Wrestling Babylon: The Benoit Murders, the Strange Death of Sherri Martel Days Before, the “Prince of Darkness” & the Ring of Death
Ring Of Death
Last weekend, police found the bodies of professional wrestler Chris Benoit, his wife Nancy and son Daniel in Benoit’s suburban Atlanta home. The details that have emerged are grisly and strange. … Last year, performer Eddie Guerrero died of a sudden heart attack that many believe was brought on by years of steroid abuse. Other performers have recently died young, including Curt Hennig, who wrestled under the name “Mr. Perfect.”
Though it’s tempting to dismiss the Benoit murder-suicide as one deranged act that shouldn’t tar an entire industry, it’s very difficult to do so in light of journalist Irvin Muchnick’s recent book, Wrestling Babylon ($18, ECW Press, 2007).
Muchnick has covered wrestling for various publications for decades, and this book collects his articles about some of wrestling’s most sordid moments. Though WWE Chairman Vince McMahon has successfully sold his scripted sport as mainstream entertainment, wrestling seems mired in its carnival roots. Performers are overworked and need painkillers to deal with their frequent injuries. They’re expected to have godlike bodies while traveling 200 days a year, and so they turn to steroids. Failed marriages are normal, and high jinks on the road sometimes get out of hand.
Writing about the Von Erich family, who were heroes in Texas wrestling during the 1980s, Muchnick reveals how the family patriarch, Fritz von Erich, basically sacrificed his entire family to his World Class Championship Wrestling promotion. He promoted his sons as clean-cut All-American heroes. Son David died of a likely drug overdose while wrestling in Japan. Son Mike killed himself after he couldn’t cut it as a wrestler. Son Kerry shot himself. This is just a partial death list.
Muchnick also exposes a little-known story about wrestler Jimmy Snuka, who in 1983 took up with a 23-year-old groupie; she wound up dead at an Allentown, Pa., hospital from “undetermined craniocerebral injuries.” Snuka was never charged with a crime, but Muchnick makes a compelling case that the popular wrestler, known as “Superfly,” had battered his girlfriend.
According to Muchnick, in a discussion with an attorney who had considered representing the girl’s family in a wrongful-death suit, McMahon said, “Look, I’m in the garbage business. If you think I’m going to be hurt by the revelation that one of my wrestlers is really a violent individual, you’re mistaken.”
Muchnick ends his book with an appendix detailing which wrestlers have died and from what causes, since 1985. It’s 11 pages long, and “natural causes” are rare. There have been murder victims, suicides, drug overdoses and untimely organ failures.
There’s something dark about a business that should be full of light. After all, when it works, wrestlers make kids believe that grown men can fly. Muchnick captures some of that sentiment as well. But he also reveals a lot of tragedy that’s gone unnoticed in the marginalized but big-money world of professional wrestling.
Chris Benoit was found dead in his Georgia home Sunday with his wife and daughter. Here are some other notable professional wrestling deaths:
The Von Erich Family: At one time, the Von Erichs were the biggest stars in wrestling, but things went bad for the family rather quickly. Of the five brothers that wrestled, only one lived to reach the age of 35. David died in 1984 due to an intestinal problem. Mike, Kerry and Chris all committed suicide.
Bruiser Brody: In 1988, Bruiser Brody (Frank Goodish) was stabbed to death in a Puerto Rico locker room after getting into an argument with fellow grappler and local booking agent Jose Huertas Gonzalez, who was later charged with murder. Gonzalez was acquitted in 1989 on grounds of self-defense.
Andre the Giant: Andre The Giant (Andre Rousimoff) died Jan. 27, 1993, of a heart attack at 46. At 7 feet tall and more than 500 pounds, Andre was one of the biggest and most popular wrestlers in the business for nearly 20 years. The man who wore a size 26 EEEE shoe died just 12 days after he buried his father.
Dino Bravo: Bravo (Adolpho Bresciano) was shot and killed near his home in Canada on March 11, 1993, at the age of 44. Bravo was believed to have upset members of an organized crime group in Canada for his involvement with cigarette smuggling. The murder was never solved.
Eddie Graham: Graham (Eddie Gossett) committed suicide on Jan. 21, 1985, at the age of 55. The former wrestler and promoter was despondent after falling victim to a con man’s scam involving a dirt-hauling business venture.
