Professional wrestler Chris Benoit met with his personal physician hours before he allegedly killed his wife and son and then hanged himself in his basement, the doctor said Wednesday.
“He was in my office on Friday to stop by just to see my staff,” said Dr. Phil Astin of metro Atlanta. “He certainly didn’t show any signs of any distress or rage or anything.”
Authorities say Benoit strangled his wife, suffocated his 7-year-old son Daniel and placed a Bible next to their bodies before hanging himself with a weight-machine pulley over the weekend. No motive was offered for the killings, which were spread out over the weekend and discovered Monday.
Astin, who said he was Benoit’s longtime friend and physician, said he had prescribed testosterone to Benoit because he suffered from low amounts of the hormone. He said the condition likely originated from previous steroid use. He would not say what, if any, medications he prescribed the day of the meeting.
“I’m still very surprised and shocked, especially with his child Daniel involved,” said Benoit. “He worshipped his child.”
Investigators said Benoit’s 43-year-old wife was strangled Friday with what appeared to be a cable in an upstairs family room, and her feet and wrists were bound and there was blood under her head, indicating a possible struggle. Daniel was probably killed late Saturday or early Sunday, and his body was found in his bed, the district attorney said.
Before the killings, the family was struggling with how to care for the child, who suffered from a rare medical condition called Fragile X Syndrome, an inherited form of mental retardation often accompanied by autism, said Jerry McDevitt, an attorney for World Wrestling Entertainment.
“Him and Nancy were clearly struggling about this whole issue, about how to take care of Daniel,” said McDevitt.
“I don’t know what he confronted when he went back into the house,” he said. “No one really knows that. We’ll have to see. Clearly this issue of the son was a stressor on both of their relationships for some time.”
District Attorney Scott Ballard said the autopsy indicated that there were no bruise marks on his neck, so authorities are now assuming he could have been killed using a choke hold. “It’s a process of elimination,” he said.
Anabolic steroids were found in Benoit’s home, leading officials to wonder whether the drugs may have caused the muscle man nicknamed the “Canadian Crippler” to kill his wife and child and then himself.
The WWE, based in Stamford, Conn., issued a news release Tuesday evening 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.
“The drugs they had found in there, including the steroids, were all pursuant to legitimate prescription. We know they know which doctor prescribed it,” McDevitt said. “There’s no question, none of these drugs are out there, none of these drugs came from Internet pharmacies.”
While steroids can cause the paranoia and explosive outbursts known as “roid rage,” the drug is also associated with deep and lengthy bouts of depression.
“Just as you have the extreme high of when you’re on steroids, you can get the opposite,” said Dr. Todd Schlifstein, a clinical assistant professor at the New York University School of Medicine. “You can have a dramatic difference in mood swings. You can feel there’s no hope, there’s no future.”