DA: Wrestler killed wife, 7-year-old son

Tue, 06/26/2007 - 2:45pm
By: John Munford
Wrestler’s wife filed for divorce in 2003, but dropped petition months later Famous professional wrestler Chris Benoit strangled his wife and smothered his 7-year-old son over the weekend at a plush rural home near Peachtree City and then hanged himself Monday in the weight room at the home, according to multiple reports.

“I would not deny that,” said the lead investigator on the case, Lt. Tommy Pope of the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department in a Tuesday interview.

Authorities also were looking into whether steroid body-building drugs played a role in the double murders and suicide.

Two days before Benoit, his wife and child were found dead in their central Fayette home, one of his co-workers spoke with him on the phone, responding to a text message Benoit had sent, police said.

“That was the last time anybody had contact with him,” said Lt. Pope.

Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard said the evidence at the family’s home at 130 Green Meadow Lane showed that Benoit killed his wife Nancy and their 7-year-old son Daniel there. Ballard declined to say how they died, but he confirmed they were not shot.

“Every indication is that this is a murder-suicide,” Ballard said.

Reports on other media outlets say the wife was strangled on Saturday, the son was smothered on Sunday and Benoit hanged himself on Monday.

Autopsies were being conducted Tuesday morning, Pope said. Deputies are hoping the autopsies will provide at least a preliminary cause and time of death to determine in what order the family died, Pope said.

Court records from May 2003 indicated there was at least some martial strife during the Benoit’s relationship, as Nancy Benoit filed for divorce from Chris Benoit, alleging that he threatened to hit her. She dropped the petition months later, according to court records.

The family was found dead Monday afternoon after deputies were called to the scene by Benoit’s employer, who became concerned he had missed two scheduled events in Texas on Saturday and Sunday, Pope said.

When deputies got to the Benoit home, they had to enlist a neighbor to handle two dogs on the premises that were put in a kennel so deputies could enter the home, Pope said. The neighbor who helped had routinely taken care of the dogs while the Benoit family was out of town, Pope said.

When deputies arrived, they smelled the odor of decaying bodies, Ballard said.

The three bodies were found in different rooms of the house, Pope confirmed. He declined to provide further details on where and how the bodies were found.

“The case is being investigated as a double homicide and suicide,” Pope said.

Pope also declined to discuss the contents of the text message that led to Benoit’s last phone conversation, but he said detectives were executing a subpoena to confirm it.

It could take at least a week, if not more, for the toxicology reports to come back in the case, Pope said.

In May 2003, Chris and Nancy Benoit were separated as she filed for divorce in Fayette County Superior Court, according to court documents. In the divorce petition Nancy Benoit alleged that she was treated with cruelty by her husband; at the time the family lived in Peachtree City.

In a petition for a temporary protective order that was granted to Nancy Benoit, she claimed her husband “lost his temper” and threatened to hit her on April 26-27, also damaging their home and some furnishings.

Nancy Benoit dropped the divorce petition and protective order in August, according to court records.

In her divorce petition, Nancy Benoit claimed that her husband earned in excess of $500,000 a year and that the earnings were deposited in a corporation that she and her husband were officers of. In a response, Chris Benoit denied that allegation in a separate court filing.

The apparent double murder and suicide case has garnered a significant amount of media attention, not just in the United States but also from international news agencies, Pope said. Benoit was a popular wrestler with WWE, and was at one time world heavyweight champion, world tag team champion and intercontinental champion.

Heavy online traffic Monday evening and Tuesday slowed The Citizen’s website to a crawl.

-------------- Neighbors stricken by murders

By BEN NELMS bnelms@TheCitizen.com

“You never think something like this is going to happen in Fayette County.”

That’s a neighbor’s view after a double murder and suicide across the road at the home of Chris Benoit on Green Meadow Lane in the pastoral setting of rural Fayette County was revealed Monday.

Benoit, his wife Nancy and their 7-year-old son Daniel were found dead inside the family’s upscale home in what authorities are calling a double murder and suicide.

Lorre Jones and her family have lived across the street from the Benoit residence for five years. Jones late Tuesday morning described the events she had witnessed during the past 24 hours and spoke about her neighbors who had moved in a year earlier, neighbors she rarely ever saw.

Jones said she arrived home Monday at 4:30 p.m. to find cars at the Benoit residence as she approached her home. That was unusual, Jones said, because “you never see any other cars there. They have a Hummer or two. You’d see them driving back and forth and that’s all we’d ever see. I thought they were having a party until I got closer and saw the crime scene tape.”

