Christopher Michael "Chris" Benoit (May 21st, 1967 - June 24th, 2007) was a Canadian-American professional wrestler who enjoyed a 22-year career with promotions such as Extreme Championship Wrestling, World Championship Wrestling, and World Wrestling Entertainment, where he was a one-time World Heavyweight Champion. Benoit was regarded by many as one of the best workers in his profession.
During a three-day period in June 2007 (June 22 to 24) Benoit murdered his wife, Nancy, and their 9-year old son, Daniel, before committing suicide by hanging himself from a weight machine. Since then, WWE have refused any mention of Benoit or his accomplishments. Benoit's reasons for committing these actions remain unknown to this day.
Benoit murdered his wife, Nancy Benoit, on Friday, June 22. Her limbs were bound, and her body was wrapped in a towel. A copy of the Bible was left by her body. Injuries indicated that Benoit had pressed a knee into her back while pulling on a cord around her neck, causing strangulation.
The following day, Benoit murdered their son, Daniel. Benoit sedated him using Xanax and suffocated him. Like Nancy, a copy of the Bible was placed next to his body.
In between the two murders, Benoit's close friend, fellow wrestler Chavo Guerrero, received a voicemail message from Benoit's phone stating that he had overslept and missed his flight and would be late for that night's house show in Beaumont, Texas. Guerrero called Benoit back and found that 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 12 minutes later. Benoit did not answer the call, and Guerrero left a message asking Benoit to call back. Benoit did so, lying to Chavo and saying he was changing his flight and also saying that his wife and son were sick with food poisoning. Benoit ended the conversation by saying "I love you" to Chavo, which Chavo has stated in interviews was out of character for him.
On Sunday, June 24, 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; the fifth said that the family's dogs were in the enclosed pool area, and also noted that a garage side door had been left open. That day, Benoit had been scheduled to wrestle at WWE's Vengeance: Night of Champions pay-per-view event and win the vacant ECW World Heavyweight Championship against Phillip "CM Punk" Brooks. When Benoit didn't make it to the pay-per-view, John "Johnny Nitro" Hennigan filled in for him.
Benoit committed suicide later that day by hanging himself from his weight machine. According to investigators, he created a noose from the end of the cord from which the bar had been removed. When he released the weights, his neck had been broken almost instantly.
The WWE became worried when they hadn't heard from Benoit the following day. They contacted the Fayette County Sheriff's Department and requested that they conduct a welfare check, whereupon they discovered the bodies of the three Benoits. A suicide note was not discovered during the initial investigation, but a note was later discovered in another Bible that had been included in Benoit's possessions that were sent to his first wife. According to professional wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer, "There was a note that was found in a Bible by the mother of Chris's two children (Martina Benoit) who lives in Canada. The Bible was mixed in with Chris' personal belongings that were shipped to them." Chris Benoit's father Michael Benoit stated, "He had a hand-written notation in there saying 'I'm preparing to leave this Earth.'
WWE cancelled their regular broadcast of Monday Night Raw that night and instead aired a 3-hour long tribute show to Benoit. However, the company got the news later that same night that the case was being considered a murder-suicide. On the following day's broadcast of ECW, company chairman Vince McMahon announced that there would be "no more mention of Mr. Benoit tonight", and since then, Benoit's name and accomplishments have never been mentioned on WWE programming again.
Benoit's exact motives for committing the murder-suicide remain a mystery. Many who were close to Benoit, both inside and outside the wrestling business, were at a loss to explain Benoit's actions and still are to this day.
Autopsy revealed that Benoit's brain was in catastrophically bad condition, and that it resembled the brain of an 85-year old Alzheimer's patient. This has been explained as due to being from multiple untreated concussions suffered during his wrestling career; he had been known frequently take unprotected chair shots to his head, which is considered very unwise in professional wrestling. Other tests conducted on Benoit's brain tissue revealed severe chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and damage to all four lobes of the brain and brain stem. Benoit's father said that brain damage may have been the leading cause of the double murder-suicide.
Two years previously, fellow professional wrestler Eddie Guerrero, who was Benoit's best friend in the wrestling business, tragically and suddenly passed away due to heart failure caused by undiagnosed heart disease. Benoit was deeply affected by Guerrero's passing and reportedly fell into a deep depression afterwards. This could have been a contributing factor to Benoit's actions.
Nancy Benoit had filed for divorce in May 2003, allegedly after domestic abuse from Chris, but had withdrawn it in August 2003. In February 2008, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reported that Nancy may have suspected her husband of having an affair with a female WWE wrestler, 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.
Some have claimed that the incident was a result of a steroid-induced rage, as some doctors have linked steroid use to uncontrollable anger, among other psychological issues which include paranoia. Even though steroids were found in the Benoit home, this is not likely, as "roid-rage" typically does not last for any longer than a few minutes.
The bibles found by the bodies of Nancy, Daniel, and Chris himself have been explained as possible remorse on Chris' part after committing the murders of his wife and son; that, after he killed Nancy and Daniel, he placed bibles beside their bodies out of remorse. Former pro wrestler-turned evangelical minister Ted DiBiase (known by his in-ring persona "The Million Dollar Man") speculated this on an episode of Larry King Live.