“Gorgeous” Gino Hernandez: Hernandez (Charles Wolfe) died of a cocaine overdose on Jan. 30, 1986, at the age of 29. Hernandez was at the peak of his wrestling career when he became a drug abuser.
“Adorable” Adrian Adonis: Adonis (Keith Franke) died in an auto accident on July 4, 1988, at the age of 34 while traveling to a wrestling show in Lewisporte Newfoundland, Canada.
“Flyin’ ” Brian Pillman: Pillman, 35, was found in a Minnesota hotel room in October 1997 with empty vials of painkillers near his body. His widow, Melanie King, said an autopsy found that Pillman died from undiagnosed heart disease, although she also claimed his heavy use of prescription drugs may have played a role by enabling him to exceed normal physical limits.
Louie “Spicolli” Mucciolo: Mucciolo, 27, died from coronary disease in his San Pedro, Calif., home in 1998, according to his autopsy. Investigators found an empty vial of the male hormone testosterone, pain pills and an anxiety-reducing drug on the scene and the Los Angeles County coroner’s office determined the drugs might have contributed to his heart condition.
Richard “Ravishing Rick Rude” Rood: Rood, 40, died from an overdose of “mixed medications” in Alpharetta, Ga., in 1999, his autopsy shows. In 1994 he testified that he had used anabolic steroids to build muscle mass and relieve joint pain.
Owen Hart: At the Over the Edge ’99 PPV event, Owen Hart, dressed as the Blue Blazer, was set to descend from the ceiling of the arena to the ring. However, Hart plummeted from the rafters chest-first onto a turnbuckle. He was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. The event went on — fans in attendance did not find out what happened to Hart while the audience at home was told. Fans in attendance and at home did not witness the fall, as an interview was being shown at the time of the accident.
“The British Bulldog”: “The British Bulldog” (Davey Boy Smith), 39, died in 2002 in Canada of an enlarged heart with evidence of microscopic scar tissue, possibly from steroid abuse, a coroner said.
Miss Elizabeth: In 2003, wrestling beauty Elizabeth Anne Houlette passed away from an overdose of a combination of pain pills and alcohol..
Curt Hennig: Hennig, 44, died of acute cocaine intoxication in February 2003, medical records show. But his family has said that years of steroids and painkillers use contributed to his death.
Eddie Guerrero: Although Guerrero was primed to overcome his personal battle with drug and substance abuse, he was found dead from heart failure November 13, 2005, the morning he was scheduled to wrestle for the World Championship.
Ed “The Bull” Gantner: Ed “The Bull” Gantner committed suicide on Dec. 31, 1990, at 31. Gantner, who played football at Edgewater High School and the University of Central Florida before becoming a professional wrestler, was in failing health due to steroid abuse.
WWE AND “BODY FASCISM”
… Then there is Vince McMahon, emperor of WWE, who has long held that he and, by extension, his audience want to see in-ring performers with bodies that would shame Masters Of The Universe action figures. Of course, Vince also has a thing for his boys being the size of Watusi warriors, but regardless of whether you’re a seven-footer or a shade over 5’2”, it’s a sculpted physique that really gets the big man’s engine running.
The McMahon clan’s body fascism has come at quite a cost. During the early Nineties, Vince was caught up in a steroid scandal that nearly cost him his company and his freedom. Then there have been the deaths, the injuries generated by excess drug use and the smell of impropriety that has long denied McMahon the mainstream acceptance he craves. And now, with a host of fresh performers fighting accusations of steroid misuse, the bad times are back. Of course, they could have gone away forever if only WWE could accept that mortal men aren’t meant to look like Greek gods. Then again, if you can’t convince Vinnie Mac that rape and necrophilia aren’t suitable subjects for family entertainment, you’ve little to no hope of curing him of his core belief – that big muscly men equal bumper box office.
