Writer's Note: With today marking the fifth anniversary of Chris Benoit's death, it's only right that I re-post my Benoit column again. Many would say this is my best column, and while it isn't my place to say what is my "best" work, I can say that nothing I've ever created has caused more controversy and was more talked-about than this. Enjoy.
"I say a little prayer for you.."
A little over an hour until WrestleMania begins. I'm antsy. There's not much on television, so I'm flipping channels.
Cable access religious programming.
I have 700-something channels, and there's not a damn thing on. Funny how that works, isn't it?
As I continued flipping through the stations, my cell phone text notification went off. "I got big booty bitches.. big, big booty bitches.. I got big booty bitches.. big, big booty bitches.. oooo.." Almost immediately after it's done, it goes off again.
By the time I've stood up and walked over to my phone, it goes off two more times. It must be something important. I opened up the first text message that was from the homie, Shea..
"Dude, turn to CNN RIGHT NOW"
The next text message..
"Please fucking tell me ur watching CNN"
The next one..
"WTF. U watching the news?"
Assuming the other messages involved the same thing, I walked back to the room and grabbed the remote, changing the channel to CNN. When I saw the headline at the bottom of the screen, my jaw dropped, and my cell phone fell to the floor.
Breaking News: Murderer of former wrestler Chris Benoit & family arrested
It took me several seconds for my mind to wrap around what it was looking at. The murderer of the Benoit family was arrested? Didn't Benoit murder his family before taking his own life? I sat down and turned the volume up. A press conference with Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard was about to begin.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to thank you for making it out here on such short notice. I won't be taking any questions, but I'll go over the information that we've received, leading to the break in the Chris Benoit case. At approximately 7:24 this morning, Kevin Francis Sullivan was arrested and charged with the murders of Chris and Nancy Benoit, as well as their son, Daniel. We've been following some tips and leads, and have had Mr. Sullivan here for questioning over the last few days. He confessed to the murders this morning, and is now being held, without bail, at the Georgia State Prison. Further details will follow, but for now, this is all I can share with you. Thank you for your time."
There were tears welling up in my eyes, but honestly, I didn't know why. Perhaps the sheer magnitude of the entire thing was crashing down on me. My phone hadn't stopped going off the entire time, but I was too numb to pick it up and read anything. After all this time.. nearly four years.. it turns out that Chris Benoit isn't the monster of a man that people have made him out to be. All of the questions people had.. everything that people thought would never be answered.. were being answered right before my eyes.
The CNN anchor said that Reverend Johnny Lee Clary would be joining him, via satellite, after the break. Reverend Clary used to be a former pro wrestler, and through the years had been very outspoken about the entire Benoit situation. His comments would be very interesting to hear.
During the commercial break, I did my best to respond to some of my text messages, but once the break was over, my phone was shut off. I didn't want to be distracted by anything.
"Reverend Clary, thank you for joining us this afternoon."
"It's my pleasure."
"Let's get right into it. What are your thoughts on today's developments in the Chris Benoit case?"
"I really hate to say this, but I'm not surprised. From the beginning, when everyone began accusing Chris Benoit of committing these heinous crimes, I knew something wasn't right. Something didn't add up. After looking at things from a different angle, I began to dig through some of my own clues, and I had Kevin Sullivan in my sights almost immediately."
"Well, it starts with the fact that Mr. Sullivan used to be married to Nancy Benoit, for one. When Sullivan and Benoit used to work for World Championship Wrestling, a storyline was created for Nancy, who was the valet of Mr. Sullivan on-screen, to leave him for Mr. Benoit. Mr. Sullivan is from the old school way of thinking in wrestling, and he wanted to take things even further, to make wrestling fans think everything was more than just a storyline. Chris and Nancy would travel from city to city together. They'd share a hotel room on the road. They'd eat meals together. They were ordered to hold hands and be affectionate with each other while out in public. Somewhere along the lines, life began to imitate art, and Nancy really did end up leaving Mr. Sullivan. She began to date Mr. Benoit, and things went from there."
"When did this storyline take place?"
"In the summer of 1997."
"So, why would Kevin Sullivan wait ten years to do what he did?"
"I was getting to that, actually. What a lot of people don't know about Mr. Sullivan is that he's a noted Satanist. Some reports even have him as one of the highest-ranking members of the Satanic Church. One of the key beliefs in Satanism is revenge. They believe in finding revenge in the most calculating way they possibly can, not just something that they can do right away."
"You're saying that Satanism is behind the murders of the Benoit family?"
"That's exactly what I'm saying. Look at the numbers. The weekend of the murders was the tenth anniversary of Nancy Sullivan leaving her husband for Chris Benoit. There's that calculating method of revenge I mentioned. I believe Mr. Sullivan had this planned all along. He knew that he'd be one of the top suspects if anything happened to either Chris or Nancy in the days, weeks and months following the divorce. He let things cool off a bit before picking his time and following through on the threat he said to Chris in WCW upon hearing that his wife was leaving him."
