Benoit's son's 'Fragile X' disability disputed

By Jason Bronis

The Associated Press

ATLANTA - A prosecutor investigating the apparent murder-suicide of pro wrestler Chris Benoit and his wife and son is questioning reports that the son had an inherited form of mental retardation called Fragile X Syndrome.

A spokesperson for World Wrestling Entertainment is also backing away from earlier statements made by company officials about the diagnosis for Daniel Benoit.

Fragile X Syndrome, a disorder affecting the X chromosome, is the most common inherited cause of mental retardation and associated developmental disabilities.

In a statement provided to the AP on Tuesday, Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard said 'a source' has reviewed some of Daniel's medical records and 'they do not mention any pre-existing mental or physical impairment.'

Ballard added that family members deny Daniel suffered from the condition, and that the 7-year-old's teachers also deny reports that he was physically undersized.

Two days after the bodies of Benoit, his wife, Nancy, and son were found last month, WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt told the AP that the child had Fragile X Syndrome. He said the wrestling organization learned from the couple's friends and relatives that the Benoits argued over whether the wrestler should stay home more to take care of Daniel.

In an interview with the AP Tuesday, WWE spokesman Gary Davis said McDevitt first heard Fragile X Syndrome linked to Daniel Benoit in a Canadian news report.

Davis said McDevitt was 'confident' that the information was accurate, after speaking with other WWE employees who knew Benoit. Although, Davis said, none of those employees specifically mentioned Fragile X Syndrome.

'A lot of people got caught up in the idea that Daniel had Fragile X Syndrome,' Davis told the AP by phone from the company's Stamford, Conn., headquarters. 'We were just as caught up as everyone else.'

Davis said WWE has no information to contradict Ballard's statement.

'I think we have to go with what the district attorney has said as being the best, up-to-date information available right now,' Davis said.

Ballard did not return multiple phone messages seeking additional comment Tuesday.

Attorney Joseph Saia, who represented Nancy Benoit in a 2003 divorce complaint she filed against her husband, also said the child 'looked and acted normal.'

Saia, who saw Daniel 'four or five' times in 2003, said Nancy Benoit never mentioned the disability to him.

'I'm sure in our preparations (for court), she would have talked about it,' Saia told the AP.