Sandra Toffoloni, the sister of Nancy Benoit, revealed in a new interview that Chris Benoit likely would have died within one year of the Benoit Family Tragedy in June 2007 had he not committed suicide. This is based on what Sandra was told about the condition of Chris's heart at the time of Chris's death after murdering his wife, Nancy, and their son, Daniel.
"The medical examiner told us after the autopsy that Chris was on his way to death within ten months," Sandra told Dina M. of The2Count.com in what is believed to be Sandra's first interview about the Benoit Family Tragedy from six years ago.
"His heart was huge, about three times normal size, and it was ready to blow up at any moment."
Chris's heart sounds similar to the condition of Eddie Guerrero, whose heart stopped one-and-a-half-years earlier in November 2005. Sandra, who established throughout the interview how close she was to Chris because they "bonded instantly," also confirmed that Chris was considering getting out of WWE at the time of the tragedy.
"Eddie Guerrero’s death in 2005 shocked us all, no one was prepared for that. It was devastating for Nancy, but it was devastating for Chris on a whole other level. Eddie’s passing came after a long line of huge losses and Chris was in a state of perpetual bereavement," Sandra said.
"After Eddie passed away, Chris and Nancy discussed the possibility of Chris leaving the WWE and starting his own wrestling school. As a matter of fact, it had become more than a possibility. A business plan had been developed and merchandise had been designed. However, the WWE was prepared to give Chris a big push and put him into another championship match (for the ECW Title) so Chris began training harder and pushing his body further."
Chris, who turned 40-years-old one month before the double murder-suicide, did "a lot of self-medicating," according to Sandra, to cope with the rigors of full-time wrestling, the natural aging process, and the deaths of his close friends in the wrestling business. (This was in the early stages of WWE's Wellness Policy, which was implemented following Eddie's death.)
"He had a serious drug problem, used a lot of steroids and was certainly not alone in that at the time," Sandra said. "The paranoia was a direct result of the abuse of steroids. The last two weeks I spent with Chris, we used to go to the gym and go tanning together. At some point, he began acting weird and I wondered what was wrong with him. He would find 30 different routes to drive to the gym which he never did before. This is not schizophrenia! This was a result of combining steroids with pain medication and, later on, alcohol. I had never seen him like this before."
Sandra offered her theory on what pushed Chris over the edge: "The final blow came in mid-June 2007, just a few days before everything happened, when Sherri Martel passed away (on June 15). That devastated Nancy just as much as Eddie’s death had devastated Chris. I remember my sister telling me, 'I don’t know how much more of this I can take and I don’t know how much more of this Chris can take.'"
It all adds up to Sandra believing things boiled over for the couple on June 22, 2007, including Sandra believing that Chris "lost it" as part of "'roid rage." She added that she believes Chris "never would have done what he did had it not been for the steroids and prescription drugs."
Offering perhaps the most-poignant remarks about the Benoit Family Tragedy over the last six years, Sandra described her final conversation with Nancy, which occurred on Thursday, June 21, 2007, one day before she was murdered.
"We talked about mascaras and she told me that I needed to get a good quality mascara for myself. We also talked about Daniel and how he was graduating from horse camp. We talked about David (Chris’s older son) and how he was growing. Nancy also spoke to me about her home improvement plans for the upcoming summer. Chris and Nancy were considering having another baby, but Nancy had said that she wouldn’t have one until I moved closer to them," Sandra said.
"They then suggested that a house be built for me on the acreage right by their own home. Chris was actually stoked about it. Nancy was hoping to travel with Chris on occasion if they could have someone close by to take care of the children. Once we hung up, Nancy called me back a little later to tell me that she had put some money in my bank account so I could do something for myself that upcoming Monday: get a massage, a pedicure, buy some mascara. This is how generous my sister was and that was the last time I ever spoke to her. She had no clue as to what was about to happen."
As for what happened the next day, Sandra said she subscribes to the theory that Benoit exploded because of the toxic chemical mix in his body combined with external life issues; she does not believe that head trauma from multiple concussions was the determining factor.
"The Chris Benoit I had known for a decade loved my sister so much that he would never – even in the worst episode of high spots – have hurt my sister this bad. I believe he totally blacked out," Sandra said. "I also believe that, when he came out of it and realized what he had done, he went out of his mind. He probably couldn’t believe what he had done to Nancy. He realized what he had done and medicated even more and drank and wondered how he would explain this to Daniel. He probably became so grief stricken with his own actions that he didn’t want to live anymore. I can understand him taking his own life, especially knowing he would get capital punishment if he were tried and found guilty of my sister’s murder.
"However, I can’t put a reason on why Chris killed Daniel. I myself am unable to have children and my sister and Chris always made me feel better about this fact by sharing so much of my nephew’s life with me. I was very, very close to Daniel. Chris knew I would have taken care of and loved that child with everything I had. I would have kept David and Megan in his life as well and he knew all that."
As for the concussion theory, Sandra said, "Yes, my brother-in-law had concussions, he hit his head for a living and I understand that. But way beyond that, he had a very serious drug and steroid problem... It can’t be told to me that this wasn’t the determining factor behind what happened. I wasn’t there that weekend, but I was during the last decade. Chris could have never done what he did had it not been for the steroids and prescription drugs."
Shortly after the double murder-suicide, Sandra helped launch the "Nancy and Daniel Benoit Foundation," which Sandra described as the result of sensing that Nancy was "moving me to action, in my head."
"Essentially what we aimed to do is educate parents and children in middle and high school levels about the adverse effects of steroid abuse on the brain," Sandra said. "As the foundation grew, I became more focused on student athletes because they’re the ones using drugs to enhance their performances. Our message to them is that if you’re really good at what you do and work hard at it, the win is a wonderful feeling. There is no need to stain your performance with knowing that you cheated. Above and beyond the cheating, these drugs are killing people and families of athletes. We want young athletes to know that you can still be the best at what you do, you can still be a winner by being clean and playing fair and working hard. On the foundation’s website, I have included pictures of my sister’s family because we want people to see the faces that steroids have destroyed."
Sandra also revealed that current WWE on-air star Paul Heyman has supported the Foundation and has been encouraging her to write a book about Nancy's 20-year wrestling career. If nothing else, the Foundation is trying to "come up with sufficient funds to create several Nancy and Daniel Benoit Scholarships."
As for how she and her family are coping with the deaths six years later, Sandra noted they are still grieving, while still trying to understand what happened.
"My parents are still very angry but they are in their 70s. I, on the other hand, have a lot longer to live with this than they do (God willing!). Holding on to this much hate towards someone will eventually hurt me more than anything else. I’m working toward it. I really am," Sandra said.
"I don’t want to be some old lady carrying hate and vengeance against someone for doing something, even for stealing my family from me. I just think it would be an unbearably huge weight to carry around for a lifetime. Hard to forget something that you can’t understand to begin with. Someday I’d like to at least find peace with it if I can’t even summon the forgiveness."
Sunday, November 3, 2013
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