Police Paint Grisly Picture of Benoit Home
Steroids Found in House; Copies of the Bible Next to Benoit's Dead Wife and Son
Pro wrestler Chris Benoit asphyxiated his son and wife, leaving copies of the Bible next to each of their bodies, before he hanged himself in a basement weight room using a cord from one of the weight machines, law enforcement officials said Tuesday afternoon.
Police ruled the deaths a murder-suicide a day after discovering Benoit, his wife, Nancy, and their 7-year-old son, Daniel, dead in the family's suburban Atlanta home.
"We are looking at this case and ruling it as a double homicide-suicide," Lt. Tommy Pope of the Fayette County Sheriff's Office said during a press conference outside the Benoit house.
Pope, relying on preliminary autopsy results from the state crime lab, laid out a roughly 24-hour timeline that began Friday with the 40-year-old wrestler killing his wife in an upstairs family room.
Nancy Benoit was bound, had blood under her head and was wrapped in a towel, Pope said. Fayette Count District Attorney Scott Ballard described the state of her body -- face down on the hardwood floor -- as "the only sign of a struggle."
"Her hands were bound together, her feet were bound together and there was a little blood over her face," Ballard told ABC News in an interview after the press conference. "The medical examiner found bruising on the small of her back and bruising on the front of her body consistent with being crushed up against the floor."
Police said Benoit then asphyxiated their son early Saturday morning. The boy was found face down in his bed, and there were no handmarks on his neck, Ballard said.
Benoit killed himself in the basement either late Saturday or early Sunday. Ballard said the wrestler, listed as 5 feet 10 inches, and weighing 220 pounds, was found hanging by his neck from a weight machine.
"There was no type of suicide note within the house that we located," Pope said. There was also no sign of forced entry or evidence of any type of burglary attempt.
Authorities said they currently have no motive for the crime, adding that they will await the results of toxicology reports and will investigate computers and telephones found in the Benoit home.
Officials found many different prescription medications -- including prescription anabolic steroids -- inside the house, but Pope said they seemed to be legally prescribed to Benoit. The final toxicology reports could take up to two weeks to complete.
The World Wrestling Entertainment released a statement Tuesday evening scrutinizing media accounts the organization felt unfairly tied Benoit's alleged murder-suicide to "'roid rage," a short-tempered condition associated with steroid usage.
The statement claimed that Benoit tested negative in an independently administered steroid test April 10, 2007, part of a two-pronged Talent Wellness Program introduced on Feb. 27, 2006, that included an "aggressive substance abuse and drug-testing policy.
"The physical findings announced by authorities indicate deliberation, not rage," the statement read, pointing out details released by police like long periods of time between each murder and the presence of a Bible next to each of the bodies.
The WWE substance policy "prohibits the nonmedical use and associate abuse of prescription medications and performance-enhancing drugs," according to a release from the pro wrestling organization.
Under the policy, every wrestler was reportedly tested to create "baseline" data. Wrestlers would not be punished for failing the baseline tests but could face suspensions and possible termination after multiple failures.
In March 2007, Sports Illustrated reported that 11 professional wrestlers had joined the list of athletes tied to a national steroid probe. At the time, WWE spokesman Gary Davis told the magazine that the organization had a policy prohibiting performance-enhancing drugs but would not say if any wrestlers had tested positive since the program was introduced.
Wade Keller, founder of PWTorch.com, a professional wrestling Web site, said that steroid use is simply part of the WWE culture. "It's considered the price you pay to be a pro wrestler," Keller said, placing the blame for rampant steroid use in part on Vince McMahon, the chairman of the WWE board.
"The No. 1 guy who runs this industry has a body fetish," Keller said. "He's obsessed with bodies, and he's always pushing muscular guys to the top because they have that comic-book image."
McMahon faced a federal indictment on steroid-related charges in the early 1990s but was acquitted when the case went to trial in 1994.