At first Jones did not know what had happened. She thought perhaps a burglary or some other crime had occurred. That thought evaporated after hearing from nearby neighbors what was believed to have happened.

Though she was clear that she could not confirm the statements, Jones had been told that the Benoit’s next-door neighbor had found the family dead inside the home after going next door to assist police by corralling the family’s two German shepherd guard dogs.

“We started hearing that a neighbor lady had been contacted by the police and had gone over to help get the dogs. She didn’t want the dogs to hurt the policemen so she went over the get the dogs, and, apparently, must have had a key to go inside,” Jones said. “That’s how we heard she found the bodies.”

Contacted at her home, the next-door neighbor politely said she would not make any comments.

Jones said the Benoit family had lived across the street for approximately a year. By all counts, they were a family that kept to themselves, with groundskeepers being the only people making infrequent trips to the residence. The last time Jones saw any of the family was a few days ago.

“We really hardly ever saw them. I’d see her walking up and down the road occasionally,” Jones explained. “When they first got their German shepherd she used to walk them more. The other day when I was coming out of my driveway and she was walking past, we waved. Sometimes their little boy would play up close to the road where we would see him. We really hardly ever saw them except in passing. We had minimal contact with them. And we never saw a lot of cars here except the people who did yard work.”

The initial concern over what might have been another type of crime so close to her home quickly gave way to another realization. Thefts and burglaries are bad enough, Jones said, but this was different.

“You never think something like this is going to happen in Fayette County,” she said.

-------------- Benoit a legend in the wrestling world

By MICHAEL BOYLAN mboylan@TheCitizen.com

Chris Benoit had been involved with wrestling since his early days growing up in Canada.

He has wrestled with New Japan Pro Wrestling, Extreme Championship Wrestling, World Championship Wrestling and World Wrestling Entertainment and was enormously popular with fans around the world.

Known in the wrestling community as a consummate professional, Benoit — as both the “Rabid Wolverine” and “The Crippler” — either teamed up with or wrestled against some of the biggest names in wrestling over his career.

Numerous people in the area encountered Benoit at the World Gym on Ga. Highway 74 in Peachtree City.

“He was — maybe the wrong thing to say now — a nice guy. He would take the time to talk with fans at the gym,” said Michael Thompson. “He would spend three to four hours working out, doing intense lifting and cardiovascular sessions. For a guy who ruptured a disk that fragmented into his spinal column four years ago, it was amazing to see how he pushed and punished his body everyday.”

After studying under the legendary Hart family and competing in Canadian Stampede wrestling, his early career sent him to wrestle in Japan, where he won a junior heavyweight championship in 1990.

Benoit went from a brief stint in the WCW in 1992-1993 to the ECW in 1994 where he won a Tag Team Championship in 1995. Late in 1995, Benoit moved to the WCW and soon joined The Four Horsemen with wrestlers Ric Flar, Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman.

In 1999, teamed with Dean Malenko, Benoit won the WCW World Tag Team Championship. It was the same year that he won the WCW United States Championship. He left the WCW in 2000 and joined the World Wrestling Federation, soon to be known as World Wrestling Entertainment.

Benoit was known for his high-flying moves combined with an appreciation and understanding of the technical aspects of wrestling.

Benoit won his first title, the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania 2000. He would win the same title three times between April 2000-January 2001. In 2001, teaming up with former rival Chris Jericho, Benoit defeated WWF Tag Team Champions Stone Cold Steve Austin and Triple H for their titles.

He sat out for most of 2002 due to a neck injury, but returned to win a WWE Tag Team Championship with Kurt Angle, a foe that Benoit would face, and lose to, for the WWE Championship in 2003.

The neck injury was one of many for Benoit, who had also had a number of concussions during his career, in addition to the minor injuries that occur during a schedule that has wrestlers on the road for over 280 days a year.

Benoit kicked off 2004 by winning the 2004 Royal Rumble and his popularity was at its peak. In March of that year, Benoit won the World Heavyweight Championship by using his signature submission move, the Crippler Crossface. He retained his title later that year and then won the World Tag Team Title with his partner, Edge.

In 2005, Benoit won the WWE United States Championship over Orlando Jordan. Titles and feuds continued over the next two years for Benoit, who wrestled his final match on June 19, 2007.

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howdoyoulikemenow's picture
Submitted by howdoyoulikemenow on Tue, 06/26/2007 - 6:03pm.

