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Steroids found in Benoit home; Bibles beside victims

    FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. — Prescription steroids were found in the home of pro wrestler Chris Benoit and his slain wife and son were found with Bibles placed beside their bodies, but no motive had yet emerged for the murder and Benoit’s suicide, authorities said Tuesday.
    Benoit strangled his wife in the family’s office and asphyxiated his son in his bed before hanging himself in his basement using weights attached to pulley, Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard said.
    Autopsy results reveal the wife was killed Friday and the son was likely killed the next day, said Lt. Tommy Pope of the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department.
    Authorities also believe Benoit killed himself hours after the son was killed Saturday night or Sunday morning, Pope said.
    He said a Bible was placed by the body of each victim. The wife was bound by her feet and wrists and blood was found near her head. Her body was wrapped in a towel, Ballard said.
    The son was found killed in his bed. Autopsy results showed mother and son died of asphyxiation, Pope said.
    The bodies of Benoit, his wife, 43-year-old Nancy, and 7-year-old son Daniel were found Monday afternoon in three separate rooms of the house, off a gravel road about two miles from the Whitewater Country Club.
    ‘‘In a community like this it’s bizarre to have a murder-suicide, especially involving the death of a 7-year-old,’’ Ballard said. ‘‘I don’t think we’ll every be able to wrap our minds around this.’’
    Pope said Benoit had text messaged a co-worker during the weekend. But Pope would not discuss what the message said.
    He said anabolic steroids were among the prescription medications found at the house. He did not say whom they were prescribed for.
    Ballard said toxicology test results may not be back for weeks or even months.
    Autopsies were conducted Tuesday by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in DeKalb County.
    Nancy Benoit filed for a divorce in May 2003, saying the couple’s three-year union was irrevocably broken and alleging ‘‘cruel treatment.’’ But she later dropped the complaint, as well as a request for a restraining order in which she charged that Benoit had threatened her and had broken furniture in their home.
    In the divorce filing, she said Benoit made more than $500,000 a year as a professional wrestler and asked for permanent custody of Daniel and child support. In his response, Benoit sought joint custody.
    Asked about the condition of the interior of the house, sheriff’s Sgt. Keith Whiteside said investigators found ‘‘nothing really out of the ordinary.’’ He said Benoit was found in the home’s weight room, his wife in an office and the son in an upstairs bedroom.
    Neighbors said the Benoits led a low-key lifestyle.
    ‘‘They were nice,’’ said Lorre Jones, who lives across the street. Her daughter Alaina said: ‘‘We would see Chris walking in his yard from time to time. He wasn’t rude, but he wasn’t really outwardly warm.’’
    Jimmy Baswell, who was Benoit’s driver for more than five years, placed a white wreath at the Benoits’ gate Tuesday.
    ‘‘I saw him with his family all the time,’’ said Baswell. ‘‘They always seemed like they were the happiest people.’’
    World Wrestling Entertainment said on its Web site that it asked authorities to check on Benoit and his family after being alerted by friends who received ‘‘several curious text messages sent by Benoit early Sunday morning.’’
    The WWE, based in Stamford, Conn., said it had been asked by authorities not to release further information on the deaths.
    Benoit, born in Montreal, was a former world heavyweight champion, Intercontinental champion and held several tag-team titles. His names in the ring included ‘‘The Canadian Crippler.’’
    ‘‘WWE extends its sincerest thoughts and prayers to the Benoit family’s relatives and loved ones in this time of tragedy,’’ the company said in a statement on its Web site.
    Benoit had maintained a home in metro Atlanta from the time he wrestled for the defunct World Championship Wrestling. The Fayette County Tax Assessors Office lists the value of the house, situated on more than 8.5 acres, at nearly $900,000.
    The WWE canceled its live ‘‘Monday Night RAW’’ card in Corpus Christi, Texas, and USA Network aired a three-hour tribute to Benoit in place of the scheduled wrestling telecast.
    Benoit’s wife managed several wrestlers and went by the stage name ‘‘Woman.’’ They met when her then-husband drew up a script that had them involved in a relationship as part of a story line on World Championship Wrestling, the newspaper said.
    Benoit has two other children from a prior relationship.
    Benoit became a standout at an early age among wrestling prospects who trained in the dungeon basement of the house where fellow Canadians and professional wrestlers Owen and Bret Hart trained. Owen Hart was killed during a wrestling event in 1999.
    ‘‘He was like a family member to me, and everyone in my family is taking it real hard,’’ said Bret Hart, a five-time champion with the World Wrestling Federation. The federation has since changed its name to World Wrestling Entertainment.
    ———
    Associated Press writer Jason Bronis contributed to this report.

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