If McMahon’s flesh fetish is rather laughable, it does at least have a solid basis in fact. For when WWE first began to make it big, it was on the back of a man with 24-inch Pythons and a ripped bodybuilder’s torso. No, Terry Gene Bollea didn’t look like an everyday guy but he had a pretty regular name – so Vince re-christened him Hulk Hogan and both the industry in general and the look of its performers were changed forever. …
World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE) is a publicly traded, privately controlled integrated media (focusing in television, Internet, and live events), and sports entertainment company dealing primarily in the professional wrestling industry, with major revenue sources also coming from film, music, product licensing, and direct product sales. Vince McMahon is the majority owner and Chairman of the company and his wife Linda McMahon holds the position of Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Together with their children, Executive Vice President of Global Media Shane McMahon and Executive Vice President of Talent and Creative Writing Stephanie McMahon-Levesque, the McMahons hold approximately 70% of WWE’s economic interest and 96% of all voting power in the company.
The company’s global headquarters are located at 1241 East Main Street in Stamford, Connecticut, with international offices in Los Angeles, New York City, London, and Toronto. The company was previously known as Titan Sports, Inc. before changing to World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc., and most recently becoming World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.
Death of Sherri Martel
Pro wrestler Russell dies at age 49
June 16, 2007
Sherri Russell, better known to a generation of pro wrestling fans as “Sensational Sherri” Martel, died Friday at the age of 49. She passed away at her mother’s home in Birmingham, Ala.
No other details were available at press time.
Russell, who was regarded as one of the greatest female heel managers in the business, was the only woman ever to win the Manager of the Year award.
Russell competed in most of the major wrestling organizations during her career and was enshrined in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006.
On June 15, 2007, WWE.com announced that “Sensational” Sherri Martel had died that morning at her mother’s residence in Birmingham, Alabama.She was 49 years old. Dave Meltzer stated on his Wrestling Observer Live radio show that Martel’s passing was not a result of natural causes, and that the case is still under investigation by law enforcement. On June 19, 2007, police confirmed that Martel did not die of natural causes, but no foul play is suspected. A cause of death for Martel will not be determined until her autopsy and toxicology reports have been completed. Based on what is known, Martel had gone to bed at her mother’s home (where she was living recently) because she wasn’t feeling well. Her husband found her unresponsive later that afternoon.
Sherri was buried on June 28, 2007.
Another Pro Wrestler Found Dead Days Before Benoit Murder-Suicide
June 28, 2007
A week to the day before pro wrestling wife Nancy Benoit was found murdered in her suburban Atlanta home, the body of former pro wrestler and manager Sherri Martel was discovered in her World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE) is a publicly traded, privately controlled integrated media (focusing in television, Internet, and live events), and sports entertainment company dealing primarily in the professional wrestling industry, with major revenue sources also coming from film, music, product licensing, and direct product sales. Vince McMahon is the majority owner and Chairman of the company and his wife Linda McMahon holds the position of Chief Executive Officer (CEO). …
… Martel, a pro wrestler in the WWE Hall of Fame who went by the ring name “Sensational Sherri,” and who later managed the likes of “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, Ric Flair and “Macho Man” Randy Savage, was found dead by her husband Robert Schrull at her mother’s home in McCalla, Ala., on June 15, according to the Tuscaloosa News newspaper.
Linking Martel to the deaths of Nancy and husband Chris Benoit and their son Daniel is former pro wrestler Kevin Sullivan, a man once married to Nancy Benoit and who also was Martel’s friend and booker.
Following World Wrestling Entertainment’s announcement of Martel’s death, wrestling Web sites quickly began speculating about case.
Dave Metzler of Wrestling Observer Live told his audience that she did not die of natural causes, saying “this was not a typical wrestler’s death,” according to reports. But Capt. Loyd Baker of the Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit told the Tuscaloosa News that foul play was not suspected in her death.
“The cause of death is pending her autopsy and toxicology report,” he said June 19. An officer in the homicide unit told FOXNews.com that those results could take months to be finished.
Martel began her career in the early 1980s and later went on to manage more than 15 wrestlers including Ric Flair and Jake “The Snake” Roberts.
“Everyone respected her,” said Bruce Mitchell, a columnist for the Pro Wrestling Torch newsletter and Web site, told the Tuscaloosa News. “She was an attractive lady, but she wasn’t just eye-candy.
“She was really a pioneer and a trailblazer.”
