Wrestler's diary shows mind-set before he killed family, himself

ATLANTA - Journal entries written by Chris Benoit after the death of a friend and fellow wrestler in 2005 reveal that he was wracked with grief and acutely aware of his own mortality in the weeks before he died, according to a lawyer representing Benoit's father.

Cary Ichter, who knew Benoit for years and is now representing Michael Benoit in the legal process to decide who his son's heirs will be, provided details from the journal entries on Friday. He did not make available copies of the journal for review.

Ichter said the journal was a series of 'open letters' to his best friend, wrestler Eddie Guerrero, who died in 2005 of an enlarged heart. Ichter said the journal was a gift from Benoit's wife, Nancy.

'She thought that affording him an opportunity to write down his feelings would be cathartic for him,' Ichter said, adding that the entries were written over roughly a six-week period.

Ichter said Benoit was 'upset, very upset' about Guerrero's death, and that he also wrote about how much he loved Guerrero and what good friends they were.

Ichter notes that at one point Benoit wrote to his friend, 'I will be with you soon,' an apparent nod to his own mortality.

'It showed that he was very depressed,' Ichter said of the entries.

But there were also entries that reflected Benoit's relationship with his family. Benoit had warm words for his wife and son, Daniel, for whom he had 'very deep affection,' Ichter said.

Ichter said a neighbor of Chris and Nancy Benoit found the journal in the trash after the police and family had gone through the Benoits' house following the deaths of Chris Benoit, his wife and son. Ichter said the neighbor later turned the diary over to Michael Benoit.

The father had made reference to the diary in interviews earlier this month, saying it was 'written by someone who was extremely disturbed at the time.'

Michael Benoit is permanent administrator to Chris Benoit's estate.

Authorities say it could be months before the court determines the heirs. Whether Nancy Benoit died before Daniel will determine whether control of millions of dollars goes to Chris Benoit's two children from a previous marriage or to relatives on Nancy Benoit's side.

The journal could now become evidence in the ongoing estate litigation to decide whether Benoit's children from a previous marriage or his wife's family will be his inheritors, Ichter said. The Benoits left no will.

Prosecutors have said Benoit, 40, strangled his wife with a cord, used a choke hold to strangle his 7-year-old son, placed Bibles next to the bodies and hanged himself on a piece of exercise equipment the weekend of June 22.