**This article about the Benoit Family Tragedy was first wrote a couple of years ago on the old site. It was transferred when the new site went up, but work was needed to get it back up to scratch. I re-posted it with a slightly different title on 27th July 2017 as a precursor to a new article about Benoit on the same day. Further editing occured on 28th January 2020; although mainly to re-add videos for a ‘Fight To The Death’.**
The following subject is not for the faint-hearted, so I politely ask you to skip the article if it’s upsetting. I have researched the facts over the years, and I decided to write this after losing my previous article. Eight years (2007) have passed since the tragedy occurred, and when I research I find new information. I will explain the facts with conclusive evidence including quotes, sources and videos. I’ll only give my personal opinions in the conclusion.
I know it will be a monumental task to bring you all the information I can while remaining unbiased. I am here to display facts, seek the truth, and paint the entire picture to allow you to be judge and jury. All I ask is you read through all the evidence before formulating your own judgments, and to remain respectful to others opinions in the comments section.
- Tuesday 19th June – Chris Benoit worked his last wrestling match, defeating Elijah Burke on an episode of ECW. He was scheduled to wrestle CM Punk for the ECW Championship at the Vengeance PPV. Benoit touched the vacant ECW Championship on display following the victory, signalling his desire to become champion.
- Friday 22nd June – Reports on Saturday claimed Benoit rushed home on Friday due to a family emergency. Benoit did not work the Smackdown House Show. Benoit was still scheduled to wrestle for the ECW Championship at the Vengeance PPV. Autopsies revealed Nancy Benoit died at an undisclosed time on Friday by strangulation. She was found wrapped in a towel with her limbs bound with a bible left beside her. Injuries indicated Benoit pressed a knee into her back while pulling on a cord around her neck. Blood was found under her head, suggesting she attempted to fend him off, however officials saw no sign of immediate struggle. Decomposition made it difficult for the medical examiner to determine the levels of hydrocodone and alprazolam in her system, however he found nothing which would sedate her.
- Saturday 23rd June – On Sunday, it was reported Benoit did not work the Vengeance PPV and was replaced by Johnny Nitro. Tazz noted on commentary his absence was due to “personal reasons”. Daniel Benoit was suffocated in his bedroom by his father on Saturday, the exact time is unknown. Daniel was sedated with Xanax, and likely unconscious when he was killed. Daniel had internal injuries to his throat area, showing no bruises. A copy of the bible was left by his body.
- At an unknown time between Friday and Saturday, 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 ECW World Heavyweight Championship at Vengeance: Night of Champions, but would not make the live event in Beaumont.
- Saturday 23rd June – At about 3:30 p.m. EDT, fellow wrestler Chavo Guerrero received a voicemail message from Benoit’s phone stating that he overslept and missed his flight and would be late for that night’s house show in Beaumont, Texas. Guerrero called Benoit back and 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 twelve 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 did not answer 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 of food poisoning”. A 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. Benoit called Guerrero back again asking for advice but Guerrero didn’t know what to do.
- Sunday 24th June – 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 and the fifth said that the family’s dogs were in the enclosed pool area also noting a garage side door was left open. At an unknown time, Chris Benoit used a weight machine to hang himself by creating a noose from the end of the cord. The medical examiner found Xanax, hydrocodone, and an elevated level of testosterone in his system. There was no indication that anything in his system contributed to his violent behavior and roid-rage was ruled out.
- Monday 25th June – WWE received the text messages sent to Chavo Guerrero and Scott Armstrong, and forwarded their concerns to the Fayette County Sheriff. At 2.30 p.m, officers discovered the bodies of the Benoit family. At 4.15 p.m. the police notified WWE of the situation and the house was now ruled as a major crime scene. The investigation determined no additional suspects for the murders as there was no evidence of intruders. WWE cancelled their planned Raw show in favor of a tribute show to Chris Benoit and his career.
Monday Night Raw – Remembering Chris Benoit
The show represents how upset WWE and its wrestlers were over the shocking news. WWE dedicated a full episode of Raw to his life and career, and it included comments from wrestlers coming to terms with the news and saying their goodbyes. WWE issued the following statement before the show.
“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”
As the show neared its end, reports surfaced about the police working under the belief that Chris Benoit was responsible for the deaths. The next day, WWE released a statement before the following ECW broadcast. You can watch the show and the announcement in the videos section.
The media had a field day with the story as they grasped at straws over the possible motives behind the murders. As the wrestling business was known for abusing steroids in the 80’s, the media blew the story out of proportion after finding out that steroids were found in Benoit’s home. The media jumped to conclusions before any toxicology results were reported, and used previous steroid scandals as validation for their claims of “roid-rage”. Despite the police stating Benoit did not commit the murders in an out-of-control rage, the media ignored the facts and claimed Benoit had killed his family in a psychopathic rage.
Fox News went as far as inviting Kevin Nash (who was working for TNA wrestling at the time) to their studio so they could receive confirmation of steroids contributing to roid-rage. The female reporter was unhappy with Kevin Nash’s answers, as he stated roid-rage wasn’t something that would lead one to kill another person, and an argument broke out between them. Nash was visibly upset by the lack of class shown by the Fox News reporter. In the end, Kevin Nash disagreed with all allegations made. The Ultimate Warrior was also featured on Fox News, you can watch both clips in the video section.
