Thursday, January 7, 2010

Volume 3, Number 16: The Benoit "Tribute" Show, Revisited

(Note: I originally posted this entry on May 22, 2008, on my Yahoo! GeoCities blog.)

Almost eleven months ago, I and millions of other "professional wrestling" fans worldwide were shocked to hear of the news that not only was Chris Benoit found dead (having already missed a house show and a pay-per-view event), but so were his wife, Nancy, and their son, Daniel. The shock became much greater, of course, as we heard and read that Chris Benoit had killed his wife and son and then killed himself.

I subsequently attacked World Wrestling Entertainment for making what I thought was a rushed decision to do a tribute show to Benoit, instead of waiting at least a few days for the facts to come forth. A few days later, the generally trustworthy lead announcer (and onetime Vice President of Talent Development), Jim Ross, stated in his own blog that when the tribute show started, all they knew was that the Benoits were found dead at their home. At that point, in another blog entry, I apologized for "Monday Morning Quarterbacking" (or to put it another way, "playing the general after the war").

Well, last night, I came upon a blog entry by Irv Muchnick stating that the incident was declared a murder-suicide more than an hour before the show started. Muchnick is a wrestling journalist who has been working on his own book on the Benoit murder-suicide and the investigation that ensued. Among other things, the blog entry states that WWE informed Scott Zerr, an Edmonton journalist, that Chris Benoit had killed his wife and son and then taken his own life; Zerr then broke this news to Chris' father, Michael, around 6:45pm Eastern time. This statement is given more gravity by the fact that Zerr, a sportswriter for the Edmonton Sun, is a friend of the Benoit family, and by that virtue alone, is among the most qualified people to break the bad news to Michael Benoit.

Obviously, this contradicts Mr. Ross' statement, along with similar statements given by Vince McMahon and various other WWE officials, that the show began before all the facts came out.

Admittedly, when I attacked WWE, it was shortly after WAGA-TV (Atlanta's Fox station) reported that police investigators believed it to be a murder-suicide, at which point the show was well underway. I certainly did come off like someone "playing the general after the war" at that time.

Also, when I said, "The murder-suicide is more prevalent in crimes where whole families are wiped out," I didn't have any research study data to back up that statement. I merely cited two examples (Mark Barton, Michael Waleskowski).

Since then, however, I have come across this story--which, incidentally, was published less than a week before the Benoit murder-suicide--that states that family murder-suicides are the most common form of mass killing. This means that when the Benoits were found dead, there was already a very good chance that it was a murder-suicide, not some sicko from outside the family killing them.

I also discovered that in the vast majority (95%) of murder-suicides, the perpetrator is a man, according to this study on murder-suicides.

So you have a entire family found dead, one of whom is a man. That should have raised a huge red flag for WWE where doing any kind of tribute was concerned. I said that not only did they play Russian Roulette, they did so with bullets in all six chambers, and it turns out that I was right. Jim Ross implied that I was among "those who seem to know all the answers and seemingly like to give the appearance of having 20/20 vision after the fact"; now you, Mr. Ross, can count yourself among them.

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