clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

This Day in Wrestling History (June 25): The Benoit Double Murder-Suicide

Today's TDIPWH is presented in two parts. The first part focuses other major events of the day including John Cena's WWE debut, WCW invading Madison Square Garden, and two King of the Ring events. This part will focus on perhaps the most tragic event in wrestling history, certainly of the 21st century, the Chris Benoit double murder-suicide.

Barry Williams/Getty Images

NOTE: The events of June 22-25, 2007 has always been a hot button topic among wrestling fans. If you must discuss the events of this time period related to this event, please do so responsibly.

9 years ago today, the bodies of Chris Benoit, his wife Nancy, and his son Daniel were found in their home in Fayetteville, Georgia. They were aged 40, 43, and 7 respectively.

Nancy's body was found in an upstairs bedroom wrapped in a towel with her feet and wrists bound. Her asphyxiated body was found with a Bible beside her. Daniel's body was found in his bedroom, also with a Bible by his body. Daniel was asphyxiated. Chris' body was found hung from a pulley using a weight machine cord used as a makeshift noose around Benoit's neck.

The discovery of the bodies were that Monday afternoon by the Fayetteville County Sheriff's Department after they were altered of text messages sent to then-WWE's Senior Vice-President of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis, Chavo Guerrero, and Scott Armstrong to check on the Benoit household. Chris had missed Vengeance: Night of Champions the night before due to what WWE called at the time "personal reasons".

After news of the discovery, WWE canceled the evening's RAW, a three-hour episode centered around the "funeral" of Mr. McMahon. In fact, it was McMahon himself, back from the "dead", that made the shocking announcement to home audiences in an empty arena.

WWE issued the following press releases on their website, the first issued soon after the bodies were discovered, the second as the tribute show, a broadcast version of the Benoit DVD, Hard Knocks: The Chris Benoit Story was in progress.

"WWE is sad to report that Chris Benoit and his family have been found dead in their home. Police are currently investigating the circumstances surrounding the deaths. Tonight's Raw will be a tribute to Chris and his family."

WWE(R) Superstar Chris Benoit Found Dead

STAMFORD, CT, June 25 /CNW/ - World Wrestling Entertainment was informed today by authorities in Fayetteville County, Ga., that WWE Superstar Chris Benoit, his wife, Nancy, and his son were found dead in their home. Authorities are investigating, but no other details are available at this time.

Instead of its announced programming for tonight on USA Network, WWE will air a three-hour tribute to Chris Benoit.

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.

Carl DeMarco, President of WWE Canada, added, "I am deeply saddened over the loss of Chris Benoit. My heartfelt thoughts and sympathy go out to his parents and family. My relationship with Chris has extended many years and I consider him a great friend. Chris was always first-class - warm, friendly, caring and professional... one of the best in our business."

Near the show's conclusion, ABC News reported via Fayetteville County Sheriff''s Department's Lt. Tommy Pope that their deaths were being investigated as a possible murder-suicide, saying that the instruments of death were located on the scene, leading WWE to post this announcement on their website:


It has been ruled that the deaths of Chris Benoit, his wife Nancy and their son Daniel earlier today were the result of a double murder-suicide from within the home. will have more as soon as it becomes available.

Ultimately, law enforcement in Fayetteville County came to the conclusion that it was indeed a double murder-suicide, with Chris killing his wife and son before on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning respectively before hanging himself early Sunday morning.

The response from WWE was immediate, with the company choosing to distance themselves from Benoit. Other than a brief statement from WWE Chairman Vince McMahon on ECW the next night, there has been no mention of Benoit on WWE programming since. Nearly all mentions of Benoit, including news articles, biography, photos, and video tributes, were removed from the website (his title history remains, however, though summaries of his title reigns were removed).

International markets received either substitute programming for that week, or in markets where WWE programming was delayed, all Benoit matches were edited out. His merchandise was pulled, and all archived footage involving Chris Benoit (and for a while, Nancy as well) was removed from WWE Classics on Demand (WWE eventually reversed course on footage involving Nancy). His signature maneuvers were removed from the 2008 and 2009 editions of their video game, Smackdown vs. Raw. Though never explicitly stated, Benoit's Crossface was banned from WWE for about a year and a half before Triple H and Shawn Michaels began using the maneuver occasionally beginning in late 2008.

With the death related to steroid use, the WWE came under investigation from the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform regarding their Wellness Policy. Though their study found that 40% of their roster were found to have tested positive for steroids or other drugs, no action was taken against the company. WWE themselves issued a statement challenging claims that steroid abuse contributed to his actions just days after the bodies were discovered:

The physical findings announced by authorities indicate deliberation, not rage. The wife's feet and hands were bound and she was asphyxiated, not beaten to death. By the account of the authorities, there were substantial periods of time between the death of the wife and the death of the son, again suggesting deliberate thought, not rage. The presence of a Bible by each is also not an act of rage.

Numerous reasons have emerged as to what led to the incident, including steroid abuse, brain damage (tests conducted on Benoit's brain revealed that it was so damaged it resembled an Alzheimer's patient in his mid-80s and he had severe CTE), and a failing marriage (Nancy had filed for divorce in February 2003, but withdrew the filing a few months later; the Atlanta Journal-Constitution also alleged that Nancy may have suspected her husband was having an affair).

Many fans believed that the double murder-suicide was a tipping point for change in WWE programming. Chairshots to the head were banned soon after; use of foul language, blood, or other adult situations would be limited to nonexistent, and the WWE Wellness Policy would soon be amended and be more strictly enforced (case in point: ten wrestlers were suspended just two and a half months after the murder after they were found to have purchased performance enhancing drugs online; Benoit was also have found to have bought drugs from the same online pharmacy).

Chris Benoit's matches are available via WWE's video-on-demand service, the WWE Network; however, all videos involving Benoit open with a disclaimer:

The following program is presented in its original form. It may contain some content that does not reflect WWE's corporate views and may not be suitable for all viewers. WWE characters are ficticious and do not reflect the personal lives of the actors portraying them. Viewer discretion advised.

A biopic based on Benoit's life was set for a 2012 release, but the movie is still in production as of September 2015.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Cageside Seats Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your pro wrestling news from Cageside Seats