The story was covered by People Magazine, and Benoit made the front cover on July 16th. The magazine attempted to explain the murders and the reasons behind it, but fell short due to lack of evidence. However, they gave examples of Benoit’s good character, and questioned how a man who loved fans as young as his own son (Benoit made several Make-A-Wish to children), could commit such horrible crimes.
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.”
Although steroids found in the home were legally prescribed, Benoit was prescribed steroids illegally from Dr. Astin over several years. Astin prescribed illegal steroids to other wrestlers, including: Mark Jindrak, Hardcore Holly, Lex Luger, Rey Mysterio, Jr., Buff Bagwell and Johnny Grunge. Dr. Astin pleaded guilty to 175 counts against him for prescribing illegal steroids, and he admitted to prescribing them without proper examination of the wrestlers beforehand.
The media coverage caused a stir in the government, who decided to investigate WWE and the wellness policy further. An examination of steroids in professional wrestling was conducted, with interviews took place. The findings were explained in a letter by The Honorable John P. Walters, the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
WWE erased any mention of Chris Benoit from their website, merchandise, and scheduled broadcasts. Benoit was edited out of most archived footage, and the Raw tribute show was replaced by a substitute Raw highlighting John Cena’s greatest moments. Title histories remained unchanged, and Benoit was featured in the WWE Encyclopedia. Benoit is included in archive footage on the WWE network with a warning message displayed before any programming involving him.
- Hulk Hogan – “”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 – “About a year before what happened I was talking to Chris—and they (WWE) were running him ragged—and he pulled me aside and said: ‘Listen, I’m ready to snap.’ And I could see it in his face, it wasn’t like a normal: I’m ready to snap, I’m really run down.’ He was like looking at me real intense like he was going to kill me. “He got some time off but when he came back they ran him ragged again and he ended up getting concussion, brain damage, and somewhere along the line he did snap. But everybody wants to blame it on WWE and Vince McMahon and it’s really not their fault.”
- Eric Bischoff – “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.”
- Lex Luger – “Obviously, they (steroids) were in his home. Let’s face it. There’s a pretty good chance he was on them and to discount that they didn’t play a role, as far as with his temperament, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t that possibility.”
- Jillian Hall – “I am 100% in agreement with WWE and Mr. McMahon on completely erasing all tributes to Chris Benoit. While he had always been nice and polite to me and most of the WWE talent, what he did is completely disgusting and unforgivable! This man who could have been a legend has demolished his reputation. My heart goes out to Nancy and the adorable Daniel and the family and friends they left behind!“
- Ted DiBiase – “I have a lot of acquaintances in wrestling. There are a lot of men I have admired as wrestlers, but not necessarily liked as individuals. Chris Benoit was a guy that everybody liked and admired and respected. He earned everybody’s respect. That’s why everybody is shocked.“
- Bret Hart – “Chris, his brain was like mush. He was like a severe Alzheimer patient. You think about climbing up on the top rope, doing that headbutt he did – aside from everything else he did – he would just do that headbutt every night, rain or shine. Sometimes the person would move and he’d hit the mat. He took a lot of head shots over the year. I got kicked in the head by Goldberg … The kick that Bill Goldberg gave me ended my career and cost me millions of dollars. Other than that, I never in my whole career took a real serious concussive head blow from any other match. I never took chair shots. Maybe in Stampede territory, but even then I never let them hit me in the head.“
- Perry Saturn: “I spent so much time with Chris, so many days, months, all that time, and I’ve never even seen Chris mad. It just blows my mind. I’ve seen Chris and his boy praying before matches, I have no idea what happened. On the road, we’d go out, and Chris would go out partying with me, and Chris would always tell me that he’ll party and this and that, but he doesn’t cheat on Nancy. Chris was a faithful husband and everything. I have no idea. If somebody told me that and they didn’t have proof, I wouldn’t believe it. And it’s hard to believe with the proof.“
- Scotty Riggs: “Many wrestling fans remember this weekends anniversary in their own way, I chose to miss my friends Chris, Nancy & Daniel … All RIP.”
- Lance Storm – “The Chris Benoit that I knew some how ceased to exist sometime before Friday June 22, because the Chris Benoit that I knew, could not have done what is now painfully clear he did do. I can offer no explanation or excuse for his actions and will not attempt to defend him. There is no acceptable defense for what he did. I have kids and I cannot even comprehend this act. I either never new the real Chris Benoit or something horrific happened inside of him prior to the 22nd. Many people are blaming drugs. I don’t accept that, and consider drugs an easy scapegoat. If drugs were a factor, then that blame must also fall on Chris Benoit, because from all accounts, he knowingly and willingly took those drugs.”
- Chyna – She said steroids, depression, and mental stress were probably the main factors in Benoit doing what he did. She also blasted WWE and Vince McMahon, saying that McMahon tends to wash his hands of any tragedy that happens in WWE and that she has no respect for Vince McMahon.
