Wrestler and Wife Argued Over Child Care
Wednesday, June 27, 2007; 11:06 PM
ATLANTA -- In the days before pro wrestler Chris Benoit killed his wife and child and hanged himself, the couple argued over whether he should stay home more to take care of their mentally retarded 7-year-old son, an attorney for the wrestling league said Wednesday.
"I think it's fair to say that the subject of caring for that child was part of what made their relationship complicated and difficult, and it's something they were both constantly struggling with," said Jerry McDevitt, an attorney for World Wrestling Entertainment. "We do know it was a source of stress and consternation."
McDevitt said the wrestling organization learned from the couple's friends and relatives that the Benoits were struggling with where to send the boy to school since he had recently finished kindergarten.
He also said Benoit's wife didn't want him to quit wrestling, but she "wanted him to be at home more to care for the kid. She'd say she can't take care of him by herself when he was on the road."
The child suffered from a rare medical condition called Fragile X Syndrome, an inherited form of mental retardation often accompanied by autism, McDevitt said.
Over the past weekend, authorities said, Benoit strangled his wife, suffocated his son and placed a Bible next to their bodies before hanging himself with a weight-machine cable in the couple's suburban home. No motive was offered for the killings, which were discovered Monday.
Anabolic steroids were found in Benoit's home, leading officials to wonder whether the drugs played a role in the slayings. Some experts believe steroids cause paranoia, depression and violent outbursts known as "roid rage."
The WWE, based in Stamford, Conn., issued a news release Tuesday saying steroids "were not and could not be related to the cause of death" and that the findings indicate "deliberation, not rage." It also added that Benoit tested negative April 10, the last time he was tested for drugs.
Also Wednesday, Benoit's personal physician said the wrestler did not give any indication he was troubled when he met with the doctor hours before the start of the weekend.
Benoit had been under the care of Dr. Phil Astin, a longtime friend, for treatment of low testosterone levels. Astin said the condition likely originated from previous steroid use.
Astin prescribed testosterone for Benoit in the past but would not say what, if any, medications he prescribed the day of their meeting.
"He was in my office on Friday to stop by just to see my staff," Astin said. "He certainly didn't show any signs of any distress or rage or anything."