I think that it is really sad that you are all bickering about "What good he has done in his life" and making presumptions about ""who killed who, and Bibles being placed next to the bodies, and what the newsreporters were doing when on air and what Lt. Tommy Pope was wearing and so on. How FREAKING PETTY OF YOU ALL!
There was obviously a mental sickness or drug induced person living in this home and one of the victims was a POOR, HELPLESS, CHILD! I don't give a rat's butt if the man did it or the woman did it, and I don't care about what good he/she may have done in their lifetime. Someone in that home was either mentally ill or a drug addict and the 2 innocent vicitim's paid for it dearly, WITH THEIR LIVES! I am sorry for the remaining family left here to deal with the aftermath. I hope that they find out the truth, which will be hard I'm sure to handle and hope that in the future they find peace within themselves. You should all be ashmed of yourselves for bickering over all of this and instead be mournful for the poor child in this matter.

nuk's picture
Submitted by nuk on Tue, 06/26/2007 - 2:46pm.

Press conference right now.

Both victims had Bibles placed by their bodies.

Nancy Benoit had her hands and wrists bound and some visible blood. Strangled with an electrical cord. Son suffocated in his bedroom the next day. Chris Benoit hanged himself with cables from a weight machine several hours after killing his son. That was the part that Ballard mentioned as being "bizarre" in that Benoit waited several hours aferwards before killing himself.


Basmati's picture
Submitted by Basmati on Tue, 06/26/2007 - 2:43pm.

I just watched the streaming webcast of the Fayette sheriff's dept press conference. Some notes:
1. Lots of goofing off by news types until right before it started. One woman insisted on rearranging the crime scene tape.
2. Lt Tommy Pope looked fabulous in his light pumpkin shirt and burnt sienna tie. Tres Metrosexual!
3. Scott Ballard asked what was so "bizarre" as he had claimed the night before? "Well, any murder 'round here is bizarre!"
4. Benoit put a Bible next to his wife and one next to his kid after he killed them.
5. They found steroids in his home. I am shocked...shocked!
6. Killed his wife on Friday, his kid Sat morning and himself on Sunday.
7. Scott Ballard needs a tie tack...his polyster tie was flappin' in the breeze.
8. They found a treasure trove of legal prescription drugs at the house.
9. Benoit had a DUI arrest within the city limits of a city in Fayette county a couple of years back. It was not in unincorporated Fayette. I think this is accurate, English doesn't appear to be Scott Ballard's first language.

howdoyoulikemenow's picture
Submitted by howdoyoulikemenow on Tue, 06/26/2007 - 5:50pm.

I sorry Basmati but 3 people are dead (1) of them being a CHILD and you want to critic 1-9 things about stupid crap that DOES NOT MATTER! You need to get real and find something better to do with your life. Grow Up!

nuk's picture
Submitted by nuk on Tue, 06/26/2007 - 2:50pm.

It was in PTC and in the late 1990's. Nancy Benoit accompanied him to court. Ballard-who had several pro wrestlers as clients in Fayette-wasn't his attorney that I can recall.

I think they botched the timeline of Fri-Sat-Sun also......it would almost have had to be Sat-Sun-Mon as originally reported based on where Benoit was Saturday(Texas) before arriving in ATL.


Submitted by no_matter_what on Tue, 06/26/2007 - 1:58pm.

I agree with the first poster sorry i can't remember your name but he made sense. No matter what dirt is dished out we should all remember that Chris Benoit was a person/wrestler we like and not be jumping in throwing mud ourselves. All you that have been so quick to turn and post bad things who died and made you God? God is only one that will decide where Chris Benoit or any of us go. His family and friends don't need to see stuff like how bad someone was for doing what they alleged he did. Alleged means they have not totally proven it yet. He left for family emergency who is to say that she did not smother their son. I heard they will not know definitely until toxicology reports come back in 2 weeks even though they say he did it right now anything is still possible. He could have killed her in a burst of anger if she did kill their son. They have not told exactly what has led them to the conclusion he is the one that smothered the boy. Anyone ever read "Anyone's Son" by Roberta Roesch family was killed by the 15 year old boy and the 18 year old boy came home late and found his brother sitting on side of bed with gun and in rage he shot the 15 year old and got put in prison for all 4 murders. Know it's not exactly the same just saying there is always another side other than what the cops are saying and even so only God and Chris Benoit and his family know what really took place. No matter what is the truth i will not turn against him as i have seen so many post here have done and to the ones who have posted that only posted that they would miss him and have kept their wits i am glad you can see that throwing mud is not the way to go. You will be terribly missed by all your followers and friends and family the one thing that did make me smile through all this was that you and EG are back together again. To all his friends and his family as I know he had sisters and parents as well as two other children you have my deepest heartfelt sympathy. This is going to be a really rough time for all of you and for his followers alike but having my parents gone and one sister I know how hard it is as i am sure all do in some way have some experience with losing someone they love deeply. You are in our hearts and thoughts and prayers.

