On June 25, 2007, police entered Benoit’s home in Fayetteville, Georgia when WWE, Benoit’s employers, requested a “welfare check” after Benoit missed weekend events without notice, leading to concerns. The officers discovered the bodies of Benoit, his wife Nancy, and their 7-year-old son Daniel at around 2:30 p.m. EDT. Upon investigating, no additional suspects were sought by authorities. It was determined that Benoit had committed the murders. Over a three-day period, Benoit had killed his wife and son before committing suicide. His wife was bound before the killing. Benoit’s son was drugged with Xanax and likely unconscious before Benoit strangled him. Benoit then committed suicide by hanging himself on his lat pulldown machine.
WWE cancelled the scheduled three-hour long live Raw show on June 25 and replaced the broadcast version with a three-hour tribute to his life and career, featuring his past matches, segments from the Hard Knocks: The Chris Benoit Story DVD, and comments from wrestlers and announcers. However, once the details of the murder-suicide became apparent, WWE quickly and quietly began distancing itself from the wrestler by removing merchandise and no longer mentioning him. The June 26 episode of ECW began with Vince McMahon addressing the television audience about the circumstances and announcing that there would be no mention of Benoit that night other than his comments.
Toxicology reports released on July 17, 2007, revealed that at their time of death, Nancy had three different drugs in her system: Xanax, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone, all of which were found at the therapeutic rather than toxic levels. Daniel was found to have Xanax in his system, which led the chief medical examiner to believe that he was sedated before he was murdered. Benoit was found to have Xanax, hydrocodone, and an elevated level of testosterone, caused by a synthetic form of the hormone, in his system. The chief medical examiner attributed the testosterone level to Benoit possibly being treated for a deficiency caused by previous steroid abuse or testicular insufficiency. There was no indication that anything in Benoit’s body contributed to his violent behaviour that led to the murder-suicide, concluding that there was no “roid-rage” involved. Prior to the murder-suicide, Benoit had been given illegal steroids not in compliance with WWE’s Talent Wellness Program in February 2006. Benoit received nandrolone and anastrozole. During the investigation into steroid abuse, it was revealed that other wrestlers had also been given steroids.
After the double-murder suicide, former wrestler Christopher Nowinski contacted Michael Benoit, father of Chris Benoit, suggesting that years of trauma to his son’s brain may have led to his actions. Tests were conducted on Benoit’s brain by Julian Bailes, the head of neurosurgery at West Virginia University, and results showed that “Benoit’s brain was so severely damaged it resembled the brain of an 85-year-old Alzheimer’s patient.” He was reported to have had an advanced form of dementia, similar to the brains of four retired NFL players who had suffered multiple concussions, sank into depression, and harmed themselves or others. Bailes and his colleagues concluded that repeated concussions can lead to dementia, which can contribute to severe behavioural problems. Benoit’s father suggests that brain damage may have been the leading cause of the crime.
Once the details of Benoit’s actions became apparent, WWE made the decision to remove nearly all mentions of Benoit from their website, from future broadcasts and all publications.