Chris Benoit was considered among one of the best wrestlers until the double murder-suicide case The Canadian professional wrestler killed his wife, Nancy Benoit, and suffocated his 7-year-old son, Daniel, before hanging himself.
Life of Chris Benoit
During his 22 year career, Benoit worked for numerous promotions including World Wrestling Federation/ World Wrestling Entertainment(WWF/WWE), WCW, ECW, and NJPW(New Japan Pro-Wrestling). Dave Meltzer, a journalist from the industry considered him “one of the top 10, maybe even the top 5, all-time greats.”
Chris Benoit was only the second man to win a Royal Rumble as the number one entrant. He also headlined in multiple pay-per-views for WWE, which also included his victory in the World Heavyweight Championship main event match of WrestleMania XX in 2004.
Everything was going his way until he committed the double-murder suicide.
Who was Nancy Benoit?
Nancy Benoit was an American professional wrestling valet, occasional professional wrestler, and a model. Before her marriage with Chris Benoit, she gave birth to the couple’s son. Daniel Christopher Benoit on February 25, 2000. The couple got married on November 23, 2000.
Nancy filed for divorce in May 2003, she cited that their marriage was “irrevocable broken” and alleged “cruel treatment.” Nacy dropped the suit in August 2003 as well as restraining order fled on her husband. Before her marriage to Chris Benoit, Nancy had been married to Kevin Sullivan and Jim Daus but both marriages ended in divorce.
The Murder of Nancy Benoit
On Friday, June 22, 2007, Chris Benoit killed his wife Nancy Benoit in an upstairs room. Her body was found wrapped in a towel, and her limbs were bound, near her body, a copy of the bible was also found.
No one was aware of the death of Nancy Benoit until 3 days later, on June 25, 2007, when police entered Chris’s home in Georgia after Chris’ employers requested a “welfare check” as he missed weekend events without notice.
The injuries on Nancy’s body indicated that Chris Benoit had pressed a knee into her back while pulling a cord around her neck, but officials said that there were no signs of strangulation, they found alcohol in her body but it was not sure whether it had been present in her body or it was a decomposition product. Despite several claims, the medical examiner saw no evidence that she was sedated at the time of her death.
Who was Daniel Benoit?
Daniel Christopher Benoit’s body was found by the officials on June 25, along with the body of his parents. Daniel was Chris’ third child and first child of Nancy Benoit. It was believed that Daniel had Fragile X syndrome and that this was the cause of domestic problems in the Benoit family.
It was also suggested that there were needle marks on Daniel’s arms which were the result of growth hormones given to him because his family considered him undersized due to Fragile X. But there were no pre-existing mental or physical ailments in the medical files released by District Attorney Ballard.
Chris Jericho, Benoit’s coworker, and a best friend stated that from his own research on the condition, the symptoms “fit Daniel to a tee, all across the board.” He also said that “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.”
While he made statements about Daniel having Fragile X, Jericho 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.”
The Murder Of Daniel Benoit
Daniel was suffocated and killed in his bedroom and a copy of the Bible was left by his body. His exact time of death is unknown but he had internal injuries to the throat area, showing no bruises.
Reports determined that Daniel was sedated with Xanax and likely unconscious when he was killed. His body started to show signs of decomposition but was not as far along his mother’s body.
What Happened After The Murders?
Chavo Guerrero received a voicemail message from Benoit on June 23, about 3:30, stating that he had overslept and missed his flight and would be later for that night’s hour show in Beaumont, Texas.
Chavo called him back and found out that Chris sounded tired and groggy as he confirmed everything he had said in his voice message. Chavo was concerned about his friend’s tone and demeanor, so he called him back in 12 minutes but Chris did not answer, so he left a voicemail message asking him to call back.
Benoit called him after 2 minutes and stated that he had not answered the call because he was busy on phone with Delta Air Lines, as he was changing his flight. He then stated that he had a stressful day because “Nancy and Daniel being sick from food poisoning,” Chavo replied with “all right man, if you need to talk, I’m here for you.” Benoit ended the call by saying “Chavo, I love you.”
On the next day, June 24, Chris sent five text messages to co-workers using his and Nancy’s phone. Four of the texts were the Benoits’ address and the fifth one said that the family dogs were in the enclosed area and the garage side door has been left open.
In the morning he called WWE’s talent relations office stating that his son was vomiting and he and Nancy were at the hospitals with him. He also stated that he would join in later to Houston where he was scheduled to face CM Punk for the vacant ECW World Heavyweight Championship. Benoit failed to appear for the pay-per-view of the event in Houston on the night of Sunday, June 24.
The Death Of Chris Benoit
Chris Benoit was found hanging from the pulley cable. 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, he then released the weight, which resulted in his death.