- Steve Blackman – “Now I don’t mean to sound like I’m condoning steroids every time I talk like this, because I don’t. Because they’re unhealthy. They’re unhealthy for guys down the road. But they’re not causing them to do things like this. I’ve seen guys take astronomical amounts of those things and never show any outbursts, never act out of hand, anything like that. I feel they’re really trying to emphasis that point.“
- Rob Van Dam – “He was the best of the guys and was a role model’s role model and I respected him. He was a happy guy and had a lot of love for his family. I’m still in the position that I don’t know what the hell happened. I still can’t believe it. We all want closure on this because we’re so damn confused by it.”
- Paul London – “Chris was dark, he was extremely dark. We used to have a joke that Chris was tri-polar, because it was a step up from bi-polarity. He would flip sometimes. I think a combination of Chris’ background of with steroids, mixed with the partying, is a recipe for disaster. One of them is a recipe for disaster. Its literally taking Drano and pouring it on your hard drive. See what that does for your computer.“
- Chris Jericho – On Benoit’s sense of humor: “Not a giggle, not a chuckle, not a tee-hee…never went ‘Ha.’ But when somebody threw up or fell down the stairs, he would laugh out loud for hours on end.” On being Benoit’s friend: “I considered Chris to be one of my closest companions, but it wasn’t always easy to be his friend. You had to take the good with the bad when it came to his friendship.” On hearing that Benoit’s family was dead: “My gut feeling was Chris had killed them“, “I was like everybody else. Shocked. A sense of ‘what the [expletive]’ happened. Denial. Betrayal. How can he do this?… I look back at it now, and I was really close with him, but he got considerably stranger and stranger the last six months of his life. I was like, what’s with this guy? What’s wrong with him? And now I know the reason why. It’s because his brain got worse and worse.“
- William Regal – “Chris and me were the grumpy old men, making out the younger wrestlers didn’t have enough respect for the business. We used to police the dressing rooms together, making sure they didn’t leave any trash in the dressing rooms and stuff like that. But you’d only ever be friends with Chris on his terms. The only way I can rationalize is to say that Chris lost the plot. I know, I’ve done it myself, had blackouts and all kinds of stuff. I can only think the poor lad has snapped, killed Nancy and thought that his son, who had problems, would have to grow up without parents and he thought it was a mercy killing. I am hoping someone can tell me that so I can put it to bed. I’m going to remember Chris for everything except the last two days of his life.“
- Steve Austin – “One night, Chris ended up killing his wife and his kid. That is an act so terrible and horrible I can’t even comprehend or guess as to what happened in that house. That will always overshadow any accomplishment Chris had in the ring. He’ll never be in the Hall of Fame, it will just never happen. His career will speak for itself but his record as a human being, his first and foremost, and those actions will never be forgotten. That’s my feelings on that, we don’t even need to talk about the Hall of Fame. Speaking for myself, Chris Benoit as the person I knew, loved him. Chris Benoit as a wrestler, loved him. Chris Benoit as the person who did what he did, unforgivable. Bottom line.”
- CM Punk – (In 2011) “A pretty… low point in everyone’s life. A lot of people don’t like to talk about it. It still blows my mind.”,“I think that’s the relationship he and I had. We were buddies, and he’d go out of his way to talk to me. Not only about wrestling, but about the music I liked and what was going on in my life. He took care of everybody in the locker room. He asked questions, and he wanted to know what was going on with everybody.”
- Vince McMahon – “A mild-mannered individual”, “There was no way of telling this man was a monster”, “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 OK, and it’s another thing to promote him, which is not OK.”
- Michael Benoit – “We didn’t get a card, a letter, a phone call, flowers, nothing from the CEO of the WWE. And who was the CEO? Linda McMahon“
- Linda McMahon – (To Michael Benoit) “I’d want to look for answers. I’d want to look for somebody to blame, because I don’t think I could find it within myself to actually say what caused my son to do this. I’d be wanting to look for blame”,”My heart goes to him. It really does. The bottom line is we don’t know what happened to Chris Benoit, or what happened in that household.”
- Vickie Guerrero – “Chris went into our house in Phoenix after (Eddie Guerrero’s) the funeral, and he went into our bed and just cried like a little kid, and that’s when I knew this is going to be hard.” On Benoit’s behavior: “I know they fought a lot. Nancy would call me, and they’d be fighting. Of course, I’d think that’s marriage, but when things ended up the way they did, I went, ‘Oh my gosh.’ I wonder if that was the catalyst. He was isolating himself a lot, and that’s hard. It’s hard to see that because I worked with him. To hear her conversations and see him at work, I was like the middle-man. I wanted to tell him, ‘Talk to me!’ and he’d be so quiet.”
- Roddy Piper – Piper recalled his final encounter with the late Benoit in June 2007. It was shortly before their deaths, Piper said, when he ran into a clearly distraught Benoit while wrestling overseas. “I loved Chris. I still do,” Piper said. Recalling the meeting, which Piper said took place roughly a month or so prior to Benoit’s death, “we were overseas and the restaurants and hotels, when we’re overseas, they keep them open 24/7. “I just walked into a bar and he was sitting alone with his back to the wall and there were just tears, he wasn’t saying anything, there were just tears streaming down his face. And so I just sat down, ‘how you doing?’ He says ‘you want a drink?’ ‘Sure.’ I said ‘let’s go on up, Chris.’ I took him up to his room, tucked him in. I don’t know what else to say about that,’” Piper said, his voice cracking. “He was a good man.” Piper still regrets not doing more for his friend “You know what the problem was? Nobody, nobody reached out, including me … nobody reached out. How many signs can you give?” “I loved him, for the record.”
