Published June 27, 2007
Former professional wrestler Kevin Sullivan expressed shock and sadness over the death of his ex-wife, Nancy Benoit, whose body was found in her suburban Atlanta home Monday along with those of her 7-year-old son, Daniel, and husband, pro wrestler Chris Benoit, in an apparent murder-suicide.
Sullivan married the former Nancy Daus in 1985. The couple was still married in the 1990s when a scripted rivalry between Benoit and Sullivan in the now-defunct World Championship Wrestling (WCW) resulted in Benoit as the victor on the mat. However, a real romance blossomed between Benoit and Nancy, who eventually split with Sullivan and married Benoit in 2000.
From his home in Tavernier, Fla., in the Florida Keys, where he owns and runs a gym called Froggy’s Fitness with his wife, Linda, Sullivan said he had not spoken to his ex-wife since their split. He told FOXNews.com he learned of the grisly crime, which reportedly took place over several days, from television news on Monday evening.
“It’s surreal,” said Sullivan, who did not have children with Nancy Benoit. “She was a nice person. We just went our separate ways. She was nice and very loving and I’m sure she was a good mother.”
Sullivan said he did not know Benoit well outside the ring. “I never associated with him, so I really don’t know his personality,” he said. … “[But] I’m sad for all three, especially the child.”
Nancy's death comes 26 years to the month that the former valet and manager to wrestlers had her big break in professional wrestling.
It was June 1984 when she scored the cover of Wrestling All-Stars magazine. Nancy — born May 21, 1964 in Daytona Beach, Florida — had at that point worked as a model before and sat ringside to watch pro wrestling matches.
Just a month after her magazine shoot, she met Sullivan. He quickly fell in love with her, and soon after Nancy was a part of Sullivan's entourage in Florida Championship Wrestling. As part of the "Satanists," she took the name of Fallen Angel.
They were married the next year, and Nancy's career in professional wrestling was quickly being cemented.
In 1989, she began with the WCW, when she sat ringside to support brothers Rick and Scott Steiner as a character named Robin Green, who was supposed to be a fan obsessed with Rick. Finally, Rick allowed her to sit ringside with the brothers.
During that fateful televised match, though, Nancy revealed herself as a new character — Woman — costing the Steiners a win with her distraction.
With her new persona, she left the WCW.
But after a few years helping Kevin independently and doubling as a valet in the ECW — most notably for the cigarette-smoking, beer-guzzling Sandman, and another wrestler named 2 Cold Scorpio — Nancy and Kevin made a move back to the WCW in 1994.
By the end of the year, she was managing the Four Horsemen, who consisted of Ric Flair, Brian Pillman, Arn Anderson, and her future husband, Chris Benoit.
Soon after, Nancy began an on-screen, storyline relationship with Benoit. By 1997, the Benoit relationship had turned serious, and she and Sullivan divorced.
But there may be more to that divorce than meets the eye.
Sullivan's supposed intent in the late '90s was to retire from wrestling and focus on a career in booking, according to various media reports. However, Kevin is said to have caused Nancy to quit wrestling when he created a pay-per-view skit where she would appear topless; Nancy refused.
In 1997, Benoit beat Sullivan in one final match between the two, largely ending the public feud. Benoit left the WCW in 2000 for the World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment, or WWE).
Nancy had a son, Daniel, with Benoit that same year, on February 23. They married two days later. With Nancy's career as a valet over, she began managing her husband's career from their new Atlanta home. Her life as a mother and work-at-home wife began and life was sweet.
At Wrestlemania XX, Nancy joined her husband Chris in the ring to celebrate after he won the World Heavyweight Title.
But in May 2003, Nancy filed for a divorce, saying their three-year union was irrevocably broken and alleging "cruel treatment."
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.
Four years later, on June 25, 2007, cops say Chris Benoit strangled his wife, suffocated his 7-year-old son, and placed a Bible next to their bodies before hanging himself by the pulley of a weightlifting machine in their Atlanta home.
Nancy was killed Friday in an upstairs family room, her feet and wrists were bound and there was blood under her head, indicating a possible struggle, Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard said. Daniel was likely killed late Saturday or early Sunday, the body found in his bed, Ballard said.
Benoit apparently killed himself between several hours and as long as a day later, Ballard said. Cops are unaware of any motive.
The storybook beginning for Nancy's life in wrestling ends in tragedy.
Blane Bachelor contributed to this report.