Submitted by kthpgrm on Tue, 06/26/2007 - 7:00pm.

I couldnt agree with you more

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Tue, 06/26/2007 - 3:47pm.

Have the authorities ruled out the possibility that Alpha Centaurians gained entry into the Benoit home, committed the acts, and framed poor innocent Chris? The fact that he looked stunning when shirtless and could execute a whirling three-point master over-under spinning body slam leads me to believe that he could not have done what has been alleged.

Yeah. Definitely aliens.

nuk's picture
Submitted by nuk on Tue, 06/26/2007 - 2:13pm.

You won't "turn against him?" Great. A sick monster kills his wife and 7 year old son and u try some lame "maybe his wife killed their son." Talk about serious denial.

The rumor-and about every rumor so far has been correct-is that he killed Nancy Benoit by strangling here with an electrical cord late Saturday. Sunday, he put a bag over his son's head and suffocated him. More than a day later, he hangs himself on weight equipment.

One doesn't need to be God or play God to totally disgusted at the pure evilness and monstrous behavior by a cowardly piece of human garbage. Forget roid rage too, even though steroids were found in the home...this all became very premediated. Maybe one murder could very partially be attributed to out-of-control "roid rage" but not the second. Not when he could either have faced the consequences and son could have still lived.


nookie13's picture
Submitted by nookie13 on Tue, 06/26/2007 - 2:40pm.

What a sad and lonely life you must lead, when all you can do is speak ill of the dead and spread malicious and unfounded rumours about someone. At this moment in time i think it would be best to keep quiet about it and at least give the rest of the family some respect. Paul Middlesbrough, England

Submitted by McDonoughDawg on Tue, 06/26/2007 - 5:16pm.

He's speaking of a killer. A killer who was in our midst until very recently. IF you lived here, you would be shocked/appalled. I know I am.

Does anyone else find it hard to believe they found steroids in the house? I know I don't. I spent enough time around roided up weightlifters/bodybuilders to know they can be absolutely crazy.

I feel compassion for the remaining Children/Family, but not for the murderer that took them from this community.

Submitted by dollaradayandfound on Tue, 06/26/2007 - 3:06pm.

What is all this I hear recently about speaking "ill" of the dead?
Do you say good things about A. Hitler? Jeff Dammer?
Or, just be quiet?

nuk's picture
Submitted by nuk on Tue, 06/26/2007 - 2:53pm.

I'll speak ill of murderering scum all I wish to and could care less about your opinion of my life.


nookie13's picture
Submitted by nookie13 on Tue, 06/26/2007 - 2:58pm.

unless you were there to watch it how the hell do you know what happened, unless, i know, your guessing again haha

nuk's picture
Submitted by nuk on Tue, 06/26/2007 - 3:02pm.

Or maybe you missed the gazillion news reports today and the press conference that was just held? Or the WWE confirming it all well before then? I based everything on published facts given by Ballard and the Fayette Co Sheriff's Dept. Just because you think they are lying hardly means anything.


nookie13's picture
Submitted by nookie13 on Tue, 06/26/2007 - 3:14pm.

been watching and reading, all you are basing your comments on are rumours in the media, i am not saying they are right or wrong..........just give the rest of the family a little respect and consideration

nuk's picture
Submitted by nuk on Tue, 06/26/2007 - 3:34pm.

Watch the press conference which is the factual evidence gathered to date and presented by the sheriff's dept and Ballard. They confirmed pretty much EVERY rumor that had been going around and the bizarre placing of Bibles under the victims, something that the rumor mill had missed to date.

I'm sure Benoit's other 2 kids are not grief-stricken right now but extremely thankful they were nowhere around this past weekend.

nookie13's picture
Submitted by nookie13 on Tue, 06/26/2007 - 3:46pm.

just watched it, but it just proves everything you were saying upto that statement being made was just rumours and hearsay, and i still maintain you should show a little respect and dignity towards the rest of the family right or wrong

cowtipn's picture
Submitted by cowtipn on Tue, 06/26/2007 - 3:42pm.

Something went terribly wrong. Just because he perpetrated this tragedy doesn't erase a lifetime of kindness and good deeds. That is fallacy. You are letting your emotions get the best of you and all you can spread is malicious hate and you need to take a step back. Regardless of his barbarism, he has left an indelible positive mark in this community from his kindness and charity.

nuk's picture
Submitted by nuk on Tue, 06/26/2007 - 3:49pm.

