World Wrestling Entertainment star Chris Benoit strangled his wife and then smothered their 7-year-old son, Daniel, before hanging himself in the fitness room of his house, law officials told the Associated Press.
The three-person family was found inside their secluded home in Fayetteville, Georgia on Monday. District Attorney Scott Ballard said no motive has been uncovered, but admited, “When you’re talking about the death of a 7-year-old boy, what motive could there be?”
The circumstances surrounding the murders are bizarre, but Ballard says, “None of it takes away from the fact that it’s just a huge tragedy. I’m just blown away by the fact that a 7-year-old boy has been killed. We’re pretty confident that we’re taking about a murder-suicide.” Though he added, “We’re still investigating other possibilities, of course. We’re confident enough that we don’t want the public to think that a killer is at large. It does not appear to be that way.”
Investigators said they found prescription anabolic steroids in the home. Many wonder whether roid rage could have played a role in the tragedy. While toxicology results will take weeks, Ballard said, “That’s one of the things we’ll be looking at.”
Chris, 40, and Nancy, 43, married 2000, but trouble seemed to be brewing in early 2003 when Nancy filed a divorce petition and restraining order against her husband. The petition stated that Chris “lost his temper and threatened to strike [her] and cause extensive damage to the home and personal belongings of the parties, including furniture and furnishings.” The petition also mentioned that Nancy feared for son’s life.
A few months later, Nancy dismissed the petition and Ballard says there is no other knowledge of domestic violence or marital discord inside their home.
On Sunday, the day before the bodies were found, friends of the wrestler received curious text messages from his phone and contacted WWE. WWE then contacted the Sheriff’s department, asking them to check the home.
After learning of what occurred, the WWE canceled its live Monday Night RAW, and USA Network aired a three-hour tribute to Benoit in lieu of the scheduled wrestling telecast.
“WWE extends its sincerest thoughts and prayers to the Benoit family’s relatives and loved ones in this time of tragedy,” the federation posted in a statement on its Web site.