- Elijah Burke – “I have no problem talking about Chris because he had (as evidenced by testing his brain) a disease that was undetected at the time. I remember talking to him, and he would tell me that he forgets a lot of things, and how he would like for me not to be afraid to communicate with him. Chris was a great guy, and regardless what happened (and I’m still not sold on how everything went down, nor the operation in which it was handled) he loved his family too much to ever knowingly commit such an act. However, he had a condition that I’ve witnessed older people deal with all the time, being that my mother’s a nurse. And let me tell you, one minute they’re (Alzheimer Patient) telling you to help them, and the next minute they’re screaming, “Help, there’s a stranger in my room”. “So by Chris’ brain being worse than a 80-year-old Alzheimer patient’s, then who knows. But I loved Chris, and was devastated as he had handpicked me to help elevate to the next level. He called me the day before they say the first “incident” happened to check on me following my back injury when he crashed into my knees during our first and last televised match. Does that sound like a monster to you?“
- Trish Stratus – “Chris was an incredible person, wrestler and friend. To the wrestling business he is the epitome of excellence, an example of dedication and passion, someone who lived their dreams. I shared many moments with Chris, I had the privilege of being his tag partner, we shared a Canadian heritage, we even shared a gap tooth, something that we laughed about years ago. Nancy was a beautiful person inside and out, it was always a pleasure to share a conversation with her, her smile lighting up a room. Their son Daniel rounded out a beautiful family. My thoughts are with the family, friends, as well as others whose lives Chris and his family touched. What an amazing life. I am deeply saddened by Chris’ passing, and humbled by all that he was able to accomplish“.
- Sandra Toffoloni – Sandra isn’t as convinced that brain damage was the only cause of her sister’s death. “You know, evidence showed that on the Sunday before he committed suicide, he was booking flights to get to the show he was scheduled to appear on in Beaumont, Texas. This shows that there was a moment, however brief, that he thought he could get away with it. I don’t believe in the brain damage theory. He killed 2 people and believed he could go wrestle. The concussion theory doesn’t really stick with me.” Sandra brought new, haunting information to light in this interview. “Yes, my brother-in-law had concussions, he hit his head for a living and I understand that. But way beyond that, he had a very serious drug and steroid problem.”
Sandra Toffoloni (left), and parents, Paul and Maureen Toffoloni.
“Unfortunately, a lot of athletes still do to this day. It’s spiraling out of control. The medical examiner told us after the autopsy that Chris was on his way to death within 10 months. His heart was huge, about 3 times normal size, and it was ready to blow up at any moment.” She also spoke on the effects that Eddie Guerrero and other wrestler’s deaths had on the Benoit family. “Chris had suffered multiple losses of friends. Eddie Guerrero’s death in 2005 shocked us all, no one was prepared for that.
It was devastating for Nancy but it was devastating for Chris on a whole other level. Eddie’s passing came after a long line of huge losses and Chris was in a state of perpetual bereavement … The final blow came in mid-June 2007, just a few days before everything happened, when Sherri Martel passed away. That devastated Nancy just as much as Eddie’s death had devastated Chris.”
In an interesting note, it appears as though Chris Benoit may have actually been planning on stepping away from the WWE shortly before his death. “After Eddie passed away, Chris and Nancy discussed the possibility of Chris leaving the WWE and starting his own wrestling school. As a matter of fact, it had become more than a possibility. A business plan had been developed and merchandise had been designed. However, the WWE was prepared to give Chris a big push and put him into another championship match so Chris began training harder and pushing his body further. Chris did a lot of self-medicating.”
- Dynamite Kid – “I feel no sympathy for him. We all knew the dangers. Benoit should have known his limits. We’ve all been through it, but we didn’t take it out on our loved ones. His poor wife and child didn’t deserve to die just because Benoit screwed his life up. I’m glad he’s dead! I warned Benoit to be careful – the wrong combination could send you over the edge. I’m convinced that’s what happened here. He got it wrong, and his wife and son paid the price.”
- Chavo Guerrero – Chavo said he talked to him the last time that Saturday. They were planning to meet up at the city they were wrestling in. He said they were flying into a different airport in Houston. Chavo got a message from Benoit saying he missed his flight. He said he called him back. “He sounded odd and he left with a forced ‘I love you’ Chavo,” he said. “It was enough for me to hang up and think something wasn’t right.” He said he called him back a few minutes later to no response. He said Benoit told him he had a stressful day and things weren’t going well. He said Nancy and Daniel had food poisoning, and he’d hook up with a later flight.
- David Benoit – David believes his father should be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. He said we should focus more on the pros than the cons. He said WWE never gave his family the last paycheck his father earned.
- Bruce Hart – Hart believed Benoit to be someone who chased the dark side and had trouble distinguishing between his fictional character and reality: “The last time I saw him he was in pretty rough shape mentally. I didn’t know all the details but I knew it wasn’t good. I was not at all shocked (by what happened).”,”If I could see and determine that in a few visits, how the hell could they (WWE) not have known something was wrong? (In my opinion) I think the WWE needs to re-evaluate what it is doing here.”
- Kevin Sullivan – “I’m in the dark, I wrestled with him a lot. I thought he was a great performer.”
