Official: Pro Wrestler Benoit Killed Family, Self

Fayetteville, GA (CBS/AP) - A law enforcement official close to the investigation tells The Associated Press that pro wrestler Chris Benoit strangled his wife and smothered his son before hanging himself in his weight room.

Benoit had canceled a pay-per-view appearance at the "Vengeance" event in Houston because of "personal reasons" a day before he, his wife and their 7-year-old son were found dead.

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Authorities also said they are investigating whether steroids may have been a factor in the deaths of Benoit, his wife and their 7-year-old son who were found dead in an apparent murder-suicide.

Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard said test results may not be back for weeks or even months.

"We don't know yet. That's one of the things we'll be looking at," he said.

Autopsies were scheduled Tuesday by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in DeKalb County.

Details of the deaths "are going to prove a little bizarre" when released to the public, Ballard told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Autopsies were scheduled Tuesday by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Authorities were not seeking any suspects.

Investigators believe Benoit killed his wife, 43-year-old Nancy, and son Daniel during the weekend and then himself Monday. The bodies were found Monday afternoon in three separate rooms of the house, off a gravel road about two miles from the Whitewater Country Club.

Ballard told The Associated Press a gun was not used in any of the deaths, but he would not say how the three died.

"We're pretty sure we know, but we want to confirm it with the crime lab," Ballard said early Tuesday.

Fayette County Coroner C.J. Mowell did not return calls seeking comment. The answering service for his funeral home said he was out of town.

Neighbors said the Benoits led a low-key lifestyle.

"They were nice," said Lorre Jones, who lives across the street. Her daughter Alaina said: "We would see Chris walking in his yard from time to time. He wasn't rude, but he wasn't really outwardly warm."

Jimmy Baswell, who was Benoit's driver for more than five years, placed a white wreath at the Benoits' gate Tuesday.

"I saw him with his family all the time," said Baswell. "They always seemed like they were the happiest people."

World Wrestling Entertainment said on its Web site that it asked authorities to check on Benoit and his family after being alerted by friends who received "several curious text messages sent by Benoit early Sunday morning."

The WWE, based in Stamford, Conn., said it had been asked by authorities not to release further information on the deaths.

Benoit, born in Montreal, was a former world heavyweight champion, Intercontinental champion and held several tag-team titles. His names in the ring included "The Canadian Crippler."

He started his wrestling career in Calgary and continued it in Japan before moving back to North America. The family moved into the Fayettville neighborhood last summer, a neighbor told the newspaper.

"WWE extends its sincerest thoughts and prayers to the Benoit family's relatives and loved ones in this time of tragedy," the company said in a statement on its Web site.

Benoit had maintained a home in metro Atlanta from the time he wrestled for the defunct World Championship Wrestling. The Fayette County Tax Assessors Office lists the value of the house, situated on more than 8.5 acres, at nearly $900,000.

The WWE canceled its live "Monday Night RAW" card in Corpus Christi, Texas, and USA Network aired a three-hour tribute to Benoit in place of the scheduled wrestling telecast.

Benoit's wife managed several wrestlers and went by the stage name "Woman." They met when her then-husband drew up a script that had them involved in a relationship as part of a story line on World Championship Wrestling, the newspaper said.

Benoit has two other children from a prior relationship.

Benoit became a standout at an early age among wrestling prospects who trained in the dungeon basement of the house where fellow Canadians and professional wrestlers Owen and Bret Hart trained. Owen Hart was killed during a wrestling event in 1999.

"He was like a family member to me, and everyone in my family is taking it real hard," said Bret Hart, a five-time champion with the World Wrestling Federation. The federation has since changed its name to World Wrestling Entertainment.

(Copyright 2007 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.)


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