Published June 28, 2007
An anonymous user operating a computer traced to Stamford, Conn. — home to World Wrestling Entertainment — posted an entry to pro wrestler Chris Benoit's biography on Wikipedia.org announcing the death of his wife Nancy at least 13 hours before police in suburban Atlanta said they found her body along with her husband's and that of their 7-year-old son, FOXNews.com has learned.
Reporters informed the Fayette County district attorney's office of the posting Thursday, and the agency forwarded the information to sheriff's investigators, who are looking into it, a legal assistant said in an e-mail to the AP.
WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt said that to his knowledge, no one at the WWE knew Nancy Benoit was dead before her body was found Monday afternoon. Text messages released by officials show that messages from Chris Benoit's cell phone were being sent to co-workers a few hours after the Wikipedia posting.
WWE employees are given WWE e-mail addresses, McDevitt said, though he did not know whether Chris Benoit had one.
"I have no idea who posted this," McDevitt said. "It's at least possible Chris may have sent some other text message to someone that we're unaware of. We don't know if he did. The phone is in the possession of authorities."
Employees at Wikipedia.org said the posting went live on their site on Monday at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. Police, however, said they found the bodies Monday at 2:30 p.m. EDT.
The posting reads: “Chris Benoit was replaced by [Johnny Nitro] for the ECW Championship match at Vengeance, as Benoit was not there due to personal issues, stemming from the death of his wife Nancy.” According to a Wikipedia.org report published after FOXNews.com made inquiries, the edit was reversed just under one hour later with the comment:
"Need a reliable source. Saying that his wife died is a pretty big statement, you need to back it up with something."
The posting apparently was made in reference to Benoit's scheduled appearance on Sunday night at an Extreme Championship Wrestling event in Texas.
An employee from Wikipedia.org told FOXNews.com that he called and left a message with investigative authorities in Fayetteville, Ga., at around 11 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, after the posting was brought to the attention of the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Web site.
“I chat with other editors on IRC — Internet relay chat — and somebody pointed it out to me on a relay chat and that it came from a Stamford connection, and that it took place at midnight Eastern Standard Time on Monday morning,” said Wikipedia.org volunteer coordinator Cary Bass. “I called and left a message with the police department.”
The computer-generated time and date stamp of the Benoit entry are listed as 4:01, 25 June 2007. Wikipedia.org lists its entries according to Universal Time, also known as Greenwich Mean Time.
Further investigation, according to Wikipedia.com, shows that one hour after the first edit reversion, another anonymous edit by 188.8.131.52 using unwiredAustralia.com.au, a wireless Internet service provider, was made adding about the aforementioned personal issues: "which according to several pro wrestling websites is attributed to the passing of Benoit's wife, Nancy."
That edit was reverted less than 20 minutes later, with the following comment: "Saying 'several pro wrestling websites' is still not reliable information." The second edit was made by a computer in Australia from a wireless network, according to Wikipedia.org.
A message left by FOXNews.com with Lt. Tommy Pope of the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department was not immediately returned.
Investigators so far have ruled the Benoit killings as a double homicide-suicide.
Wikipedia.org claims to be one of the largest reference Web sites, and is written collaboratively by users from around the world. Approved users can make submissions and change entries that are posted on the site almost immediately. Bass said the site is constantly monitored to correct inaccuracies.
Bass said when there is a high-profile case, such as the Benoit killlings, Wikipedia.org limits postings to registered users, which is now indicated at the top of the Benoit entry. According to the listed history on the Benoit entry, the computer used to post the 12:01 a.m. entry had a Stamford, Conn., Internet Protocol — or IP — address, a numeric designation that is assigned to every computer with an Internet connection, and that same address has been used to post about a dozen other messages on the site, dating back to May 16, 2007.
In related news, FOXNews.com also has learned, through widely posted Web reports, that former pro wrestler Sherri Martel, who was found dead on June 15, was linked to former wrestler Kevin Sullivan — ex-husband of Nancy Benoit.
Martel, who had a reputation as one of the top managers in pro wrestling, was found dead at her mother’s home in near Birmingham, Ala., on June 15. She was 49.
Investigators, who have not yet determined Martel's cause of death, say foul play is not suspected but that Martel did not die of natural causes.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.