- Ric Flair – Flair mentioned Chris Benoit by name during his 2008 HOF speech as he listed the names of The Four Horsemen. The mention was edited out and replaced with Flair saying Steve “Mongo” McMichael for a second time.
- The Rock – (His reaction to the headlines) “Oh, of course I was. I was just as surprised to read about that as anyone else was. But it had this very visceral effect on me, because I knew him very well and I knew his wife and I knew his kids. That was an awful tragedy and I hated to see that, and still to this day my heart goes out to the families. It took me probably 36 hours to realize that I had to stop trying to figure out why he did that. I heard what happened and I was just full of questions, like why and how did that happen? And I realized that you and I, we don’t have the wiring, or the capacity, or the constitutional makeup in our bodies to understand why that happened. We can’t make sense of it, we can’t figure it out — you shouldn’t try to figure it out because it just doesn’t make sense. There were things going on in his mind that we couldn’t fathom. But it was awful, and I know that it was a big wake-up call to a lot of guys. There is a tragic epidemic happening right now and changes have to be made to avert the trend.”
- Stephanie McMahon – In a government interview, Stephanie McMahon talked about the changes in the WWE Wellness Policy after the double murder-suicide. She can be quoted as saying “Mr. Benoit was supposed to become ECW Champion that night, and he didn’t show up at the pay-per-view because he was dead.”
- Paul Heyman – “It’s one of those things we’re not supposed to understand, not supposed to be able to comprehend. Because we can’t, even in our darkest moments, come remotely close to the very notion of harming our kids, let alone killing them. Even writing that felt awkward. It’s like trying to wrap your mind around the emotions of a suicide bomber. You can’t. You’re not supposed to. You shouldn’t WANT to be the type of person who understands. Like in this case. As I look back at all the media attention, I can submit to you it’s a shame that missing in these stories is the tragic loss of three lives. “
- Jim Ross – (responding to Hall of Fame questions) “Chris doesn’t belong there. End of story. If inducted, it would all be about the last few, horrific hours of Chris’ life and that would not be fair for the family’s that were affected, the other inductees, or the fans. For those fans who loved Chris’ in ring work, and I consider myself one of those, then watch him on You Tube, etc and call it a day. I do not speak for WWE on any topic but I’d be surprised to see Chris any more prominent on WWE content in the future than he is now.”
- Matt Hardy – “I totally understand why WWE has adopted a non-Benoit policy, that’s a business move to attempt to distance themselves from Chris’s terrible final actions. My point is that I don’t have to cater to & speak by “WWE history”, as opposed to actual, factual history. WWE can treat the Benoit situation as if he never existed, but in reality, he absolutely did.”
- Jim Cornette – “He was a great talent, a wonderful friend and a fine human being who for some reason or combination of reasons went insane and did horrible, unforgivable things in the last two days of his life–you can’t erase him from history, but if anyone would confront it we might learn something to prevent it from happening again.”
- Booker T – “I separate them because I have to, you can’t put the two together. I think of the Chris I knew on the road and in Japan, eating the frickin’ noodles, traveling and working together for years. I can’t put those two people together because I really think the two were different people at the time. We’ll never know what happened, and that’s the thing: We don’t know. The brain is a fragile machine, because you can live with a person for 30 years and then they kill you one day.”
- Sharmell – “My husband and I would first like to extend our thoughts and prayers to entire Benoit family, during this difficult period. Chris Benoit was a tenacious rival, a gracious gentleman, and most of all, a wonderful friend. Booker and I had the honor of knowing Chris and his family for more than a decade, and our lives have been enriched ever since. While our hearts are saddened, we choose to celebrate Chris’ life, his achievements, and his undying dedication to both this business, and to you the fans. The “Rabid Wolverine” may be gone, but his legacy will not be forgotten. Chris’ tenacity will live on, as he will be emulated for years to come (just as he sought to emulate his idol, The Dynamite Kid). In conclusion, we hope that this tragedy serves to help people focus on what is truly important, as we certainly will. Please be grateful for everything that you have, and always keep your family ties as strong as possible.”
- Gregory Helms – Helms posted the following blog entry after the news of the Benoit family death broke out. However, when further details regarding the deaths came out, he deleted the blog: “To my friend Chris Benoit R.I.P. I was sitting here at my computer when I got a call informing me of the death of Chris Benoit and his family. Other than saying that my thoughts go out to to his remaining family, I don’t know what to say. Chris had just called me on Thursday to check on me as he has every week since my surgery and now days later I find out that he’s gone. He was my friend. This hurts! This f**ing sucks!!!! Rest in peace my friend! Love you!”
- Scott Hall – After posting a picture on twitter of himself, Benoit and The Undertaker, Hall posted the following tweets:
— When people ask me about Chris I remember this time in Tokyo at the Hard Rock Cafe when I saw him flip out on this chick,
— From zero to 100 mph…in an instant. Kinda shocked me cause he was normally ultra quiet and very polite. Not that night,
— No. He was on drugs and outta his mind. I knew Chris for many years. In Japan when he lived in the Dojo. Sick not a monster
- Jake Roberts – He gave his views in the documentary posted in the video section.
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter – In 2003, Benoit had been 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.
