Nancy Benoit 'was afraid' of husband during divorce action, her attorney says

Mon, 07/02/2007 - 12:56pm
By: John Munford

When Nancy Benoit came to his office in 2003 to seek protection from her husband, pro wrestler Chris Benoit, she appeared genuinely afraid of her husband, according to the attorney who represented her during the divorce case Mrs. Benoit ultimately dropped.

Chris Benoit had thrown some things around in the Peachtree City home where they lived at the time, but he had not hurt Nancy Benoit, noted Joe Saia, who represented Mrs. Benoit in the resulting divorce and temporary protective proceedings, both of which were later dropped.

Said said his client felt afraid enough to leave the room and the couple’s home at the time Chris Benoit was accused of damaging items in the house.

Nancy Benoit told Saia that her husband would often fly into a rage for no reason.

“He’d just get in these bad moods and destroy things,” Saia said.

Such incidents may have been a precursor to the events more than a week ago when, authorities said, Chris Benoit is believed to have bound and strangled Nancy Benoit and later choked his son to death before taking his own life. The bodies were found a week ago as officials from the World Wrestling Entertainment organization for whom Chris Benoit worked called sheriff’s deputies concerned about his whereabouts and well-being.

“I did not know he was capable of killing, but I do know he was capable of deep-seated anger,” Saia said.

Saia also recalled that Chris Benoit seemed controlling, and whenever he didn’t think things were going his way in court, “he would let you know he was unhappy about it.”

Mrs. Benoit initially filed for a temporary protective order that, for a while, kept her husband from seeing her and the couple’s then 3-year-old son Daniel.

Saia recalled Nancy Benoit as a personable woman who was very close with her son Daniel, who Saia remembered as a “cute little kid.”

“She was just a really caring person and a great parent,” Saia said.

Authorities said last week that bibles were placed next to Nancy Benoit’s and Daniel Benoit’s bodies, and the WWE released the contents of text messages sent from the Benoit’s cell phones, some of which only mentioned the home’s physical address and another that referenced the presence of the family’s dogs and that a side door to the home was left unlocked.

At the time of the court action between the Benoits, Chris Benoit was on the road three or four days a week, Saia said.

After hearing the news of the tragic killings, Saia said he felt broken up and “somewhat responsible,” for the Benoits’ deaths.

“She was my client,” Saia said. “I wondered if there was anything else I could have done.”

But on the day of a court hearing regarding a longer temporary protective order, Saia spotted Nancy Benoit holding hands with her husband as the couple had apparently decided to patch things up. Saia said he and Chris Benoit’s attorney made the couple promise to get professional counseling.

Saia said Nancy Benoit had the means to leave Chris Benoit if she needed to, but ultimately the couple reconciled their differences.

“My heart goes out to their family,” Saia said. “It’s just sad, so sad.”

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