Benoit computer history showed that he had researched for “the quickest and easiest way to break a neck,” Nancy’s sister Sandra Toffoloni clarified the details in 2016 Talk is Jericho episode. Benoit then later used a towel around his neck attached to the handle of the machine.
Discovering the bodies
After the officials did not hear from Chris Benoit in over 24 hours, Chavo Guerrero showed them the texts he got from Chris and Nancy’s phone. The officials then contacted the police to do a welfare check at the Benoit household.
Police discovered three bodies in their home in suburban Atlanta at around 2:30 p.m. The official informed WWE that Benoit home was now ruled as a major crime scene.
Although there was no suicide note at the beginning of the investigation, a note was later discovered in a Bible that Benoit sent to his first wife, along with the note it contained some of Benoit’s possessions. Chris’s father Michael Benoit stated that “He had a hand-written notation in there saying I’m preparing to leave this earth.”
Why Did Chris Benoit Kill His Wife and Son?
Ever since the death was first reported to fans of WWE on their WWE mobile alert service there are many theories to what caused Chris Benoit to kill his family and hang himself.
1. Alcohol: Hardcore Holly spoke about the matter in his own autobiography, The Hardcore Truth, Holly speculated that alcohol played a bigger role than steroids.
Holly traveled a lot with Benoit said that Benoit always drank more when he was having domestic issues with Nancy, police also found multiple half-drunk wine bottles. Holly said: “I don’t know what happened, I just honestly couldn’t tell you what happened. Chris was one of the kindest, politest people. I never saw the guy get mad, not one single time. He didn’t get upset about anything.”
2. Steroids: Benoit has taken steroids in his entire career but it wasn’t until Eddie Guerrero’s death in 2005 that WWE really got strict with their drug testing. Police found texts between Benoit and his wife where Nancy complained about having to tolerate his roid rage.
Jericho said Benoit had to have stopped taking steroids by then as after Eddie died WWE’s drug testing was super strict and you couldn’t even take a high-powered aspiring unless you had a prescription. Nancy thought the Wellness program was ‘joke’ Despite having nearly 10 times the amount of testosterone, Benoit cleared all the tests leading up to the murders.
3. WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt told that Benoit was prescribed testosterone as part of a treatment replacement therapy, which McDevitt said was a common medical practice who had used steroids in the past and had suffered testicular damage as well.
4. Julian Bailes, the head of neurology, studied Benoit’s brain stated that Benoit may have been suffering from repeated, untreated concussions throughout his career, which ultimately led to an unstable mental state.
The former Champion was quoted saying that Beniot “was one of the only guys who would take a chair shot to the back of the head… which is stupid.”
Test results showed that Benoit’s brain was so severely damaged that it resembled the brain of an 85-year-old Alzheimer’s patient, other tests conducted on Benoit’s brain tissues revealed severe damage to all four lobes of the brain and brain stem. Benoit’s father believed that Brian’s damage may have been the leading cause of the double murder-suicide.
5. Eddie Guerrero’s Death? : According to the documentary, Dark Side of the Ring Documentary, Eddie’s death hit Benoit hard and it seems to have been the beginning of the end for Benoit. Eddie was Benoit’s best friend and also his road partner, but when Eddie suddenly died at the age of 38, Benoit was devastated.
Triple-Murder or Double-Murder Suicide? Some of the fans believe that it was a triple murder made to look like a murder-suicide. The reason they believe so is that Benoit had consumed as many as ten beers and a bottle of wine before hanging himself. They are finding it hard to believe that someone with that Alcohol in their system can do such a task.
Chris Benoit’s Son Still Says His Dad Is A Hero
David Benoit, Benoit’s son, from his previous marriage still refers to him as ‘my hero’ and wants to wrestle under the name Chris Benoit Jr one day. David opened about the incident on Youtube to Chris Van Vliet:
“That wasn’t him man. He would never do that. I know he wouldn’t, I think something went terribly wrong. The doctor said he had CTE. At the beginning that somewhat gave me closure. He Had CTE so I don’t think that was him.”
David was 21 when he tried to make his in-ring-debut at a Hart Family Legacy event in Calgary. David was close with many members of the hart family as his father had trained in the legendary “Dungeon” run by Stu Hart. But Chris Jericho stopped him from wrestling as he hadn’t actually had any formal wrestling training.
After the murders there were discussions about inducting Chris Benoit in Hall of Fame, Steve Austin predicted that Chris Benoit was important to the business but will never be inducted in Hall of Fame due to his actions. Jericho also stated that Benoit should never be inducted into Hall of Fame.
The incident brought many changes to the WWE industry, WWE immediately adopted their current TV-PF, which resulted in a noticeable toning down of edgy content in shows. Within a few months, blood was also banned, which returned WWE’s product to its pre-1997 rule on prohibiting deliberate blading in matches.