"It has been documented that Mr. Sullivan threatened to kill Mr. Benoit one day, but nobody paid much attention to the threat. He was angry. He wasn't in his right mind when he said it."
"In the last few years, we've heard how the police think the weekend went down. They felt that Nancy was murdered, followed by Daniel being murdered the next day, with Chris Benoit taking his own life the following day. If Mr. Sullivan truly did commit these crimes, how do you think things went down on that particular weekend?"
"I think Mr. Sullivan entered the Benoit home by gunpoint, and that he had a few of his fellow Satanic Church members to help him out. He went right after Nancy, still angry with her for leaving him. With Chris and Daniel being forced to watch, Mr. Sullivan strangled Nancy Benoit to death. He had extra reason to be upset with Nancy. When they were together, Nancy was also a practicing Satanist, but since marrying Chris Benoit, she had become a Born Again Christian and had devoted her life to Christ. That, of course, infuriated him. He waited an entire day, letting Chris and Daniel remain tied up, suffering after witnessing Nancy pass away, before he set his sights on Daniel. As a Satanist, Kevin Sullivan probably hated Daniel Benoit more than anybody on the planet. As the only offspring of Chris and Nancy Benoit, Kevin Sullivan saw Daniel Benoit as everything 'pure' in the world. He probably took great joy in murdering Daniel, especially with Chris probably being forced to watch that, as well. As a form of torture, he made Chris Benoit spend another day thinking about what had taken place in the last two days. To end the weekend, Chris Benoit was hung in the basement of the home, with Mr. Sullivan going out of his way to make things look like a suicide."
"Other than the obvious, what did Mr. Sullivan intend to gain by murdering the Benoit family like this?"
"Not only did he rid the world of the people he hated the most, getting revenge in the process, but look at what he's done to the Chris Benoit name in the last four years. He turned one of the most respected men in the wrestling business into a pariah. People absolutely hated Chris Benoit after the news of the deaths broke. He murdered his wife and his own son? People were sickened by the entire thing. World Wrestling Entertainment has basically had to pretend that Chris Benoit never existed. They've deleted his matches from DVD sets. They refuse to even mention his name on television, on their website or on anything that has to do with the company. His title history has been completely wiped out. Even some of Chris' closest friends wanted nothing to do with his memory anymore. In other words, people were starting to see Chris Benoit with some of the same hatred and disgust that Kevin Sullivan had felt for an entire decade. He could have easily just murdered them, and left it at that. He felt as though Chris Benoit ruined his life, so, even in death, he wanted to make sure that he ruined Chris Benoit's life and everything that he spent so many years trying to build and accomplish."
"What about the bibles that were reportedly found next to the bodies?"
"Things like that have come up in Satanism-led murders in the past. It's basically a way for a Satanist to taunt organized religion. It's the equivalent of telling someone that they spent all that time praying to God and trying to follow all of His rules, but when they needed Him most, He did them no good and they were still able to be murdered. Again, Satanists are incredibly cold and calculating. They don't think like the human beings you and I would consider 'normal'. This has all the makings of Kevin Sullivan's doing, as well as the Satanic Church."
"So you think this confession by Mr. Sullivan is legit?"
"Oh, absolutely. To be honest with you, I don't think these are the only deaths Kevin Sullivan has been involved with."
"What do you mean?"
"Another name that Mr. Sullivan has been linked to through the years is Sherri Schrull, better known to wrestling fans as Sherri Martel. Like Nancy Benoit, Martel had managed Kevin Sullivan in wrestling, and had been linked to him in a romantic sense, as well. There were rumors that Martel had also dabbled in Satanism, but those rumors were just that.. rumors. It was never declared official. Anyway, a little over a week before the Benoit family was murdered, Sherri Martel was found dead. Her death was declared an accidental overdose, as multiple drugs were found in her system, but everything was suspicious about it. According to everyone that knew her, she had everything going for her in life, and was as happy as she had been in years. She had been battling problems with alcohol, but never drugs, and all of a sudden, she dies of a drug overdose? It just doesn't add up. I wouldn't be surprised whatsoever if Kevin Sullivan was behind her death, as well."
"Reverend Clary, we're running short on time, but is there anything else that you'd like to say before we wrap this up?"
"Yes, actually. I'd like to take this time to say, to the wrestling fans watching, that Chris Benoit's name and legacy can be brought back into the light once again. You weren't wrong to be angry with him. However, we've all made a mistake, and as the book of Proverbs, chapter 28, verses 13 and 14 say.. A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance. Blessed is the man who reveres God, but the man who doesn't care is headed for serious trouble."
"Thank you for your time, Reverend."
With that, they went to another commercial break. Another wave of emotion fell over me, and I began to sob uncontrollably. I just didn't know how to process everything. A man that the entire world thought was a murderer for four whole years, and who had his entire legacy tarnished because of it, is actually innocent, and never did any of the crimes people accused him of.
I shut the television off, and fell to my knees in a silent prayer. A prayer for myself. A prayer for the Benoit family. A prayer for Kevin Sullivan. A prayer for things to return to a sense of normalcy.