Chris Benoit's Sister-In-Law Opens Up About Double Murder-Suicide
It was arguably the most shocking and horrific moment in wrestling history; Former World Heavyweight Champion and one of the most respected professional wrestler's on the planet, Chris Benoit, was found dead at his Atlanta home, along with his wife Nancy and their seven-year-old son, Daniel. Nine years on from the tragic double murder-suicide, Benoit's sister-in-law, Sandra Toffoloni joined Chris Jericho to discuss the event that sent shockwaves throughout the wrestling and sporting world.
On 25th June, 2007, Benoit had been due to face CM Punk at WWE Vengeance for the vacant ECW Title. The bout was a dream match for fans of world class technical wrestling, who were desperate to see two of the best in the business put on a clinic. However, 'The Rabid Wolverine' would no-show the event and a day later was found hung on some exercise equipment in his home, where his wife and son were also dead, with bibles placed next to their bodies.
The WWE, initially not knowing the stomach churning details of what exactly had happened, ran a tribute show in Benoit's memory, only to then be informed that the Canadian was in fact the murderer of his family and had then taken his own life.
Jericho was a long time, on screen adversary and partner of Benoit's, battling his fellow Canadian multiple times for the WWE Intercontinental Title before they put their problems to one side to become the WWE Tag Team champions, in 2001. He sat down for an emotional 90 minute interview on his Talk Is Jericho podcast, where Toffoloni discussed her older sister's murder.
Toffoloni mentions how Benoit, after losing several close friends, including Eddie Guerrero, Sherri Martel, 'Big Bossman' Ray Traylor, Mike 'Johnny Grunge' Durham and Victor 'Black Cat' Mar, was in a "state of perpetual bereavement" and that "a lot of self-medicating going on in that house ... really, really next-level", which she believes was a big contributing factor towards Benoit's actions.
Before the events of that June weekend in 2007, Nancy Benoit had been making plans for a wrestling academy her husband was looking at opening once his in-ring career was over, called Benoit Academy and had even had t-shirts printed in preparation for its opening. However, as Nancy and Chris' marriage became strained due to the former World Champion's mental state, Nancy did have a restraining order filed against her husband.
"She was ready for the next move, and I don't think that he was, in his mind, physically or emotionally - he was just really scared, so a lot of that boiled over into their personal life.
"He always had this look in his eye that it wasn't so much of 'Who's next?' as it was 'Am I next?'
"I know there were issues in the house he was having with himself struggling inside with things that are privy to he and I that I wouldn't put on blast for anyone to know, but that coupled with the facts of what I know from being there immediately after that weekend and seeing everything, it wasn't the act of someone with brain damage.
It's impossible. I understand the necessity to want to put it on something and say, 'this is why he did it,' because the daily pain of living with not knowing why and not knowing what happened is crippling, for lack of a better term."
Toffoloni does not give any credence to the idea that Benoit's actions were sparked in a 'moment of rage', however, as she told Jericho:
"What a lot of people didn't get to see is how much he and my sister loved one another. If there was a moment of rage on Friday night - and to be clear, it was serious rage. He brutalized my sister. It wasn't just like, 'Maybe I hit her too hard and she hit her head.' He murdered her. Brutally. But when I try to talk about my nephew, it's difficult, because I don't understand it. You think about a murdered child and it's the worst thing ever. But when you think about that murdered child as the one thing you love in life more than anything, because I did, and my sister did, and he did, it's very hard for me to think about what was going on in his head and in his heart to do that. He knew for a fact that had anything ever happened to he or Nancy, I would be there to take care of Daniel, 100 percent. There was no question about that. It would have been a difficult time but he would have had a loving family to take care of him.
"All I can think of is that it was kind of a selfish last act to do that he just - I'm not sure. I can't put a reasoning behind it. He did love Daniel very much, and all I could really think was if Daniel ever saw or found out what [Chris] had done to his mother, that would have broken that child ... [Chris] spent two full days in the house with Nancy and Daniel, not alive. Let's be honest: That's weird. That's straight-up weird. There's no justification for that."
Whatever the reasons behind the tragic events of June 25th, 2007, what is certain is that it was a heart breaking tragedy for all involved and hopefully more is now being done to ensure the safety and mental well being of pro wrestlers.
Featured image via: WWE.com