One popular wrestling site, PWTorch.com, reports that Kevin Sullivan, then married to Nancy, tried to pair Martel with wrestler Ric Flair as part of a scripted Nicole Brown/O.J. Simpson ring drama, but that “work” was abandoned.
PWTorch.com writes that in early 1996, Martel became involved in a strange “work” — or scripted — feud between Sullivan and wrestler Brian Pillman.
The match reportedly got out of hand, and spilled into a backstage confrontation involving Martel and the then-Nancy Sullivan. Reports of the incident say that the argument escalated with Martel spitting on Nancy Sullivan.
Martel reportedly was later fired.
Several wrestling blogs reported that Martel had a drug problem and had entered a 21-day rehab program, but investigating police would not comment.
PWTorch.com quoted her in 2005 saying, “I slip back every now and again, but I am trying my best.”
Kevin Sullivan, meanwhile, spoke earlier this week FOXNews.com, and expressed shock and sadness over the death of his former wife in her suburban Atlanta home.
Sullivan married the former Nancy Daus in 1985. The couple was still married in the 1990s when a scripted rivalry between Benoit and Sullivan in the now-defunct World Championship Wrestling (WCW) resulted in Benoit as the victor on the mat. However, a real romance blossomed between Benoit and Nancy, who eventually split with Sullivan and married Benoit in 2000.
From his home in Tavernier, Fla., in the Florida Keys, where he owns and runs a gym called Froggy’s Fitness with his wife, Linda, Sullivan said he had not spoken to his ex-wife since their split. He told FOXNews.com he learned of the grisly crime, which reportedly took place over several days, from television news on Monday evening.
Sullivan said he did not know Benoit well outside the ring. “I never associated with him, so I really don’t know his personality,” he said. … “[But] I’m sad for all three, especially the child.”
Foul Play Not Suspected In The Death Of Sherri Martel
Captain Loyd Bakers of the Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit told The Tuscaloosa News that Sherri Martel did not die of natural causes, but foul play was not suspect …
KEVIN ‘PRINCE OF DARKNESS” SULLIVAN and the BENOITS
… Graham’s next major foray into Florida came in 1984, as a part of the faction led by “Prince of Darkness” Kevin Sullivan.
“All the devil stuff, it was very unique,” he said, laughing. “Kevin made me laugh a lot, and he was crazy, but he performed that bit to a “T.” Kevin was funny guy, a great guy. He was someone I had known for long time, and he was very funny. But he was able to really convince the people. They had that fear, that he was legit.”
FOX Covering Sherri’s Death, Benoit/Wikipedia Update
Story posted by Ryan Clark on June 28, 2007
The Fox News Channel is now reporting on the death of former WWE manager Sherri Martel. It’s currently a front page headline on their website, with a big graphic posted as well. Furthermore, they just mentioned the story on Studio B With Shepard Smith. There doesn’t appear to be any new details regarding her death, although they are mentioning that there was a backstage incident involving Martel and the then-Nancy Sullivan in early 1996. Reports of the incident say that an argument between the two escalated with Martel spitting on Nancy Sullivan. Martel reportedly was later fired. Fox News is getting all this information from the Pro Wrestling Torch, which is what they were reporting at the time. While that incident may have happened, in actuality, according to Dave Meltzer is she was let go by WCW in early 1996 because she “showed up in condition to work” at a TV taping. That also explains why her feud with Madusa, who crashed Sherri’s “wedding” with Col. Robert Parker, was suddenly cut off. In July 1996, Sherri was brought back to manage Harlem Heat again, but she was let go again a year later for reasons undisclosed. Fox News is also saying that Kevin Sullivan, then married to Nancy, tried to pair Martel up with Ric Flair as a play on the Nicole Brown/O.J. Simpson story at the time. That seems to be incorrect as Sherri herself said during her WWE Hall of Fame induction last year that she was going to be paired up with Ron Simmons. She said the storyline was nixed by the people at Turner because it would have been too controversial.
Fox News is reporting that an anonymous user out of Stamford, CT edited Chris Benoit’s entry on Wikipedia to feature the comments, “However, Chris Benoit was replaced by Johnny Nitro for the ECW Championship match at Vengeance, as Benoit was not there due to personal issues, stemming from the death of his wife Nancy.” The comments led to Wikipedia volunteers contacting Fayetteville, Georgia authorities.