- Insane Clown Posse – ICP wrote a song titled “Chris Benoit” in 2012 for their The Mighty Death Pop! album. The Houston Press criticized the song, suggesting that it glorified the wrestler’s murders. Spin said that the song uses the wrestler’s psyche “to stare into the void”. Graveside Entertainment cited “Chris Benoit” as a standout of the Mighty Death Pop!, calling it one of Insane Clown Posse’s darkest songs, writing “ICP wisely took a more subtle approach focusing on the mind state someone like Benoit may have had during and after the act and it works extremely well.”
- Our Lady Peace – The band was asked whether they would perform “Whatever”, Chris Benoit’s entrance theme again. Mazur replied with “I couldn’t imagine singing that to be honest, it’s so tied into him and the tragedy that happened, I just couldn’t get it out of my head,” Maida adds they’ve removed the song from their catalog. Chattman thinks it “sucks” they no longer play it since it’s such a “kick-ass” song.
- Batista – “Nobody’s over the Benoit thing, not at all. No one who loved or knew him or Nancy or Daniel will ever get over it. We talk about Chris all the time, but out of respect for what he accomplished as a wrestler dedicated to his craft – the ultimate professional who mentored others .. the guy that did all those horrible things wasn’t the Chris we knew and loved. We didn’t know that Chris, so maybe we’re in denial. That’s not the way I chose to remember Chris. I despise what he did, but I don’t choose to remember him for the killings and negative stuff. He was one of the best people I ever knew in terms of helping others, his accomplishments in the ring, and that’s how I chose to remember him. It still hurts and is still a tremendous loss for all of us. He left a real void in the business.”
- MVP – He has paid tribute to Chris Benoit on several occasions. He provides his thoughts in an interview found in the video section.
— The Kevin Sullivan story is the most common rumor, and it stems from comments made by former wrestler and leader of the KKK (Ku Klux Klan) Johnny Lee Clary. He claimed Sullivan was a Satanist (Sullivan was the leader of the Dungeon of Doom stable), and exacted revenge on the tenth anniversary of his divorce from Nancy Benoit. Sullivan and Nancy briefly portrayed Satanists, but no proof of the Satanist claim has been found. Clary assumed Sullivan was a Satanist through a “source close to me”, which tells you how reliable the information is. Clary did not know Sullivan or the Benoit family personally.
Although Sullivan blamed Chris Benoit for the divorce, Sullivan continued to wrestle him on WCW programming. Benoit showed respect for Sullivan in the Hard Knocks documentary (saying he didn’t take liberties during their matches), and Sullivan paid tribute to the family following their deaths. No evidence of a break-in was ever found, and Sullivan was never questioned by the police. Sullivan replied to the claims in a Youshoot interview with “that’s bullshit”, and “I never said I was a Satanist, and I’ve never been a Satanist.” Just to add to his statement, Satanists do not keep their beliefs secret.
— One week before the family deaths, WWE Hall of Famer Sherri Martel passed away after overdosing on prescription pain pills. As Martel was good friends with Nancy Benoit, rumors linked the two incidents and claimed other possibilities, however no proof was found and the rumor fizzled out.
— Dr. Astin was the doctor prescribing illegal drugs to his patients, including Chris Benoit, Johnny Grunge and an undisclosed name (believed to be Sherri Martel), who all died with Astin’s drugs in their bodies. It was never proven whether Dr. Astin’s prescribed drugs were the leading cause in Benoit’s actions, although it could have been a contributing factor.
— There was a rumor going around that Chavo told WWE magazine that during a conversation with Chris Benoit over the phone, he heard a disruption.
“Chavo Guerrero – a close friend of Benoit – told WWE magazine that he talked to Chris for while on Friday night on his house phone. About 45 minutes into the conversation, Chris told him that there was somebody knocking at his door and he was going to see who it was. Shortly after Chris answered the door, there was a “scuffle” and then his house phone line went dead. Chris could only be reached on his cell phone about 3 hours later. This is very significant. This explains why there was no forced entry. Chris let the killer or killers in.”
There are no records of Chavo ever making the claim, and WWE made it clear that nothing would be said about Chris Benoit after Vince McMahon announced it on television.
— On a Wikinews articles talk page, an editor claimed Nancy Benoit died 14 hours before police found the bodies. The suspicious report sparked police interest, and the editor was questioned. The editor claimed he made the story up from speculation, only for it to become real. The police searched his computer and property, and determined it was a just a ‘terrible coincidence’. The editor made a full apology which you can read here. https://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Chris_Benoit_mystery_…
Motives for the murders have long been deliberated over. WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt said that Benoit was prescribed with testosterone as part of therapy, which he said was common medical practice for those suffering with testicular damage. It would not cause Benoit’s behavior.
Nancy Benoit filed for divorce in May 2003 after domestic abuse from Chris, and a restraining order was enforced. The order was withdrawn in August 2003, and the couple reconciled. In February 2008, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reported that Nancy may have suspected her husband of having an affair with a WWE Diva, 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. The report can no longer be found on their website.
A Fight To The Death
Keeping this separate from the other videos because it’s a must-see for anyone interested in this subject. Michael Benoit (Chris’ Father), Bret Hart, Jake Roberts and Christopher Nowinski discuss Chris Benoit and his CTE diagnosis. I go in to more detail about this diagnosis in the following section. Like I said above, if you’re going to watch anything related to this subject? It’s this. I can only find ‘A Fight To The Death’ in multiple parts, as it can no longer be found as one full video.
