Chris Benoit double-murder and suicide
The Chris Benoit double-murder and suicide refers to a three-day period between June 22 and 24, 2007, when Chris Benoit, a 40-year-old veteran professional wrestler employed by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), killed his wife Nancy Benoit and suffocated their 7-year-old son Daniel before hanging himself. Autopsy results showed that Benoit's wife was murdered first as she was bound at the feet and wrists and died of asphyxiation on June 22. Nancy was found wrapped in a towel and with blood under her head, although Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard reported no other signs of a struggle.
|Chris Benoit double-murder and suicide|
Benoit in 2007
|Location||Fayetteville, Georgia, U.S.|
|Date||June 22–24, 2007 (EDT)|
|Target||Nancy Benoit, Daniel Benoit|
|Deaths||3 (including the perpetrator)|
The couple's son, Daniel Christopher Benoit, also died of asphyxia, apparently killed as he lay in bed on the morning of June 23. Then, on the evening of June 24, Benoit died by suicide in his weight room, when he used a weight lifting machine to hang himself. He placed copies of the Bible alongside the bodies of his wife and son, as well as a third Bible on his weight lifting machine. Since Benoit's suicide, numerous explanations for his actions have been proposed, including chronic traumatic encephalopathy, steroid abuse, and a failing marriage. The incident led to numerous media accounts, and a federal investigation into steroid abuse in professional wrestling.
Murders and suicideEdit
On Friday, June 22, Chris Benoit killed his wife Nancy in an upstairs bedroom. Her limbs were bound, and her body was wrapped in a towel. A copy of the Bible was left by her body. Injuries indicated that Benoit had pressed a knee into her back while pulling on a cord around her neck, causing strangulation. Officials said that there were no signs of immediate struggle. Toxicologists found alcohol in her body, but were unable to determine whether it had been present before death or was a decomposition product. Decomposition also made it difficult to estimate pre-death levels of hydrocodone and alprazolam, found in "therapeutic levels" in her body. In any case, her medical examiner saw no evidence that she was sedated, as her son had been when he was killed.
Daniel Christopher Benoit (February 25, 2000 – June 23, 2007) was Chris' third child and second son, having older paternal half-siblings named David and Megan via Chris's first wife, Martina. He was Nancy's only child, as she had no children with her ex-husbands Jim Daus and Kevin Sullivan.
Daniel was suffocated and killed in his bedroom, and a copy of the Bible was left by his body. Daniel had internal injuries to the throat area, showing no bruises. Daniel's exact time of death is unknown. The reports determined Daniel was sedated with Xanax and likely unconscious when he was killed. Daniel's body had also just started to show signs of decomposition but was not as far along as his mother's body.
It was later alleged that Daniel had Fragile X syndrome, and that this was the cause of domestic problems in the Benoit family. It was also suggested that needle marks on Daniel's arms were the result of growth hormones given to him because Benoit and his family considered him undersized due to Fragile X. Benoit's coworker and best 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 having 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." Despite Chris Jericho's initial statements regarding Daniel, he later stated in his 2011 book Undisputed, "It turned out that Daniel didn't have Fragile X, but at the time it made sense because I was grasping at straws."
District Attorney Ballard later released a statement saying that a source with access to Daniel's medical files found no mention of any pre-existing mental or physical ailments. Likewise, Daniel Benoit's teachers reported that he was on par with other students and not about to be held back as previously thought. Speaking publicly for the first time in a major public interview on a Talk is Jericho podcast in 2016, Nancy's sister Sandra Toffoloni, who was intimately related with the Benoit family, unequivocally denied any claims that Daniel had ever had Fragile X or any other such sickness. She also stated that claims of needle track marks on Daniel's arms were "preposterous".
After the murdersEdit
At about 3:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday, June 23, fellow wrestler and close friend Chavo Guerrero received a voicemail message from Benoit's phone stating that he had overslept and missed his flight and would be late for that night's house show in Beaumont, Texas. Guerrero called Benoit back and found that 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 12 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 had not answered 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 from food poisoning." Guerrero then replied with "All right man, if you need to talk, I'm here for you." Benoit ended the conversation by saying "I love you, Chavo." During a 2014 appearance on Chris Jericho's Talk is Jericho podcast, Guerrero said Benoit sounded "off" when he talked to him, especially when he said "I love you". Another co-worker 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 vomiting.
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 also noted that a garage side door had been left open. Guerrero and referee Scott Armstrong were two of the recipients of these texts.
