AS I SEE IT 6/23: One year ago

Bob Magee
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets

A year ago, one of the biggest stories in the history of professional wrestling happened.

It's a story we never expected....a story we couldn't have believed would happen....and an act committed by a person we would have never believed could have been the person responsible.

Some of the facts outlined in the column written last year have changed.

We know now that Daniel Benoit may not have had Fragile X Syndrome as was thought.

We know that Chris Benoit's slide into the person who committed the acts of June 2007 had multiple causes, including concussion-related syndrome, drug use, and steroid use; not just one.

WWE has upped its drug testing since the Benoit murder-suicide. They ewen test for marijuana. But they've now developed result an increase of DUI arrests. This, while making no changes in their in-ring style or travel schedule.

Something else they haven't dealt with is the issue of concussions, and have basically banished Chris Nowinski from any WWE-related activities, because of the work he does on the subject. It was work they publicized before the Benoit incident. As soon as Chris Benoit's father andothers brought it up as a possible cause for Benoit's behavior, Nowinski becamse personna non grata.

But here's the way I talked about it, nearly a year ago.

Say a prayer for Nancy and Daniel Benoit...and for us all.


I am absolutely numb as I write this.

I'll never again be able to be puzzled at someone on my television who says about another of the all-too-frequent murders in neighboring Philadelphia..."How could they have done this? They were such a quiet person."

Because we now all have seen and/or know someone like that.
Chris Benoit.

As we have all gone through the seemingly endless lunatic newsreel of shock, sadness, then rage at the various revelations of the last 36 hours, here are the facts as they are known as of this writing.

The deaths of Chris Benoit, Nancy Benoit-Toffolini, and Daniel Benoit were ruled late Monday by local police to be the result of a double murder-suicide from within the home.

Numerous media and police reports have made clear that Chris Benoit murdered his wife Nancy sometime on late Friday/early Saturday by strangulation with an electrical cord, before taking his son Daniel's life by smothering him with a bag sometime late early Saturday, and finally his own by suicide on Sunday by hanging via a pulley/cord attached to his weight machine. Benoit’s body was found in a weight room, Nancy’s was found in the living room, and son Daniel was found in his bedroom.

The timeline of events as presented by WWE indicates that Benoit was initially scheduled to appear at the WWE SmackDown/ ECW house show on June 23 in Beaumont, TX. At 3:30 pm, an unnamed co-worker (believed to be Chavo Guerrero) received a voice message from Benoit. Benoit indicated that he had overslept, missed his flight and would be late to the show. The co-worker called Benoit back, Benoit confirmed everything he said in his voice message, sounding "tired and groggy". Benoit made a rather odd statement in context, saying "I love you".

The co-worker, feeling something didn't sound quite right, called back Benoit...then got a call back by Benoit claiming he didn’t answer the call because he was on the phone with Delta changing his flight. Benoit excused his absence, claiming he had a real stressful day due to Nancy and Daniel being sick with food poisoning. All the while he was talking to this co-worker, Benoit still sounded "groggy".

An hour later, a co-worker who consistently travels with Benoit, called Benoit from outside Houston Airport with Benoit answering, saying that Nancy was throwing up blood and that Daniel was also throwing up, which Benoit attributed to food poisoning. Benoit then told the co-worker he had changed his flight and he would be arriving into Houston at 6:30 pm. Benoit told the co-worker to go ahead alone and drive to the WWE Beaumont show.

At 5:35 pm, Benoit called WWE Talent Relations again making the claim about his wife and son having food poisoning, but in this version stating that his son was throwing up and that he and Nancy were in the hospital with their son. Benoit said he would take a later flight into Houston, landing late, but would make the WWE live event in Beaumont. At 6:10 pm, Talent Relations called Benoit, who indicated he was leaving Atlanta at 9:20 pm Eastern time arriving into Houston at 9:24 pm Central time.

The representative from Talent Relations advised Benoit that it would be too late to make the WWE live event in Beaumont. Benoit apologized, citing a "family emergency". The Talent Relations representative suggested to Benoit to simply take the flight to Houston, rest up and be ready for the Vengeance Pay-Per-View event.

On Sunday, June 24, a number of text messages were sent to to the same two co-workers who'd spoken to Benoit the day before from the cell phones of Chris Benoit and Nancy Benoit.

A text message was sent from Benoit’s cell phone at 3:53 am saying "My physical address is 130 Green Meadow Lane. Fayetteville Georgia. 30215". Ten minutes later, another text message was sent from Benoit’s cell phone "The dogs are in the enclosed pool area. Garage side door is open".

Benoit repeated the first text message a minute later, then two minutes later from Nancy's cell phone saying "My physical address is 130 Green Meadow Lane. Fayetteville Georgia. 30215", and a third message repeating this at at 3:58 am to another unnamed co-worker.

WWE then made several attempts to contact Benoit via phone and text messages, as well as, the local hospitals in the Atlanta area. As of 11:00 pm Sunday night there was no contact made with Benoit.

On Monday, June 25, at 12:30 pm, WWE was notified of text messages sent to the two co-workers. Fifteen minutes later, WWE contacted the Fayetteville County Sheriff’s office and requested them to go to Benoit’s residence.

At 4:00 pm, WWE was notified by the Fayetteville County Sheriff’s office that they had; after some difficulty getting onto the Benoit property Monday afternoon, due to the German Shepherds walking around the property; entered the Benoit's house and found the bodies of Chris, Nancy, and Daniel Benoit; that they had secured the house as a "major crime scene".

Those are the facts.

There has been wild speculation all over the media about "steroid rage", past domestic issues between Chris and Nancy Benoit, and wrestling as a whole.

From all reasonable evidence, the Benoit family tragedy was not due to solely a single episode of steroid rage, as the irresponsible media such as Nancy Grace and Bill O'Reilly have suggested.

It is possible that the tragedy was due to long-term effects of Benoit's steroid use, as there have been sources that have outlined changes in Benoit's personality within the last year, including episodes of paranoia. It is also possible that there was added strain in the family due to health issues with son Daniel who has both issues with limited growth, and a illness called Fragile X syndrome; which may have accentuated whatever issues Benoit had due to possible long-term steroid use.

None of those issues are excuses, nor even explanations for this inexcusable, inexplicable crime, but are merely evidence as a part of the whole.

I've had co-workers at the proprietary school at which I work (most of whom had no interest in wrestling, but were aware that I own asking me all day yesterday about this tragedy. I had and have few answers to give them then, or now.

The only things that are sure are these: the greatest wrestler of my lifetime, a wrestler who was my favorite is a murderer, and dead by his own hand. A wife and mother are dead. A child is dead. Many of us who were fans of Chris Benoit and believed they knew him feel stunned, shocked, and angry as what he's done.

We have to acknowledge Chris Benoit's far-reaching role as a wrestler (and I believe WWE is wrong in trying to erase Benoit's role altogether from their online pages)...but we don't ever have to give the man Chris Benoit a moment of tribute. He killed two innocent people and killed himself. God will judge him for that.

May God, if you believe in a God, give you some peace as a fan who feels as violated as I do. May that same God give peace to the souls of Nancy and Daniel Benoit.

Until next time...

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