Diagnosed with CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy)
On Thursday June 28th, Christopher Nowinski (former WWE wrestler) contacted Chris Benoit’s father Michael. The detailed findings are noted here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/07090…
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a form of brain damage that is best documented in boxers, but can also occur in athletes who played football, ice hockey, rugby, soccer, or any sport associated with impacts to the head. It can only be confirmed by a post-mortem neuropathological study. While studies show that as many as 20 percent of professional boxers show evidence of CTE, there has been little study of CTE in athletes involved in other contact sports.
Michael Benoit, Christopher Nowinski, Bret Hart and Jake Roberts were involved in a documentary titled “A Fight To The Death” on The Fifth Estate which aired on Februay 6, 2008. The documentary goes into detail about Benoit’s life, and the findings by the Sports Legacy Institute. The findings were dismissed as WWE as “Speculative”. Vince McMahon didn’t agree, as Benoit was still mentally able to wrestle and book flights. On May 17th 2013, WWE donated $1.2 Million to SLI, and made the following statement on their website. http://www.wwe.com/inside/overtheropes/wwe-donates…
To further validate WWE’s views on the research conducted by Nowinski and SLI, WWE invited Nowinski to live events to educate the wrestlers on the dangers of untreated concussions. Also, WWE releases statements of concussion injuries, and gives any injured talents time off to recover. In late October 2014, Paul Levesque (Triple H) was elected to the Sports Legacy Institute Board of Directors, further solidifying WWE’s intent to protect wrestlers from CTE.
CTE Related Deaths Outside Wrestling
Chris Benoit was the first wrestler to be diagnosed with CTE (Andrew ‘Test’ Martin the second), but many athletes from Boxing, American Football and other sports have been diagnosed as well.
- American Football – Over 50 Football players showed clear signs of CTE post-mortem. On December 1, 2012, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend and drove to Arrowhead Stadium and killed himself in front of then GM Scott Pioli and then head coach Romeo Crennel. A year later, a family lawyer filed a wrongful death lawsuit, on behalf of Belcher’s minor daughter, against the Chiefs alleging the team deliberately ignored warning signs of CTE, possibly leading to his suicide. The lawyer also hired a medical examiner to examine Belcher’s brain for signs of CTE. On September 29, 2014, it was confirmed that he suffered from CTE.
- An autopsy conducted in 2010 on the brain of Owen Thomas, a 21-year-old junior lineman at the University of Pennsylvania who committed suicide, showed early stages of CTE, making him the second youngest person to be diagnosed with the condition. Thomas was the second amateur football player diagnosed with CTE, after Mike Borich, who died at 42. The doctors who performed the autopsy indicated that they found no causal connection between the nascent CTE and Thomas’s suicide. There were no records of Thomas missing any playing time due to concussion, but as a player who played hard and “loved to hit people,” Thomas may have played through concussions and received thousands of subconcussive impacts on the brain
- In October 2010, 17-year-old Nathan Stiles died hours after his high school homecoming football game, where he took a hit that would be the final straw in a series of subconcussive and concussive blows to the head for the highschooler. The CSTE diagnosed him with CTE, making him the youngest reported CTE case to date.
- In July, 2011, Colt tight end John Mackey died after several years of deepening symptoms of frontotemporal dementia. BUSM was reported to be planning to examine his brain for signs of CTE. The CSTE found CTE in his brain post-mortem.
- In 2012, retired NFL player Junior Seau committed suicide with a gunshot wound to the chest. There was speculation that he suffered brain damage due to CTE. Seau’s family donated his brain tissue to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. On January 10, 2013, the brain pathology report was revealed and Seau did have evidence of CTE.
- Bernie Kosar, who sustained several concussions during his twelve-year NFL career and has shown symptoms of CTE, has submitted himself to an experimental treatment program led by Rick Sponaugle of Florida that has alleviated many of his symptoms. The program, the details of which are proprietary, involves increasing blood flow to damaged portions of the brain. He has spoken out in public about his successes with the treatment in the hopes that others who suffer from the disease can find relief and avoid the fates of Duerson and Seau, both of whom were personal friends of Kosar’s. The efficacy of Sponaugle’s treatment has not been validated through any published clinical trials or other validated scientific process, nor has this treatment been supported by any reputable medical group conducting research into CTE.
- Ice Hockey – Rick Martin, best known for being part of the Buffalo Sabres’ French Connection, was diagnosed with CTE after his brain was posthumously analyzed. Martin was the first documented case of an ice hockey player not known as an enforcer to have developed CTE; Martin was believed to have developed the disease primarily as a result of a severe concussion he suffered in 1977 while not wearing a helmet. The disease was low-grade and asymptomatic in his case, not affecting his cognitive functions. He died of a heart attack in March 2011 at the age of 59.
- Football/Soccer – In 2012, Patrick Grange a semi-professional footballer, was diagnosed in an autopsy with Stage 2 CTE with motor neuron disease. “The fact that Patrick Grange was a prolific header is important,” Christopher Nowinski, co-founder of the Sports Legacy Institute, said in an e-mail. “We need a larger discussion around at what age we introduce headers, and how we set limits to exposure once it is introduced.” Grange played football at high school; college at Illinois-Chicago and New Mexico; in the Premier Development League; for Albuquerque Asylum and Chicago Fire Premier. He died of ALS at age 29 in 2012 with a posthumous diagnosis of CTE.