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 vomiting and that he and Nancy were at the hospital with him. He also stated that he would be taking a later flight into Houston where he was scheduled to face CM Punk for the vacant ECW World Heavyweight Championship at Vengeance: Night of Champions. Benoit failed to appear at both the house show event in Beaumont on the night of Saturday June 23, and at the Vengeance: Night of Champions pay-per-view event in Houston on the night of Sunday June 24.
Chris Benoit, according to District Attorney Ballard and the city sheriff, died from suicide by hanging. Benoit used a weight machine cord to hang himself by creating a noose from the end of the cord on a pull-down machine from which the bar had been removed. Benoit released the weights, causing his strangulation. Ballard said Benoit was found hanging from the pulley cable.
On the 2016 Talk is Jericho podcast, Nancy's sister Sandra Toffoloni clarified some details further. She said that over the weekend after the murders, the search history on Benoit's computer showed he had researched "the quickest and easiest way to break a neck". He had then later used a towel around his neck attached to the handle of the machine, which he pulled down using a very heavy weight and let go, breaking his neck instantly.
Discovery of the bodiesEdit
On Monday, June 25, 2007, WWE (specifically John Laurinaitis, the WWE's Senior Vice President of Talent Relations) 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".
A suicide note was not discovered during the initial investigation, but a note was later discovered in another Bible that had been included in Benoit's possessions that were sent to his first wife. According to professional wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer, "There was a note that was found in a Bible by the mother of Chris's two children (Martina Benoit) who lives in Canada. The Bible was mixed in with Chris' personal belongings that were shipped to them." Chris Benoit's father Michael Benoit stated, "He had a hand-written notation in there saying 'I'm preparing to leave this Earth.'"
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". Tests conducted on Benoit's brain by Julian Bailes, the head of neurosurgery at West Virginia University, showed "Benoit's brain was so severely damaged it resembled the brain of an 85-year-old Alzheimer's patient". Other tests conducted on Benoit's brain tissue revealed severe chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and damage to all four lobes of the brain and brain stem. Bailes and his colleagues concluded that repeated concussions can lead to dementia, which can contribute to severe behavioral problems. Benoit's father said that brain damage may have been the leading cause of the double murder-suicide. A statement released by WWE dismissed this idea as "speculative".
Nancy Benoit had filed for divorce in May 2003, allegedly after domestic abuse from Chris, but had withdrawn it in August 2003. In February 2008, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reported that Nancy may have suspected her husband of having an affair with a female WWE wrestler, 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.
Speaking on the matter in his autobiography The Hardcore Truth, Hardcore Holly speculates the main influence in Benoit's actions was alcohol abuse rather than steroids. Holly and Benoit traveled together on the road during their time together in WWE, and Holly did not believe steroids played a factor and that Benoit had tended to drink more than he normally would consume when issues with Nancy arose.
World Wrestling EntertainmentEdit
The deaths were first reported to fans of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) on their WWE Mobile Alerts Service and posted to its official website soon after. On its 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.
WWE canceled the scheduled three-hour-long live Raw show on June 25 (which, coincidentally, was supposed to be a 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 from the Raw, SmackDown!, and ECW brands. 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 some of the details of the deaths became available, the company aired a recorded statement by Vince McMahon before its 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, 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, 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.
- WWE pulled the tribute episode from international markets which aired Raw on a tape delay basis. Several channels announced the episode was being withheld for legal reasons. A substitute Raw, hosted by Todd Grisham from WWE Studios, was created featuring recaps of WWE Championship and World Heavyweight Championship matches which had occurred over the past year.
- Some countries that received WWE programming up to three weeks late had all Chris Benoit matches edited out.
- The merchandising website, WWEShop.com, followed suit with regard to all Benoit-related merchandise removed from the online store.
- WWE Niagara Falls, a WWE operated retail store and attraction in Niagara Falls, Ontario, removed the cement handprints of Benoit following the incident. Any and all merchandise regarding Benoit were removed from the store as well.
- Benoit's name was removed from his previous theme song, "Rabid," on the MP3 release of WWE Anthology.
- 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. However, starting with WWE SmackDown vs Raw 2010, the move was reinstated under "Crossface". The Crossface would later be used by Triple H and Shawn Michaels with some irregularity starting in late 2008.
- 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. They eventually returned Nancy to programming, but continued to remove Chris from bi-weekly uploaded episodes of WCW Monday Nitro.
- Matches and other footage involving Benoit appeared very sparingly on any WWE DVD releases following his death, with all of them being footage involving multiple wrestlers such as a battle royal or a multiple-person tag team match. The WCW WarGames DVD by WWE, which features all of the WarGames matches, does include the 1997 WCW Fall Brawl WarGames match between the nWo versus the Four Horsemen, featuring Benoit (who wasn't involved in the finish of the match), but has commentary about Benoit edited out,[unreliable source] though Benoit is referred to as a "mystery partner".
