As police search for a motive in the Chris Benoit double murder-suicide, World Wrestling Entertainment chairman Vince McMahon addressed the matter of “‘roid rage” – and eased up on his organization’s earlier statement that “steroids were not and could not be related” to the tragedy.”
On Thursday, McMahon told the Today show’s Meredith Vieira, “Steroids may or may not have had anything to do with this, It’s all speculation until the toxicology reports come back.”
“This is not an act of rage,” McMahon said of Benoit’s asphyxiations of wife Nancy and 7-year-old son Daniel. “This is an act of deliberation … a horrific tragedy. It happened in pro wrestling. There’s a rush to judgment. There’s almost a hysteria around us.”
He also pointed a finger to the prescription medications investigators discovered in the house, and mentioned his organization’s “wellness program,” launched in February.
Within the WWE, said McMahon, Benoit was known as “a mild-mannered individual. … There was no way of telling this man was a monster.”
Meanwhile, new details have been emerging about the troubles in Benoit’s life.
On Wednesday, an attorney for the WWE told the Associated Press Benoit and his wife had argued over the care for their son, who the WWE says suffered from a rare disorder.
According to WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt, Daniel Benoit had Fragile X Syndrome, a genetic condition often associated with cognitive disabilities and autism.
“It’s fair to say that the subject of caring for that child was part of what made their relationship complicated and difficult, and it’s something they were both constantly struggling with,” McDevitt told the AP. “We do know it was a source of stress and consternation.”
Nancy Benoit, 43, didn’t want her husband, 40, to quit wrestling, McDevitt said, but she “wanted him to be at home more to care for the kid. She’d say she can’t take care of him by herself when he was on the road.” Daniel had recently finished kindergarten, and friends and relatives said his parents were struggling with where to send Daniel to school, he added.
Fayette Co. District Attorney Scott Ballard earlier told PEOPLE that Daniel was “somewhat significantly undersized” and needle marks in his arm suggested he may have been receiving injections of a growth hormone.
Anabolic steroids, for which Benoit had prescriptions, were found in the home, leading to speculation that “‘roid rage” may have had a role in the slayings, although WWE said in a statement Tuesday that Benoit tested negative on April 10, the last time he was tested for drugs, and that the evidence indicates “deliberation, not rage.”
Benoit’s personal physician, Dr. Phil Astin, had been treating the wrestler for low testosterone levels, most likely resulting from previous steroid use, Astin told the AP Wednesday.
“He was in my office on Friday to stop by just to see my staff,” Astin said. “He certainly didn’t show any signs of any distress or rage or anything. I’m still very surprised and shocked, especially with his child Daniel involved.”
Investigators pursuing a motive generally consider family health issues, marital troubles and work and financial woes. “Those are the basics you look for,” Fayette Co. Sheriff’s Lt. Jimmy Pope tells PEOPLE. “We don’t have any new theories we’re looking at or any new direction at this time.” He adds, “It’s hard to understand what his motive was or what his intentions were. But in some cases in a suicide situation, that’s never known.”