- In 2014, Brazilian footballer Bellini was posthumously diagnosed with CTE. Bellini, along with Pelé, led Brazil to World Cup victories in 1958 and 1962
- Rugby – In 2013, Dr Willie Stewart, Consultant Neuropathologist at the Institute of Neurological Sciences at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow, identified CTE in the brain of a former amateur rugby player in his 50s which is believed to be the first confirmed case of early onset dementia caused by CTE in a rugby player.
- Boxing – Dave Duerson, a former Chicago Bears player, committed suicide after having suffered from memory problems, erratic and uncontrolled emotions, and violent behavior. He left a note requesting that his brain be donated to the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy so that it could be studied. These brain tests confirmed what he suspected: that he had suffered from CTE.
- Examples of CTE diagnosis are also found in Mixed Martial Arts, Australian Rules Football, and Major League Baseball.
You can find videos related to the Benoit family tragedy here. They are in chronological order.
Ten Months To Live
Initially there was no report of any heart issues, but it was later revealed Benoit had a severely enlarged heart, a common finding in wrestlers who abused steroids in their career. Benoit was given roughly ten months to live had the double murder/suicide not occurred. It was likely his death would have similarities to Eddie Guerrero’s. Had this information been presented from the beginning, the media would have used it as ammunition for their steroid claims. (Source)
The Suicide Note
A report by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter stated Martina Benoit (mother of Benoit’s two children) found a bible in Chris’ personal belongings with a suicide note inside. The hand-writing was confirmed to be Chris’, and it was not dated. This was mentioned by Michael Benoit when he talked to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an article that went unnoticed by the online wrestling community: Michael Benoit lives in Canada and didn’t see his son frequently enough to notice a mental decline. But he said the signs at the murder scene — Benoit had surrounded his victims with Bibles, and a suicide note was found in a Bible in a drawer — fit the profile of a CTE sufferer. “He had a hand-written notation in there saying ‘I’m preparing to leave this Earth’,” Benoit said.
I am among those who believe CTE lead him to commit the crimes. His depression, use of steroids, and family issues may have contributed to his physical and mental state, and evidence provided shows examples of CTE sufferers who died after violent and unexplained behavior. I have to believe in the research by the Sports Legacy Institute, otherwise there’s no other logical explanation. WWE has taken their stance on the research, as they continue to support the Sports Legacy Institute. WWE is not at fault for this, and neither is the wrestling industry. For decades, athletes have suffered from CTE, and the discovery is still relatively new. Neither the wrestlers or the wrestling industry could have known the damage caused by untreated concussions.
Did Chris Benoit kill his family with a motive behind it? Or was the disease so severe he lost grip on reality? Some believe he had no control, although it seems Benoit had some degree of control. Others believe Chris Benoit is a cold-blooded killer, and should never be mentioned again. The most difficult part to get around is the deaths of the victims; a loving wife, and a young boy with so much life ahead of him. We think about our own families and how unimaginable it would be for something like this to happen to our family members. It’s a cruel and twisted story, with fans and talent in the business praising Benoit for being a great wrestler and human being while not knowing the answers behind his crimes..
The facts are facts, Chris Benoit killed his wife and son, but knowing why it happened is the most important lesson anyone can take from it. If Benoit truly was a sick man, then he was a victim too. There were signs of Chris Benoit knowing something was wrong, as he tried reaching out to Nowinski and MVP, but the warning signs were not clear enough. The autopsy revealed the damage was so severe he could not be held accountable for his actions, and If that is true, then the Benoit family are victims of CTE. The suicide note gives you an idea of his mental state, and he’s not the first wrestler to commit suicide after plunging into severe depression. The list article “100 wrestlers who died before their time“, shows the grim reality of professional wrestling.
The Benoit family were not victims of Chris Benoit, they were victims of the naïvety of untreated concussions, and the drugs culture surrounding the business. I don’t blame anyone for this, it was a tragedy which shocked the wrestling world with a disease that continues to plague other sports. Your views are going to be determined by how serious you take mental illnesses. You may ask questions like “so that means any murderer has a brain condition? No. Every crime is different and cannot be judged in the same manner. They may have health issues, or they may not .. everyone is different. Clearly, anyone who murders has to be mentally unstable .. but there’s a large difference between mentally unstable, and mentally damaged due to physical trauma. Chris Benoit was not a psychopathic killer with an unstable mind, he was a loving father and husband with a damaged brain.
Unless further evidence is revealed to show otherwise, I will continue to believe the doctors and Christopher Nowinski. You may decide whether Benoit is guilty of being a cold-blooded killer, or undeserving of the label because of the brain damage. Whether he’s innocent or guilty of his crimes doesn’t matter, Chris Benoit’s wrestling career will never be celebrated .. but at least we have a better answer as to “Why?”. Knowing the answer to the question may save lives. I hope this article provided plenty of insight, I spent many hours researching, writing, and editing. I do not wish any disrespect towards the families involved. Thank you for reading.