Steroids eyed in deaths of wrestler, kin

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. — Pro wrestler Chris Benoit strangled his wife, suffocated his 7-year-old son and placed a Bible next to their bodies before hanging himself with the pulley of a weightlifting machine, authorities said yesterday.

Investigators found prescription anabolic steroids in the house and want to know whether Benoit was unhinged by the drugs, which can cause paranoia, depression and explosive outbursts.

Authorities offered no motive for the killings, which were spread out over a weekend, and would not discuss Benoit’s motive or state of mind. No suicide note was found.

“I’m baffled about why anybody would kill a 7-year-old,” District Attorney Scott Ballard said. “I don’t think we’ll ever be able wrap our head around that.”

Benoit, a Montreal native whose nickname was “the Canadian Crippler,” was one of the stars of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) circuit and was known for his wholesome family- man image. His wife, Nancy, was a wrestling stage manager who worked under the name “Woman.”

When he won the world heavyweight championship, Benoit hoisted the belt over his head and invited his wife and son into the ring to celebrate.

Nevertheless, Mrs. Benoit filed for a divorce in 2003, saying the couple’s three-year marriage was irrevocably broken and claiming “cruel treatment.”

She later dropped the complaint, as well as a request for a restraining order in which she charged that the 5-foot-10-inch, 220-pound Benoit had threatened her and had broken furniture in their home.

The bodies were found Monday afternoon in three rooms of the house, off a gravel road.

Mrs. Benoit, 43, was killed Friday in an upstairs family room, authorities said. Her feet and wrists were bound and there was blood under her head, indicating a possible struggle, Mr. Ballard said.

Daniel was probably killed late Saturday or early Sunday, and his body was found in his bed, he said.

Benoit, 40, apparently killed himself several hours and as long as a day later, Mr. Ballard said. His body was found in a downstairs weight room hanging from the pulley of a piece of exercise equipment.

Toxicology test results may not be available for weeks or even months, he said. As for whether steroids played a role in the crime, he said: “We don’t know yet. That’s one of the things we’ll be looking at.”

Neighbors said the Benoits led a low-key lifestyle.

“We would see Chris walking in his yard from time to time. He wasn’t rude, but he wasn’t really outwardly warm,” said Alaina Jones, who lives across the street.

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