- Footage of Benoit is available on the WWE Network, though no results are shown when searching his name. There were initially no bookmarks available for matches he participated in, but as of 2017[update], his matches are bookmarked with the name(s) of his opponent(s), but not with his name (e.g. "Hardy Boyz and Chris Jericho in a Six-Man Tag Match"). A parental advisory is shown before a program featuring Benoit begins. The WWE Network shows the June 25, 2007 internationally aired episode of Raw that deals with John Cena's title wins instead of the original Benoit tribute show. The opening promo for the June 26, 2007 ECW show with Vince McMahon, mentioning Chris Benoit, has also been omitted from the broadcast. Additionally, some pay-per-view posters which featured Benoit have been replaced with new artwork on the Network's menu screen.[unreliable source]
- In 2015, Benoit's name was mentioned as part of the WWE Network Monday Night Wars series that looks back at the fall of WCW. This marked the first time Benoit was mentioned by name on new WWE programming since 2007. The segment featured the 2000 invasion angle with Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko and Perry Saturn however when the footage was shown it focused more on the other three and less on Benoit.
- In a 2009 interview with WWE Magazine, Vince McMahon discussed Benoit's legacy saying "it's not right to pretend he didn't exist. It's one thing to include him as part of a historical perspective, which I believe is okay, and it's another thing to promote him, which is not okay. The situation is very similar to that of O.J. Simpson despite his controversy, O.J. was still a part of the NFL scene. You can't deny that he existed."
- 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.
- Promotional materials for the Royal Rumble pay-per-view regularly state that only two wrestlers have ever won the Royal Rumble match from the number one entry. However, only Shawn Michaels is mentioned by name.
- In WWE 2K15, in the 2K Showcase Mode Storyline, "Best Friends, Bitter Enemies," circulating around the rivalry between Triple H and Shawn Michaels from 2002 to 2004, it was mentioned that after their Last Man Standing Match at the 2004 Royal Rumble, both Triple H and Shawn Michaels would compete in a Triple Threat Match at WrestleMania XX which neither of them won, but the third competitor in that match, Benoit, is not mentioned in this case.
- Canadian rock band Our Lady Peace, who had written Benoit's theme song "Whatever" in 2001, were asked if they would ever perform the song again in a 2012 interview. The band responded that they felt they couldn't given the circumstances of Benoit's death. They had not performed the song for several years prior to Benoit's death, however.
Professional wrestling industryEdit
Numerous individuals in professional wrestling, past and present, commented on the deaths and their aftermath:
- Semi-retired professional wrestler and WWE Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan commented on Benoit's personality 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."
- Kurt Angle, then Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) employee and now WWE Hall of Famer 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."
- Eric Bischoff, on his website, discussed 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."
- Other wrestlers also commented, including Lex Luger, Marc Mero, Ted DiBiase, Sr., Bret Hart, Lance Storm, Chyna, Steve Blackman, Rob Van Dam, Ultimate Warrior, Chris Jericho, and William Regal. Vince McMahon and his wife Linda (WWE CEO) were interviewed (separate and jointly) by various news outlets.
- Adam Copeland (Edge) and Chavo Guerrero, Jr. spoke openly on the Monday Night Raw tribute show to Benoit about how his death affected them. Copeland broke down whilst describing how Benoit was one of the three people he was close to in the WWE, and how he took great pride in his wrestling work. Guerrero discussed how Benoit was a very private person yet a close friend to the Guerrero family, and how he was as heartbroken by Benoit's death as he was by his uncle Eddie's 19 months earlier.
- CM Punk, in a 2011 interview with GQ, briefly touched on the subject of the Benoit murder/suicide. He described it as "a pretty... low point in everyone's life. A lot of people don't like to talk about it. It still blows my mind." At the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con International during an interview session with WWE Superstars including Punk, he was asked if WWE was trying to erase Benoit from history. Punk responded that while Benoit is in the history books and that cannot be changed, it does not make any sense for WWE to promote him, due to the horrific nature of the crimes he committed.
- Former WCW and WWF rival Sean Waltman, in a 2014 interview, said of Benoit: "He was a pleasant guy, but always had a darkness about him... a sadness, or something". Waltman added that Benoit had a bleak sense of humor, finding amusement in "things that were a little bit bent."
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. Although over 50% of voters decided to remove Benoit from the Hall, Dave Meltzer (head of the Observer) had set a 60% requirement prior to the election, allowing Benoit to remain in.
