June 25, 2007
Death Comes a Day After Wrestler Canceled Pay-Per-View Appearance
Wrestling star Chris Benoit, his wife, Nancy, and their 7-year-old son Daniel were found dead in their suburban Atlanta home Monday. The deaths are being investigated as a possible suicide and double homicide, authorities told ABC News.
Lt. Tommy Pope of the Fayette County Sheriff's Department told ABC News that Benoit had missed several appointments over the weekend, leading concerned parties to ask police to do a "welfare check." When sheriffs arrived at the Benoits' home, they found the wrestler, his wife, and their son dead.
There were no signs of gunshot wounds or stabbing, according to Pope. Authorities are not ruling out other causes, such as poisoning, suffocation, or strangulation. Pope told ABC News that his department is looking at this situation as a "possible double murder, suicide."
Pope said "the instruments of death were located on scene," but would not specify what those instruments are or where in the house the bodies were found. Pope added the department is "not actively searching for any suspects outside of the house."
An autopsy has been scheduled for Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. However, it could be weeks before there is a result.
Benoit, 40, was scheduled to spar against C.M. Punk in a pay-per-view event Sunday night in Houston for the Extreme Champion Wrestling title. But Benoit canceled before the event, citing personal reasons.
A native of Edmonton, Alberta, Benoit was known in the ring as the "Canadian Crippler."
Following the announcement of the deaths, World Wrestling Entertainment issued a statement: "Chris was beloved among his fellow superstars, and was a favorite among WWE fans for his unbelievable athleticism and wrestling ability. He always took great pride in his performance, and always showed respect for the business he loved, for his peers and towards his fans. This is a terrible tragedy and an unbearable loss. WWE extends its sincere condolences and prayers to the Benoit family and loved ones in this time of tragedy."
WWE announced that it would drop its planned Monday night line-up on the USA Network to air a three-hour tribute to Benoit.
In a sport known for bravado and bullying, Benoit was very much beloved and respected by his peers. He was passionate about his profession and served as a mentor to many younger, up-and-coming performers. As an indication of how much the fans enjoyed him, when the crowd in Houston's Toyota Center learned Sunday night that he wouldn't be there, they chanted, "We want Benoit!"
Benoit's wife was also in the wrestling business as a valet and manager. She was known as "Woman." The two met while they both worked for the now-defunct World Championship Wrestling, which was owned by Ted Turner until Vince McMahon's WWE bought it out.