However, the I.P. address in question also made a series of other edits to different entries, including former WWE Diva Stacy Keibler, WWE star Chavo Guerrero, NBA player Ron Artest and the HBO series The Sopranos. Many of the edits were misspelled or explicit in nature, leading one to believe that the postings were made by a hoaxer. You can read this person’s past edits here.
Even though the IP address is being traced back to Stamford, CT, it’s also entirely conceivable that the user was concealing his true IP address. One person who knows a lot about internet technology said, “They have software out there that you install on your computer that will change your IP address and location or origin that people will see on the Internet. IP spoofing is a little more technical so with this user, based on the grammar, looks to be someone young using a software program of that nature.”
More than likely, this person made a wild guess regarding the Benoit situation at the time, and this person turned out to be right.
Web Time Stamps Indicate Nancy Benoit’s Death Reported on Web at Least 13 Hours Before Police Found Bodies in Her Home
Last Edited: Thursday, 28 Jun 2007, 7:13 PM CDT
By Blane Bachelor
June 26, 2007
Slain wife of wrestler a former DeLand High School student
Staff and Wire Report
The slain wife of professional wrestler Chris Benoit was a student at DeLand High School who entered the high-voltage world of pro wrestling while still answering phones for a local insurance agency.
In articles published more than 20 years ago, Nancy Benoit, better known by her in-ring names Woman and Fallen Angel, told The Daytona Beach News-Journal she entered the sport when she and her then-husband Jim Daus became friends with several wrestlers competing in Orlando.
Modeling jobs for wrestling magazines followed, until she teamed up with The Prince of Darkness, locally-based wrestler Kevin Sullivan, as his “valet” sidekick known as The Fallen Angel.
Nancy Benoit, 43, worked both sides of the rope in her career as a manager, valet and wrestler who endured her share of body slams and atomic knee drops.
Benoit met his wife in the 1990s when she was married to rival wrestler Kevin Sullivan. As part of the scripted rivalry, Benoit and Nancy Sullivan were supposed to act as if they were having an affair. A real romance blossomed, and she left Sullivan for Benoit.
Her ring life became real life when she married Benoit in 2000. In 2003, she filed for divorce from Benoit, alleging “cruel treatment,” according to wrestling Web sites, but later dropped the suit.
In a News-Journal article published Feb. 10, 1986, Nancy Benoit contemplated her future in wrestling: “I don’t know what’s going to happen. You never know what to expect.”
Jim Daus, Nancy Benoit’s first husband and also a DeLand High School graduate, spoke in an interview Tuesday night by phone.
“I’ve had no contact with Nancy in about 6 1/2 years, and that was by e-mail about her (then-newborn) son Daniel,” Daus said. “We’ve been divorced about 20 years.”
Jim Daus said he grew up with Nancy Benoit, whose maiden name was Toffoloni — having graduated in 1980 from DeLand High School.
Benoit Story: Fox TV implies a connection between Sherri, Sullivan, Nancy, and Chris
By Wade Keller
Jun 28, 2007, 16:03
Fox News on TV has reported that Sherri Martel was friends with Nancy Benoit, and that Sherri was friends with Kevin Sullivan, Nancy’s ex-wife. Anchor Shepard Smith said that Sherri’s death was from unnatural causes, but authorities had ruled out foul play. There was a loose implication in the tone and presentation that there may have been a connection between the four and perhaps the deaths of Sherri and Nancy.
WK Analysis As far as Sherri’s involvement goes, there is zero evidence or even rumors within the industry – and there’s no shortage of those, by the way – that Sherri’s death and Nancy’s death are related. The only connection could be that the death of Sherri shook up Nancy and the death of Benoit’s good friend from the Calgary Stampede Wrestling days, Biff Wellington, had made each emotionally more fragile headed into the weekend. The Fox News presentation definitely came across as premature and sensationalistic. It’s clear cable news loves this story right now and are looking for any new angle to take to keep it going. The fact that TV news has websites associated with them, and websites track specific interest in news stories, and the fact that the Benoit story has driven major website hit counts, is now leading to the story remaining in the news. It also helps with the DEA is seizing the Benoits’ doctor’s computers and files.
