MIAMI (Reuters) - Professional wrestling superstar Chris Benoit killed his wife and 7-year-old son before hanging himself from his weight machine, authorities said on Tuesday.
Investigators said the murder-suicide happened over Friday and Saturday in the suburban Atlanta home where the bodies of Benoit, his wife and young son were found on Monday.
Nicknamed “The Rabid Wolverine” and “The Canadian Crippler,” Benoit had canceled two events in Texas over the weekend citing an undisclosed “family emergency,” his employer, World Wrestling Entertainment, said on its Web site.
Benoit then sent “several curious text messages” to friends early Sunday morning and this prompted authorities to check on him and his family at their home, the statement said.
Autopsy results showed that Benoit first murdered his wife, Nancy. She was bound at the feet and wrists and died of asphyxiation sometime on Friday, Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard told a news conference.
She was wrapped in a towel and some blood was found under her head but Ballard said there were no other signs of a struggle.
The couple’s son, who also died of asphyxia, was apparently killed as he lay in bed on Saturday morning, hours before Benoit hung himself, Ballard said.
“It was the cord from the weights,” he said, describing how Benoit managed to strangle himself.
Benoit left no suicide note but placed bibles alongside the bodies of his wife and son, Ballard added.
“In a community like this it’s bizarre just to have a murder-suicide and certainly involving the death of a 7-year-old child,” said Ballard. “I don’t think we’ll ever be able to wrap our minds around that completely.”
Lt. Tommy Pope of the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department said it could be several weeks before toxicology reports were available. But he said anabolic steroids were among the prescription drugs found in Benoit’s house.
In some cases, use of muscle-building steroids has been linked by U.S. health officials to uncontrolled outbursts of anger or combativeness.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution said the Benoits had lived together since 1997 and were married in 2000 but separated about the same time Nancy Benoit filed for divorce in May 2003.
In an accompanying petition, the newspaper said Nancy Benoit had sought protection from domestic abuse, claiming she was intimidated by threats of violence from her husband.
She later filed to have the divorce and protective petitions dismissed.
Benoit began his career in his native Canada more than 20 years ago and wrestled in Japan before moving back to North America.