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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Chris Benoit - Wrestler strangled wife, smothered son

Police: Wrestler strangled wife, smothered son

By Alfonso A. Castillo
Posted June 26 2007, 4:01 PM EDT

Shocking details continue to come out about the apparent double murder-suicide of professional wrestling star Chris Benoit, his wife Nancy, and 7-year-old son Daniel.

Lt. Tommy Pope of the Fayette County, Ga. sheriff's office, said in news conference earlier Tuesday that authorities believe Benoit asphyxiated his wife on Friday evening at their home in suburban Atlanta, then similarly killed his son sometime Saturday before hanging himself Saturday night. Authorities previously told the Associated Press that Benoit strangled his wife Saturday and smothered his son Sunday, before killing himself Monday.

Pope said anabolic steroids were found in Benoit's home, although authorities believe he had a valid prescription. They also said that bibles were found beside the bodies of both Benoit's wife and son.

Nancy Benoit was found in an upstairs family room with her wrists and feet bound, wrapped in a towel and with blood below her head, said Scott Ballard, district attorney for the Griffin Judicial Circuit, which includes Fayette County. Daniel Benoit was found in his upstairs bedroom. Benoit hanged himself using the cord from a weightlifting machine in a basement weight room, Ballard said. No suicide note was found.

The findings of a toxicology report are not expected for several weeks.

Benoit, 40, was discovered dead in his home by Fayetville police Monday after he failed to show up at two scheduled matches in Texas over the weekend, including at World Wrestling Entertainment's Vengeance pay-per-view event in Houston Sunday night. He cited a family emergency as the reason for skipping the shows.

After friends in WWE received several "curious text messages" from Benoit, and WWE officials were unable to reach him, the sheriff's department in Peachtree City, Ga. went to Benoit's home to check on his family about 2:30 p.m.

After maneuvering through two German shepherds that guarded the home, police found Benoit, his wife and child dead in three separate rooms in the home, according to WAGA-TV. The Wrestling Observer newsletter reported that Fayette County police are operating under the theory that Benoit killed his wife on Saturday, son Daniel on Sunday, and then killed himself Monday at his home – a mansion surrounded by stone walls with a gravel road leading to double iron gates.

Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the details of the incident may "prove a little bizarre" when they come out.

WWE scrapped its scheduled live, sold-out Monday Night RAW program in Corpus Christy Monday night and sent fans home. In the show's place, WWE chairman Vince McMahon and the WWE announcing team introduced a three-hour career retrospective that included several highlights from Benoit's 22-year career, as well as emotional testimonials from fellow pro wrestlers.

McMahon reportedly broke the news around 4:30 p.m. Monday to a locker room overcome with shock and grief. As news of authorities' suspicion that Benoit killed his wife and son came out, WWE scaled back their tribute to the former world champion on the WWE Web site. The company is scheduled to hold its regular television tapings Tuesday night.

Benoit, a native of Edmonton, Canada, trained in Calgary and made his pro debut in 1985. He plied his trade in Japan for years before become a fixture on the American wrestling circuit in the mid-1990s. He joined WWE in 1999 and won the company's world heavyweight championship at Madison Square Garden at WrestleMania XX in 2004. He was widely expected to win the Extreme Championship Wrestling world title at Sunday's pay-per-view event.

Benoit became romantically involved with the then Nancy Sullivan, who worked as a pro wresting valet under the name "Woman," in the mid-1990s while she was married to another wrestler, Kevin Sullivan. The Pro Wrestling Torch newsletter said the marriage was known among wrestling circles to be volatile.

Benoit had two children from another relationship that were not in the home during the deaths.

Staff Writer Alex Marvez will be discussing the Benoit situation on Fox news at 7 p.m. Tuesday and at 8:05 a.m. on WQAM (560-AM) and 8:20 a.m. on WIOD (610-AM) on Wednesday.

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