009, Henry Waxman, outgoing chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, requested that the Office of National Drug Control Policy chief, John P. Walters, "examine steroid use in professional wrestling and take appropriate steps to address this problem." In the letter, Waxman stated "In the first year of WWE's testing program, which began in March 2006, 40% of wrestlers tested positive for steroids and other drugs, even after being warned in advance that they were going to be tested." He also wrote about how wrestlers who test positive for performance enhancers receive light punishment and afterwards can often participate in wrestling events. The committee investigation also uncovered how easily wrestlers can secure "therapeutic use exemptions" (TUEs, permission to take banned substances for medical reasons) so they can continue performing while using steroids. When Waxman's staff interviewed Dr. Tracy Ray, a physician contracted by WWE, Ray claimed there was "shadiness in almost every [TUE] case that I've reviewed."[46]

Steroids debate

Background

Steroids were found in the home, leading some media organizations to hypothesize that a steroid-induced rage may be the cause of Benoit's actions, as some doctors have linked steroid use to uncontrollable anger, among other psychological issues which include paranoia.[39][47] WWE released a press-statement, challenging the "roid-rage" claims. One part of the statement reads:

The physical findings announced by authorities indicate deliberation, not rage. The wife’s feet and hands were bound and she was asphyxiated, not beaten to death. By the account of the authorities, there were substantial periods of time between the death of the wife and the death of the son, again suggesting deliberate thought, not rage. The presence of a Bible by each is also not an act of rage.[48]

Prosecutors in New York investigated the deliveries Benoit received from Signature Pharmacy and MedXLife.com, which sold steroids and human growth hormone (HGH) over the internet.[49] Terence Kindlon, the lawyer for MedXLife co-owner Dr. Gary Brandwein, denied allegations that his client's company sold steroids to Benoit.[49] Brandwein plead not guilty to six counts in New York state court related to the criminal sale of a controlled substance.[50] According to a report from Sports Illustrated, three packages sent to Benoit were from Signature Pharmacy with the first one sent in December 2005 to San Antonio, Texas. The second package was sent on February 13, 2006 to an address in Peachtree City, Georgia and the third package was sent in July 2006 to Fort Walton Beach, Florida.[51] This followed eleven superstars that were announced in a Sports Illustrated steroids investigation that began March 2007, which included Kurt Angle, Eddie Guerrero, Oscar Gutierrez (Rey Mysterio, Jr.), Randy Orton, Adam Copeland (Edge) and Gregory Helms, with both Copeland and Helms receiving a high amount of steroids.[52]

WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt stated that "they believe the facts of this crime do not support the hypothesis that 'roid rage' played a role in the murders." They cite evidence of premeditation in addition to the lack of a toxicology report, and the fact that the steroids found within Benoit's home were legally prescribed.[48][53] Dr. Gary I. Wadler who currently serves on the World Anti-Doping Agency's Prohibited List and Methods Committee and has served on its Health, Medicine, and Research Committee agreed stating that "that was a premeditated act and that's not rage".[54] Investigators seized both Chris and Nancy's medical records. They also have medical records of Mark Jindrak, Hardcore Holly (Robert Howard), Lex Luger (Lawrence Pfohl), Rey Mysterio, Jr., Buff Bagwell (Marcus Bagwell), and Johnny Grunge (Mike Durham), all of whom were patients of Dr. Phil Astin.[55][56][57] The toxicology report on Chris Benoit's body was released Tuesday, July 17, 2007 at 2:30 p.m. EDT.[13][58]

Toxicology results

At the press conference held by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation at 2:30 p.m. EDT on July 17, 2007, it was announced that three different drugs were found in Nancy Benoit's system: hydrocodone, hydromorphone and Xanax. All three drugs were found to be at levels investigators considered normal for therapeutic treatment (as opposed to recreational use or abuse.) A blood-alcohol level was found at 0.184. Dr. Kris Sperry added it was impossible to say whether any of the blood findings was due to ingestion of alcohol or the post-mortem process. It was also ruled out that Nancy was sedated by Chris before she was murdered.[59]

Xanax was found in Daniel Benoit's system. District Attorney Scott Ballard noted this was not a drug that would be given to a child under normal circumstances. It is believed that Daniel was sedated prior to being murdered, with Dr. Sperry ruling out that Daniel died of a drug overdose.[59] The GBI, however, said in the press conference that it could not perform tests for steroids or human growth hormones on Daniel because of a lack of urine.[60]