Nancy Benoit Remembered
By Ex-Husband Kevin Sullivan
By Gia Cortina
Jun 27, 2007
Former professional wrestler Kevin Sullivan was shocked and sad when he heard about the death of his ex-wife Nancy Benoit. Nancy was discovered dead in her home Monday along with her 7-year-old son Daniel and husband, WWE Superstar Chris Benoit, in an apparent murder-suicide.
Sullivan married for the former Nancy Daus in 1985. The couple were still married in the 1990s when a scripted rivalry between Benoit and Sullivan in the now-defunct World Championship Wrestling (WCW) resulted in Beniot as the victor on the mat, reports Fox News.
Besides his mat victory that night, Benoit also was victorious with Nancy, as a real-life romance began in 1997.
Ultimately, Nancy divorced Sullivan and married Benoit in 2000. The couple did not have any children.
Sullivan resides in Tavernier, Florida, within the Florida Keys, where he and his now wife Linda own and run a gym called ‘Froggy’s Fitness’.
Sullivan told Fox News that he had not spoken to his ex-wife since their split…and that he learned of the grisly crime, which reportedly took place over several days, from television news on Monday evening.
“It’s surreal,” said Sullivan. “She was a nice person. We just went our separate ways. She was nice and very loving and I’m sure she was a good mother.”
Sullivan also said that he did not know Benoit well outside the ring. “I never associated with him, so I really don’t know his personality,” he said. “(But) I’m sad for all three, especially the child.”
Nancy had her big break in professional wrestling as a valet and manager 26 years ago.
Kevin Sullivan — who Otten referred to as “a genius” of a booker — had been feuding with Haynes at this time, and came to Otten excitedly, with the idea of using the same girls in a photo shoot with him. Playing his occult persona to perfection, Sullivan wanted to give the impression that he had brainwashed Haynes’ lady-friends, and brought them into his realm.
But only Nancy showed up that day. It was to be the beginning of new things for her, both professionally and personally.
Nancy was dubbed “The Fallen Angel,” and became Sullivan’s valet. Her beauty brought out an extra dimension in Sullivan’s gimmick, playing him to the crowd as the master of manipulators, with a mental control over those who followed him. In reality, the two had fallen in love, and after her divorce from Jim Daus, they married in 1985. But Otten believes that Nancy’s decisions may have been as much about succeeding professionally as anything else.
Kevin and Nancy moved to Atlanta and World Championship Wrestling in 1989, and it was a further six years before Otten would cross their paths again. This time, it was in ECW, when Nancy was managing The Sandman. Fortuitously meeting on an aeroplane on their way to Philadelphia, she explained that her role was to light cigarettes and open beer cans for her charge. Initially perplexed, Otten soon came to understand, and appreciate, what that was all about.
After her ECW stint had come to an end, Nancy returned to WCW, and in the storyline, was stolen again, this time leaving Sullivan to manage Chris Benoit. Bizarrely, Sullivan, who was booking the storylines at the time, suggested that Chris and Nancy share hotel rooms, and portray their alliance as a shoot. In 1997, Otten spotted Nancy with Chris in San Francisco, prior to a WCW pay-per-view. She insisted that she was merely showing him around the city, but they “seemed pretty friendly,” in Otten’s own words.
It would later be joked in wrestling locker rooms that Sullivan “had booked his own divorce,” and Otten noted that he believed that both Chris and Nancy wanted to start a family, which likely led to their decision to get engaged, just months after Otten spotted them together. Most likely, the idea would be that Chris would continue to wrestle and provide for the family, while she stayed at home.
Otten ended the interview by noting how nice Chris Benoit had always been to him, pondering on how he would always shake his hand, and chat a little about Nancy. He had spoken to Chris only two weeks ago, with no hint of any distress on Benoit’s part. The tragedy, he said, was like a real-life horror film.
Cops say wrestler killed family, self
Anabolic steroids found in the house
June 27, 2007
BY GREG BLUESTEIN
ATLANTA — Pro wrestler Chris Benoit strangled his wife, suffocated his 7-year-old son and placed a Bible next to their bodies before hanging himself by the pulley of a weightlifting machine, authorities said Tuesday.
