June 26, 2007
Pro-Wrestler Chris Benoit Found Dead in Apparent Murder-Suicide
By Pamela Mortimer
Chris Benoit, the pro-wrestler known as “The Crippler” was found dead in his Atlanta home on Monday, as part of an apparent murder-suicide.
Pro-Wrestler Chris Benoit is reported to have strangled his wife and smothered their 7-year old son over the weekend before hanging himself on Monday. Benoit was discovered in his weight room, while his wife was found in an office, and their son was upstairs in his bedroom. There will be an inquiry to determine if steroids or other substances may have been a factor in the deaths.
Officials declined to comment whether drugs or steroids were found at the Benoit home. "We're not releasing any information as far as what was located inside the house," said Sheriff's Sgt. Keith Whiteside in a statement on Tuesday.
Regarding the state of the inside of the house, Whiteside said law enforcement found "nothing really out of the ordinary".
Autopsies have been scheduled for Tuesday by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation but toxicology results may take weeks or even months to be returned. Fayette County Coroner C.J. Mowell was not available for comment.
Born in Montreal, Benoit, was a former World Heavyweight Champion and Intercontinental Champion. Benoit held several titles over his career but reached the pinnacle when he competed in 2004’s Wrestlemania 20 at Madison Square Garden, defeating Shawn Michaels and current Champion Triple H in a triple threat match. Benoit was the victor and claimed the WWE world heavyweight championship for the first time.
A standout contender since his early years, Benoit trained in a “dungeon basement” alongside fellow Canadians wrestlers Owen and Bret Hart. Owen Hart died during a wrestling event in 1999.
Bret Hart, a five-time champion with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), said, "He was like a family member to me, and everyone in my family is taking it real hard."
Benoit met his wife, Nancy, when he created a script that had them involved in a relationship as part of a World Championship Wrestling storyline. Nancy Benoit was a manager for several wrestlers and was known by the stage name "Woman."
Along with their 7-year old son, Daniel, Benoit had two other children from a previous relationship.
In honor of “The Crippler, the WWF, now known as World Wresting Entertainment, canceled its popular TV show, <i>Monday Night RAW</i>, replacing it with a three-hour tribute to Benoit.
Vince McMahon, WWE chairman, started the tribute by standing in the middle of an empty ring. As he broke the news of Benoit’s death, his voice broke and his eyes filled with tears.
“We at the WWE can only offer our condolences to the extended family of Chris Benoit,” McMahon said. “The only other thing we can do at this moment is pay tribute to Chris Benoit.”
Neighbors described the Benoits as leading a “low-key” lifestyle.
Lorre Jones, who lives across the street from the Beniots’ Atlanta home said, "They were nice.”
“We would see Chris walking in his yard from time to time. He wasn't rude, but he wasn't really outwardly warm," said Jones’ daughter Alaina.
Benoit's long-time driver, Jimmy Baswell, went to the home on Tuesday to place a white wreath at the Benoits' gate.
"I saw him with his family all the time," Baswell said. "They always seemed like they were the happiest people."
Benoit was scheduled to perform at the pay-per-view event titled “Vengeance” on Sunday night but was replaced at the last minute due to “personal reasons.”
Friends of Benoit alerted the WWE after they received "several curious text messages sent by Benoit early Sunday morning". In turn, the WWE quickly notified the authorities who made the grisly discovery. No funeral arrangements have been announced.