When the news was released about Benoit's death, most mainstream news outlets covered the story, including MSNBC and Fox News Channel. Benoit made the cover of People magazine. ECW Press (which has no affiliation with Extreme Championship Wrestling, a promotion for which Benoit once worked) announced on July 16 that noted wrestling writer Irvin Muchnick had written a book on the Benoit case, due out in 2008. 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. The show aired less than two months after the incident, but no reference was made to the taping date of the episode in question.
With Benoit and his death allegedly linked to steroid abuse, WWE went under investigation by the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform regarding their talent wellness policy. Congress did not take action against either the WWE or any other professional wrestling company in the wake of the event. 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."
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy reportsEdit
At the time of the incident, research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), led by forensic neuropathlogist Bennet Omalu, in former players of gridiron football codes was a fast-growing issue in the sport that had been at the forefront following Dr. Omalu's 2002 report on Pro Football Hall of Fame member Mike Webster done after his death. Numerous recently deceased NFL players whose brains were analysed after their deaths in later years agreed with the report on Webster's death, as each player showed the kind of brain damage previously seen in people with Alzheimer's disease or dementia, as well as in some retired boxers. Michael Benoit agreed to have his son's brain analysed by the same neurosurgeons. On September 5, 2007, Julian Bailes, the chief of neurosurgery at West Virginia University, conducted a news conference in New York City to announce the results of Benoit's postmortem brain examination.
"When the (Sports Legacy Institute) approached Michael Benoit about testing Chris’ brain as part of the Sports Legacy Project, our goal was to determine if there was evidence of CTE caused by repeated trauma to the head sustained during Chris Benoit’s career. We have now confirmed multiple concussions are part of his medical history, along with clinical symptoms associated with CTE. Because my SLI colleagues and I have found evidence of CTE in the brains of four former professional football players, we felt an examination of Chris Benoit’s brain may bring awareness to CTE’s existence outside of boxers and football players. The findings of CTE in Chris Benoit suggest that there may be a common syndrome among athletes who suffer multiple head injuries in contact sports."
In December 2009, nearly 30 months after Benoit's death, Dr. Omalu confirmed to ESPN's "Outside the Lines" that the death of a second WWE wrestler, Andrew Martin, known in WWE by his ring name Test, was attributed to CTE. Bailes told ESPN, "When we announced our findings about Chris, some in the media said it was 'roid rage. We said at the time the real finding was that repeated head trauma was the cause. With Andrew Martin as the second case, the WWE and the sport in general have to ask themselves, 'Is this a trend?' The science tells us that jumping off 10-foot ladders and slamming people with tables and chairs is simply bad for the brain."
WWE noted the research was new at the time, but released the following statement to ESPN for "Outside the Lines":
While this is a new emerging science, the WWE is unaware of the veracity of any of these tests, be it for Chris Benoit or Andrew Martin. Dr. Omalu claims that Mr. Benoit had a brain that resembled an 85-year-old with Alzheimer's, which would lead one to ponder how Mr. Benoit would have found his way to an airport, let alone been able to remember all the moves and information that is required to perform in the ring.
In the decade that followed after the broadcast, postmortem brain research on numerous deceased wrestlers diagnosed findings consistent with CTE. Wrestlers diagnosed with CTE in postmortem research include Axl Rotten, Balls Mahoney, Jimmy Snuka, Mr. Fuji, and Ron Bass.
As of September 2018[update], over 60 professional wrestlers and representatives of deceased wrestlers are in litigation against WWE in an attempt to hold the organisation accountable for their "long-term neurological injuries" as a result of multiple concussions and CTE. They are represented by Konstantine Kyros of Kyros Law Firm, PC, who previously represented former NFL players in a CTE-related lawsuit. The case was initially dismissed, but Kyros is appealing.
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. 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.
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. Terence Kindlon, the lawyer for MedXLife co-owner Gary Brandwein, denied allegations that his client's company sold steroids to Benoit. Brandwein pleaded not guilty to six counts in New York state court related to the criminal sale of a controlled substance. 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. This followed eleven wrestlers that were announced in a Sports Illustrated steroids investigation that began March 2007, which included Kurt Angle, Eddie Guerrero, Oscar Gutierrez (Rey Mysterio, Jr.), Adam Copeland (Edge) and Gregory Helms, with Copeland receiving a high amount of steroids.
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. Gary I. Wadler, who served on the World Anti-Doping Agency's Prohibited List and Methods Committee, and its Health, Medicine, and Research Committee agreed stating that "that was a premeditated act and that's not rage". 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 Phil Astin.
