FRIDAY, JUNE 29, 2007
NEWS

June 26, 2007

Slain wife of wrestler a former DeLand High School student


The slain wife of professional wrestler Chris Benoit was a student at DeLand High School who entered the high-voltage world of pro wrestling while still answering phones for a local insurance agency.

In articles published more than 20 years ago, Nancy Benoit, better known by her in-ring names Woman and Fallen Angel, told The Daytona Beach News-Journal she entered the sport when she and her then-husband Jim Daus became friends with several wrestlers competing in Orlando.

Modeling jobs for wrestling magazines followed, until she teamed up with The Prince of Darkness, locally-based wrestler Kevin Sullivan, as his "valet" sidekick known as The Fallen Angel.

Nancy Benoit, 43, worked both sides of the rope in her career as a manager, valet and wrestler who endured her share of body slams and atomic knee drops.

Benoit met his wife in the 1990s when she was married to rival wrestler Kevin Sullivan. As part of the scripted rivalry, Benoit and Nancy Sullivan were supposed to act as if they were having an affair. A real romance blossomed, and she left Sullivan for Benoit.

Her ring life became real life when she married Benoit in 2000. In 2003, she filed for divorce from Benoit, alleging "cruel treatment," according to wrestling Web sites, but later dropped the suit.

In a News-Journal article published Feb. 10, 1986, Nancy Benoit contemplated her future in wrestling: "I don't know what's going to happen. You never know what to expect."

Jim Daus, Nancy Benoit's first husband and also a DeLand High School graduate, spoke in an interview Tuesday night by phone.

"I've had no contact with Nancy in about 6 1/2 years, and that was by e-mail about her (then-newborn) son Daniel," Daus said. "We've been divorced about 20 years."

Jim Daus said he grew up with Nancy Benoit, whose maiden name was Toffoloni -- having graduated in 1980 from DeLand High School.

"I never met Chris Benoit," said Daus, who said he got a call Monday night from several wrestling colleagues he hasn't talked to in years.

"I'm shocked," Daus said in reaction to his ex-wife's death. "It's a terrible thing that's happened."

Daus said he would like to attend the funeral of Nancy Benoit to have some "closure" and to "make amends." No funeral date has been announced.

Efforts to reach Kevin Sullivan on Tuesday were unsuccessful.

-- Staff Writers Cal Massey and Jeff Wilen and The Associated Press contributed to this report.