Earlier this evening while attending a minor league ballgame in Williamson County, I received several text messages and IM’s from persons claiming Chris Benoit had died.  ESPN Radio confirmed as much a few minutes later, but with no details other than the bodies of Benoit’s seven year old son, Daniel and his wife Nancy (formerly the spouse of Kevin Sullivan) were found as well.

There’s (a lot) more from the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Saeed Ahmed and Kathy Jeffcoats :

Monday night, the largest wrestling organization in the world grappled with a real-life murder mystery: What led to the apparent murder-suicide of superstar wrestler Chris Benoit, his wife and child inside their expansive Fayetteville, GA home?

Officials have not disclosed how the family died, other than to say the deaths did not involve a gun.

“The details, when they come out,” said Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard, “are going to prove a little bizarre.”

The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer has a bit more to add :

Sources in the Fayette County Police Department are now working under the theory that Chris Benoit killed Nancy on Saturday, son Daniel on Sunday, and then killed himself earlier today.

Benoit was found dead in his weight room. Nancy was found dead in the lving room. Daniel was found dead in his bedroom, accordig to an unnamed source in the department.

For those who’ve not followed the pro-wrestling-thing, this might seem like a bit much over who-the-fuck-cares, and if you’re amongst those who don’t give a hoot, by all means, please click somewhere else.  For everyone else, however, Benoit was a stylistic pioneer who rose to his sport’s pinnacle during an era in which doing so in the USA without being monster huge and/or skilled on the microphone was virtually unheard of.

There are far better places to read about his tenures in ECW, Japan and his pivotal role in the rise and fall of WCW, but suffice to say that while it has been many years since I saw Benoit wrestle in person, calling him a craftsman is a huge understatement.  The circumstances surrounding his death are bound to be disturbing, and it might ultimately be impossible to remember Benoit independent of this tragedy. But on a night when he’s arguably more famous in death than he was in life, his level of artistry and superior work ethic are worthy of acknowledgement.

(UPDATE : As it turns out, “disturbing” was a bit of an understatement.)