At the press conference held by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation 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 to be 0.184. Kris Sperry, the medical examiner, 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.
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 Sperry ruling out that Daniel died of a drug overdose. 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.
Xanax and hydrocodone were also found in Chris Benoit's system, at levels investigators called consistent with therapeutic use. Elevated levels of the synthetic anabolic steroid testosterone cypionate were found in his urine; investigators believed that the level found suggested it had been taken recently. While the synthetic anabolic steroid testosterone cypionate was found in his urine, there was no evidence of GHB contrary to speculation. Benoit also tested negative for blood alcohol.
Drug charges against Benoit's doctorEdit
Phil C. Astin III was the personal doctor for Chris Benoit. His attorney, Manny Aurora, asked a judge to throw out evidence seized during a raid on Astin's office after Benoit and his family died. He claimed the search exceeded authority granted in a search warrant and that police seized other patients' records and three years of bank records and computers. According to the Associated Press in February 2008, Astin was charged with overprescribing medication in a case not connected to Benoit. On January 29, 2009, he admitted he illegally prescribed drugs, sometimes without examining the patients first, and pleaded guilty to all 175 counts against him. He was sentenced to ten years in prison.
|Wikinews has related news:|
A statement regarding Nancy Benoit's death was added to the Chris Benoit English Wikipedia article 14 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. 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, 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. 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."
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. The man had found several rumors on-line, which supported his theory about the Benoit "family emergency" as reported in wrestling news. The IP from which he made the edit was tentatively traced to vandalizing the Wikipedia entries for African wild ass, The Bronx, The Sopranos, Ron Artest, Stacy Keibler, and Naugatuck, Connecticut. He also reverted vandalism to Chavo Guerrero Jr. and recorded a loss for the Golden State Warriors.
Aftermath and legacyEdit
In the years following the double-murder and suicide, it continued to be referred to in the media. The murders led to many fans and critics of WWE believing them to be the cause that led WWE to change their programming. A few months after the double-murder and suicide, it was speculated that chair shots to the head were banned in WWE, along with a toning down of coarse language. The Great American Bash pay-per-view on July 20, 2008, was the last WWE pay-per-view with a TV-14 rating, with WWE then immediately switching the rating of their shows to their current TV-PG rating in the following days, which resulted in a noticeable toning down of edgy content in WWE shows. Within a few months of the TV-PG rating coming in, blood was also banned in WWE, which returned WWE's product to its pre-1997 rule on prohibiting deliberate blading in matches, which had existed before the famous Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin submission match at WrestleMania 13.
There have been discussions on whether Benoit would ever be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Steve Austin commented on Benoit, believing that while he was an important aspect of the business, he would never be inducted into the Hall of Fame due to his actions.[unreliable source] Chris Jericho also stated that Benoit should never be in the Hall of Fame.
- On July 26–27, 2012, the rap group Insane Clown Posse released a music video for the song called "Chris Benoit". The song and video, however, are not about Benoit himself, but a man's breakdown that's similar to Benoit's. The song and music video, however, does include stock footage and a recording of Chris Benoit before his death. A remix with rappers Ice Cube and Scarface was later released.
- On December 1, 2012, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher murdered his girlfriend, then took his own life at the Chiefs training facility near Arrowhead Stadium. The circumstances surrounding that murder-suicide drew some comparisons to the Benoit situation.
- In March 2013, Murder's Magazine produced a front page/article on the Chris Benoit incident launching further questions.
- In a July 2013 interview, Nancy Benoit's sister Sandra Toffoloni said she believes a blackout caused him to murder her sister. She stated that the medical examiner who examined Benoit's body stated he had only ten more months to live due to an enlarged heart. Sandra Toffoloni also stated that Benoit was contemplating retirement and opening a wrestling school but he decided to continue due to being in one of the main events at Vengeance for the ECW Championship.
- A biopic titled Crossface is being developed, which will be based on Matthew Randazzo's book Ring of Hell: The Story of Chris Benoit and the Fall of the Pro Wrestling Industry. It shows Benoit from his early days being trained by the Hart family, to his rise with ECW, WCW and WWE, to the deaths of his wife, son and his own suicide. The movie was originally announced in 2011 with plans to begin filming in 2012; however, they were delayed.
- In light of further reports on CTE where numerous WWE wrestlers were diagnosed post-mortem with CTE, litigation has been filed by various wrestlers.
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A sheriff's official previously said that [Phil] Astin is also being investigated in the February 2006 death of another wrestler, Michael Durham.
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