Two innocent victims including a 7 year old.

Please tell me about the charitable events of Chris Benoit anyway. I have lived around Benoit for about 10 years and don't recall him being "active" in PTC as he was on the road about 90% of the year. About all I recall is his DUI in the 1990's and talking to him on a few occasions one of which was when the son was about 6 months old. The mother of his other 2 kids hates his guts also for running off with a married woman so this "lifetime" of good is starting to look pretty inaccurate. I'm thinking Kevin Sullivan probably shares that opinion to some degree also.

I admired the guy's work in the wrestling ring but a double murder of a woman and kid sort of undoes anything else you did in your life on the more positive side.


muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Tue, 06/26/2007 - 3:58pm.

Nuk, you are just too darned judgmental. People have been similarly hard on Bobby Cutts, who also murdered his significant other and child.

But listen to what poor old Bobby's stepmother had to say to CNN today:

"It's very hard to accept," said Barbara Cutts, 46, a nurse's aide. "A lot of people are looking at him like a bad person, but he's not, he really isn't."

You shouldn't allow a single incident like a mere double murder/suicide, including the deliberate smothering of his own little boy, to affect your judgment. Think of all of the good things he probably did before that. Why, there were lots of times when he didn't kill anybody at all!

Lighten up!

cowtipn's picture
Submitted by cowtipn on Tue, 06/26/2007 - 3:57pm.

It doesn't undo anything else. That's spurious reasoning at best. You think that because a man commits an evil act, that invalidates any good he ever committed? Really? He committed an evil; therefore, he must have always been evil. Wow. By that logic I could say that I have never murdered anybody and therefore all my life has been righteous. Stop demagoguing and get back to work!

Wind Dancer's picture
Submitted by Wind Dancer on Thu, 06/28/2007 - 8:21pm.

Thank you for looking at this tragedy in a sane manor. Afterall it was the act that he did that was evil and that doesn't necessarily mean that he was. It is not our place to judge anyone. We each have enough problems just surviving in this world and doing what's right. I believe in God and it's his job to judge the persons who have committed sinful acts and I for one certainly am not God. If you remember all the other people who have killed in their lifetimes, then you also must know that all have been proven to have suffered from some form on insanity. Afterall a sane person doesn't commit murder. For whatever reason,drugs, stress, or maybe even the ongoing violence of his career sent him over the edge. I wasn't there, so I don't know what it was, but I do know this. He has left behind 2 children that need to know what happened to their Dad and why he did what he did. The rest of us, well it's really none of our business, but as humans we take an interest. I for one hope it was a triggered insane mistake.

Submitted by dollaradayandfound on Fri, 06/29/2007 - 7:04am.

I take it that you think that if people say this fellow was mean and ornery, he might not go to heaven?
What is said after his death means nothing!
If all murders are committed by insane people, then we need to release all of the murderers from prison. Some people are simply selfish, mean, and wife beaters, who want their own way about everything.
No triggers were involved here. Been going on for many years. This whole rasslin business is sick.

Malachi's picture
Submitted by Malachi on Tue, 06/26/2007 - 5:49pm.

Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God"
Roman 3:10 "There is none righteous, no, not one.....there is none that does good, no, not one;....Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways:....There is no fear of God before their eyes".....

Everyone is evil and we do the deeds of our Father "Satan" ... John 8:44 "You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do"

I feel for Chris that unfortunately he had no support network to fall back on. We need Jesus. We need to be Born Again. I can only hope that Nancy and Daniel were Born Again.

People, God is Just.

Galatians 5:19 "Now the works of the flesh are manifest,.....murders.....they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God"

"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap" Galatians 6:7

I think enough is said.

nuk's picture
Submitted by nuk on Tue, 06/26/2007 - 4:31pm.

He spent more time and money than Benoit for charity works and was also a superstar in his athletic career. What is the point? That someone is not 100% "pure evil?" It doesn't matter when you kill 2 people what degree of evilness you contained. It's simply "enough" to have killed 2 innocent people.

Let's have a moment for all the double-murderers like OJ and Benoit and reflect on their good works they did before killing people.


nookie13's picture
Submitted by nookie13 on Tue, 06/26/2007 - 3:48pm.

thank you somebody who has a shread of decency in their bones. its so nice to find in these day and ages

Malachi's picture
Submitted by Malachi on Tue, 06/26/2007 - 6:00pm.

The Bible tells us who.............

Rev 22:8
"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."


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