Investigators found anabolic steroids in the house and want to know whether Benoit was unhinged by the bodybuilding drugs, which can cause paranoia, depression and explosive outbursts known as roid rage.
Autopsies showed all three died of asphyxiation, he said.
Nancy Benoit was killed Friday in an upstairs family room; her feet and wrists were bound and there was blood under her head, indicating a possible struggle, Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard said.
The son, Daniel, likely was killed late Saturday or early Sunday, said Ballard, who added that Daniel’s body was found in his bed.
Benoit apparently killed himself several hours or as much as a day later, Ballard said. His body was found in a downstairs weight room.
The prosecutor said he found it “bizarre” that the World Wrestling Entertainment star spread out the killings and appeared to remain in the house for up to a day with the bodies.
“I’m baffled about why anybody would kill a 7-year-old,” Ballard said.
Nancy Benoit filed for divorce in May 2003, saying their three-year union was irrevocably broken and alleging cruel treatment. But she dropped the complaint, as well as a request for a restraining order.
The WWE said on its Web site that it asked authorities to check on Benoit and his family after being alerted by friends who received “curious text messages sent by Benoit early Sunday.”
Nancy Benoit managed several wrestlers and went by the stage name Woman. The couple met when her then-husband drew up a script that had them in a relationship on World Championship Wrestling, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Just past midnight on Monday morning, a Wikipedia post on Chris Benoit’s bio page said that he missed Sunday’s PPV because of the death of his wife, Nancy. Authorities didn’t find the bodies of the Benoit family until over 14 hours later.
WK Analysis: PWTorch has received numerous emails about this over the past few days as it has become an Internet conspiracy theory launching point – and rightfully so. But because Wikipedia can be easily updated and changed by anyone, and since a prankster could have posted speculation at that time, it wasn’t considered highly newsworthy. However, Fox News has now reported that the post originated from Stamford, Conn. That is just enough to make this a serious reason to wonder who knew what and when.
UPDATED: The post has now apparently been traced to someone who has made previous prank posts, and who also may have been able to falsely make it appear as if Stamford was the originating IP location even if it wasn’t.
No matter whether it was a lucky guess from a random prankster or a sign that someone knew more long ahead of authorities, that detail is scintillating enough in the cable news world to give this story several more days, if not weeks, of legs to remain on the radar of hourly or daily updates.
The appearances wrestlers are making are becoming difficult to keep up with and report on in time, especially with all of the phone calls I’m making, but Debra – Steve Austin’s former wife (and Mongo McMichael’s former wife) – will be on Hannity and Colmes tonight on Fox Sports
Chris Benoit killing reported first on Wikipedia
By Mark Schliebs
June 29, 2007 11:55am
• Murder of wrestler’s wife reported before body found
• Wikipedia removed entry, alerted authorities
THE death of wrestler Chris Benoit’s wife was revealed on a Wikipedia article 14 hours before police discovered the bodies of the family.
The Wikipedia entry on the WWE wrestler was updated at 4am local time from a computer apparently in Connecticut. The user said Benoit had missed a fight due to his wife’s death.
But the investigating officer, Fayette County Sheriff deputy Lieutenant Tommy Pope, said that police found the family at 6.30pm local time.
“Chris Benoit was replaced by Johnny Nitro for the ECW Championship match at Vengeance, as Benoit was not there due to personal issues, stemming from the death of his wife Nancy,” the entry said.
Wikipedia said it was not known if police were investigating the entry.
“Wikinews has learned through an investigation that anonymous edits on the Wikipedia article Chris Benoit were added about the death of his wife Nancy Benoit 14 hours before police entered the Benoit home to find the former professional World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Canadian wrestler and his family dead,” Wikiepedia said in a statement.
Volunteer coordinator for the Wikimedia Foundation Cary Bass said it was thought that the edit was “unreliable” at the time, but it wasn’t until police found the bodies that it was discovered that the information was true.
“It didn’t become apparent until someone put the pieces together and realized that the comment was made by someone who apparently knew about the murders,” Bass said.
Benoit, 40, strangled his wife, smothered his seven-year-old son and then hanged himself from his gym equipment, police have said. Their bodies were found inside their mansion in Fayetteville, Georgia, an Atlanta suburb.