I’ve applied to the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office for additional records in the Chris Benoit case that the authorities now acknowledge should have been included in the original release of materials to the media and the public. Awareness of the existence of these files resulted from questions I was raising. Their omission seems to be an honest mistake. Here’s the background.
Last week I asked one of the sheriff’s investigators whether the subpoena to Verizon Wireless, Chris and Nancy’s cell phone company, had included a demand for electronic voicemail records. The sheriff had released phone logs of calls, which included printouts of text messages. But if an actual audio record existed for voice messages — not just secondary notes on the phone numbers and times and duration of those calls — I wanted to study them.
The investigator told me that Verizon had indeed been asked for voicemails. However, because of a technical problem, the company said it was unable to provide them. (It turns out that the text message log in the open records was patched together by technicians who went into the cell phones themselves.)
However, the investigator also said that there were messages on the Benoit home answering machine. Those should have been burned onto a CD and made available in February. The law firm that is coordinating records requests for the sheriff has been notified, and the answering machine calls should be in the public domain shortly.
My post about new support for WWE’s Sunday timeline stemmed from what the investigator told me I can expect to hear in those messages — a total of 23 of them, I believe. Several of the calls were from John Laurinaitis (”Johnny Ace”) and his assistant. Even hearing about all this second-hand, I had the immediate interpretation that a series of calls from those two people on Sunday night and Monday morning indicated real human concern for whatever had happened to Benoit. And in good faith, I so reported that.
Of course, good faith is a foreign concept for wrestling industry apologists, who prefer to jump to conclusions, preferably exculpatory ones. Fan websites that had been studiously blacking out all the exclusive news emanating lately from this blog quickly cited my preliminary report on the new evidence as a sure sign that WWE would be cleared by the investigation into its activities over the course of the Benoit death weekend.
As for the absence of evidence that WWE officials actually booked Benoit onto a Sunday morning flight from Atlanta to Houston? The text message from Scott James to Benoit on Sunday morning, asking “When do u land?”, even though James had received weird texts from Benoit hours earlier? The 30-plus-hour gap between when James and Chavo Guerrero picked up Benoit’s farewell messages, and when the WWE timeline says company executives learned of them? Aw, hell, leave poor Vince McMahon alone.
As Nathanael West wrote in his great Hollywood novel, The Day of the Locust, it is hard to summon outrage at the need for people to make fantasy their supreme value. It is hard to get angry, “but it is easy to sigh.”