Chris Benoit PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 16 October 2008 11:16
An image of Chris Benoit.

Christopher Michael Benoit

Born: May 21, 1967, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Died: June 24, 2007 Fayetteville, Georgia, U.S.

Age: 40

Cause of death: Suicide by hanging.

Notable because: Killed his wife and 7 year old son before hanging himself.


Christopher Michael Benoit  was a Canadian professional wrestler who, in 2007 received extensive media coverage as a result of being the perpetrator of a double-murder suicide in which he killed his wife and child, then himself, over the span of a weekend. In professional wrestling, he is most remembered for his work in Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), World Championship Wrestling (WCW), and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). During his highly successful career with those companies, Benoit won a multitude of championships including the WWE and WCW World Heavyweight Championships, as well as winning the 2004 Royal Rumble. Benoit was generally regarded as one of the most popular, respected and technically gifted performers in the history of professional wrestling.

On June 25, 2007, Benoit, his wife Nancy, and their 7-year-old son Daniel were found dead in their Fayetteville, Georgia, home at around 2:30 p.m. EDT.  Lieutenant Tommy Pope of the Fayette County, Georgia Sheriff's Department reported to ABC News that police entered Benoit's home on a "welfare check" after several missed appointments, leading to concerns. Pope also stated the police were not searching for any suspects outside of the house, as the instruments of death were located at the scene of the crime. Detective Bo Turner of the Fayette County Sheriff's Department told television station WAGA-TV that the case was being treated as a murder-suicide. The station reported that investigators had discovered, and would eventually cite as an official ruling, that Benoit murdered his wife and son over the weekend and hanged himself sometime on Monday.

It was first reported to fans of WWE on their WWE Mobile Alerts Service and posted to their official website soon after. On their website, World Wrestling Entertainment released the following statement:

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.

WWE canceled the scheduled three hour long live Raw show on June 25, and replaced the broadcast version with a tribute to his life and career, featuring his past matches, segments from the Hard Knocks: The Chris Benoit Story DVD, and comments from wrestlers and announcers.

However, once the details of the events became apparent, WWE quickly and quietly began distancing itself from the wrestler by removing merchandise and no longer mentioning him.

Media accusations of steroid use and "roid-rage" quickly surfaced after the killings, prompting negative publicity against WWE and professional wrestling overall. Toxicology reports released on July 17, 2007 revealed that at their time of death, Nancy Benoit had three different drugs in her system: Xanax, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone, all of which were found at the therapeutic rather than toxic levels. Daniel Benoit was found to have Xanax in his system, which led the chief medical examiner, Kris Sperry, to believe that he was sedated before he was murdered. Chris Benoit was found to have Xanax, hydrocodone, and an elevated level of testosterone, caused by a synthetic form of testosterone, in his system. The chief medical examiner attributed the testosterone level to Benoit possibly being treated for a deficiency caused by previous steroid abuse. There was no indication that anything in Chris' body contributed to his violent behavior that led to the murder-suicide, concluding that there was no "roid-rage" involved.

On August 30, 2007, it was reported that Benoit had been given illegal steroids not in compliance with WWE's Talent Wellness Program in February 2006. Benoit received nandrolone and anastrozole. During the investigation, it was also revealed that Eddie Guerrero and Brian Adams had also been given steroids prior to their deaths, as well as former WWE superstar Sylvain Grenier‎ and eleven other WWE superstars, who were suspended in accordance with the WWE Talent Wellness program.

After the double-murder suicide, former wrestler Chris Nowinski contacted Michael Benoit, father of Chris Benoit, suggesting that years of trauma to his son's brain may have led to his actions. Tests were conducted on Benoit's brain by Julian Bailes, the head of neurosurgery at West Virginia University, and results showed that "Benoit's brain was so severely damaged it resembled the brain of an 85-year-old Alzheimer's patient." He was reported to have had an advanced form of dementia, similar to the brains of four retired NFL players who had suffered multiple concussions, sank into depression and harmed themselves or others. Bailes and his colleagues concluded that repeated concussions can lead to dementia, which can contribute to severe behavioral problems. Benoit's father suggests that brain damage may have been the leading cause of the crime. He also confirmed that his son was quietly cremated, but what was done with the ashes is not public knowledge.

WSB-TV in Atlanta, Georgia obtained the last known photograph of Chris Benoit. The photo was taken in the office of Dr. Phil Astin, on Friday June 22, 2007, mere hours before the murders.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 December 2008 16:35

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