The Horrific Crime Scenes Of WWE Star Chris Benoit And His Family

Content warning: The following article includes graphic details of acts of violence, including against a child. 

Everyone who knew Chris Benoit praised his insane work ethic, grit, and determination. They all remarked on what a nice guy he was. Those closest to him expected that his name would one day live alongside the greats of pro wrestling when he was inevitably inducted into the Hall of Fame. Instead, what they got was a complicated and controversial legacy, one forever mired in tragedy and sorrow from an unspeakable act that has left behind a profound sense of grief that's reverberated far into the present decade.

Those closest to Chris Benoit noticed a drastic change in his personality in the months preceding the tragedy. After all, he had been devastated by the sudden loss of his brother-in-arms, fellow WWE wrestler Eddie Guerrero, who died of a heart attack in his hotel room at the age of 38. This grief would send Benoit into a tailspin from which he would never recover (via VICE).

His family noted an increase in mood swings, as well as a tendency to become more taciturn and withdrawn. Family squabbles became so common that his wife, Nancy Benoit, who had previously recorded Benoit's extreme temper in court filings, had requested a restraining order against him in 2003 but subsequently rescinded it, according to the Los Angeles Times. A grueling work and touring schedule, along with deteriorating mental health and increased domestic tension, eventually led to Benoit finally snapping over a weekend of horrors on June 22nd to the 24th, 2007 (via The New York Times).

A Weekend of Horrors

Although the exact sequence of these atrocious acts will never be known, forensic investigators and autopsies have established a broad timeline of the weekend's events. On Friday, June 22nd, Chris Benoit savagely attacked and overpowered his wife Nancy in their home in Fayetteville, Georgia. Nancy tried to fight him off but to no avail.

He shackled her limbs, brutally pressed his knee into her back, and strangled her to death by wrapping a rope and a co-axial cord multiple times around her neck, according to Nancy's autopsy report (via Autopsy Files). He then wrapped her in a towel and placed a Bible next to her body, where it remained for another three days (per ABC News). On Saturday 23rd, Benoit called a buddy, Chavo Guerrero, and told him he wouldn't be able to participate in a show later that day because his wife and son were violently ill with food poisoning.

It's estimated that 7-year-old Daniel Benoit was killed around 3:30 p.m. on Saturday due to Daniel's body being less deteriorated than his mother's when it was discovered. Chris Benoit used Xanax to sedate his young son before suffocating him using a wrestling move, which was determined by the bruising on the child's body, according to the Sun-Sentinel. He placed another Bible near his son's body (via CNN). The next day, Benoit went into his basement home gym where he died by suicide from hanging according to the LA Times.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Discovery and Aftermath

On the day he took his own life, Benoit was slated to wrestle at a Pay-Per-View that evening. Concerns arose when Benoit could no longer be reached after missing two events. WWE officials were also informed that Benoit had sent five SMS messages to several colleagues and friends from both his and Nancy's phones before going off the grid. The WWE then contacted a detective who was dispatched to do a "welfare check" (via ABC News).

Instead, the police sent a neighbor in to check on the Benoit family because she was previously acquainted with the family's two German Shepherds. When Daniel's body was discovered face down on his bed, Benoit's neighbor ran screaming out of the home and the police entered the home (per VICE).

The house was immediately designated as a crime scene, and an investigation was launched. The WWE, and particularly Vince McMahon, hadn't yet learned all of the information of the awful circumstances surrounding this heart-breaking murder-suicide and hastily put together a three-hour tribute program on Benoit that Monday night (per Fox News). However, as more devastating details emerged, shockwaves of despair, disbelief, grief, and trauma shook Benoit's closest friends and family, and the broader wrestling community. These discoveries eventually drew the attention of the world's media, who flocked to the Benoit home in search of answers. 

The same question was on everybody's lips; why? Everyone who knew Benoit knew how much he loved his family; how could he have done something so heinous?

Understanding the Unfathomable

Initially, it was speculated that Benoit's steroid abuse led to 'roid rage'. However, the WWE severely downplayed this possibility, even pointing to the manner in which Benoit had orchestrated his horrific crimes over a span of days as evidence that they weren't the result of some rabid, 'flying off the handle' incident of roid rage (per ABC News). 

After all, Benoit had placed Bibles beside both bodies, and a county police investigation had shown that Benoit had researched the narrative of the Prophet Elijah raising a child from the dead before he ended his own life (per another ABC News article).

While an autopsy indicated that Benoit had very high levels of testosterone in his body, analyzing Benoit's brain yielded a far more shocking result. An examination of Benoit's brain revealed that he had extremely severe Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). CTE, according to the Concussion Foundation, ”is a degenerative brain disease found in athletes, military veterans, and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma.”

One physician would famously remark that Benoit's brain resembled that of an 85-year-old patient with advanced Alzheimer's (via ESPN). After all, Benoit was renowned for having an insanely purist attitude among his fellow wrestlers. His signature move involved flinging himself headfirst from the top of the turnbuckle to headbutt his opponents.

Furthermore, his professional attitude would see him continuing to work even when he had concussions. Throughout his career, Benoit would unflinchingly absorb shots to the head with steel chairs (via The New York Times).

The Truth Is Complicated

However, can brain damage alone explain Benoit's behavior? Those closest to Benoit also describe the crippling emotional problems that Benoit was experiencing as a result of taking excess hormones and navigating alone through the grief of his best friend (via VICE). Furthermore, Benoit's growing paranoia was so severe in the months leading up to his death that he would continuously change his route to the gym and the airport (via Wrestling Inc).

How much did these drive his actions that weekend? Some discoveries at the crime scene, including a half-drunk bottle of wine by his body, and a brief suicide note found within the pages of a bible indicate that alcohol consumption and suicidal ideation both played a part in the buildup to this awful outcome (via Wrestling Inc).

While the true motives of Benoit's unforgivable actions over that weekend are still shrouded in mystery, the facts are these: Benoit's abhorrent murder-suicide continues to cause a ripple effect of pain to his family and friends that have survived it, and the lifelong sacrifice of his body for his art has effectively amounted to nothing, as he has been "essentially erased" from the annals of WWE history (per Bleacher Report).

(If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.