Xanax and hydrocodone were also found in Chris Benoit's system, at levels investigators called consistent with therapeutic use. Elevated levels of testosterone cypionate were found in his urine; investigators believed that the level found suggested it had been taken recently. No artificial steroids were found in Chris's urine (with the exception of this testosterone cypionate) nor was there evidence of GHB, contrary to speculation.[59] Benoit also tested negative for blood alcohol.[61][62]

Dr. Astin

Dr. Phil C. Astin III was the personal doctor for Chris Benoit. Attorneys for Dr. Astin had asked a judge to throw out evidence seized during a raid on Astin's office after the death of Benoit and his family. Astin's attorney, Manny Arora claimed that the search exceeded authority granted in a search warrant and that authorities seized patients' records other than Benoit as well as three years of bank records and computers. This comes from Wrestling Observer, a newsletter dedicated to professional wrestling. According to the Associated Press in February 2008, Astin had been charged with overprescribing medication in a case not connected to Benoit.[63] On January 29, 2009, Astin admitted he illegally prescribed drugs, sometimes without even examining the patients first and pleaded guilty to all 175 counts against him. Astin faced a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million on each count. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for illegally prescribing medicine to his patients. [64]

Wikipedia controversy

A statement regarding Nancy Benoit's death was added to the Chris Benoit English Wikipedia article fourteen hours before police discovered the bodies of Benoit and his family. This seemingly prescient addition was initially reported on Wikinews and later on Fox News Channel. The article originally read: "Chris Benoit was replaced by Johnny Nitro for the ECW World Championship match at Vengeance, as Benoit was not there due to personal issues, stemming from the death of his wife Nancy." The phrase "stemming from the death of his wife Nancy" was added at 12:01 a.m. EDT on June 25,[65] whereas the Fayette County police reportedly discovered the bodies of the Benoit family at 2:30 p.m. EDT (14 hours, 29 minutes later). The IP address of the editor was traced to Stamford, Connecticut, which is also the location of WWE headquarters.[66] After news of the early death notice reached mainstream media, the anonymous poster accessed Wikinews to explain his edit as a "huge coincidence and nothing more."[67][68]

Police detectives "seized computer equipment from the [man held] responsible for the postings" and called the posting an unbelievable "hindrance" to their investigation, but believed he was otherwise uninvolved, declining to press charges.[69][70] The man had found several rumors on-line[71] which supported his theory about the Benoit "family emergency" as reported in wrestling news; the IP from which he made the edit in question has been tentatively traced to vandalizing the Wikipedia entries for Ron Artest, Stacy Keibler, and Naugatuck, Connecticut.[72]

Notes

  1. ^ Wrestler Chris Benoit Double Murder-Suicide: Was It 'Roid Rage'?
  2. ^ http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/Story?id=3562665&page=1
  3. ^ http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=3560015&page=1
  4. ^ "Wrestler Chris Benoit Used Steroid Testosterone; Son Sedated Before Murders". Fox News. 2007-07-17. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,289649,00.html. 
  5. ^ http://www.wsbtv.com/news/15281734/detail.html
  6. ^ Blane Bachelor (2007-06-25). "Officials: unknown attacker Strangled Wife, Suffocated Son, did drugs". Fox News Channel. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,286737,00.html. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  7. ^ Keller, Wade (2007-07-18). "Pro Wrestling Torch: Chavo Guerrero interview on Greta van Susteren show". Pro Wrestling Torch. http://pwtorch.com/artman2/publish/WWE_News_3/article_21032.shtml. 
  8. ^ a b "Chris Benoit Timeline". Daily News (New York) (World Wrestling Entertainment). 2007-06-27. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/2007/06/27/2007-06-27_chris_benoit_timeline-2.html. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  9. ^ a b "Police: Benoit killed wife, son, left Bibles by their bodies". The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. 2007-06-25. Archived from the original on 2008-01-12. http://web.archive.org/web/20080112155652/http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/fayette/stories/2007/06/25/0625benoit.html. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  10. ^ Kevin Duffy (2007-06-27). "Atlanta Journal-Constitution (transcribed to WrestlingDotCom)". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Wrestling Dot Com. http://www.wrestlingdotcom.com/almanac/detailed-report-on-the-death-of-the-beniot-family/. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  11. ^ a b David Lohr (June 25, 2007). "Authorities Confirm Chris Benoit Murdered Wife and Son". CrimeLibrary.com. Archived from the original on 2008-04-17. http://web.archive.org/web/20080417023522/http://www.crimelibrary.com/news/original/0607/2701_chris_benoit.html. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
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