According to the Portland Tribune, former professional wrestler Billy Jack Haynes took the WWE to court regarding "egregious mistreatment of its wrestlers for its own benefit, as well as its concealment and denial of medical research and evidence concerning traumatic brain injuries suffered by WWE wrestlers," per a 42-page lawsuit filed Oct. 23, 2014, in Portland's U.S. District Court.
Specifically, the lawsuit referenced Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) which is a "progressive degenerative disease affecting people who have suffered repeated concussions and traumatic brain injuries," via Indiana University School of Medicine. Symptoms include but are not limited to aggression, erratic behavior, and difficulty controlling impulses. Ten years later, Haynes was taken into custody in connection to the death of his wife. Is this another Chris Benoit situation? Here's what we know.
Where is Billy Jack Haynes now? He's in jail.
On Feb. 8, 2024, police were called to a home in the Lents neighborhood of Portland, Ore. after gunshots were reported by neighbors, via KOIN. Law enforcement arrived at the house a little before 10:00 a.m. and they were greeted with a standoff by a resident who wasn't interested in cooperating. Two hours after their arrival, the man turned himself over to the police. At this time, authorities were able to enter the house where they were met with a grizzly scene.
The house is owned by Haynes and his wife, Janette Becraft. Haynes refused to exit his home after police requested he do so. Presumably, his lack of compliance was because Becraft was dead from apparent gunshot wounds. Haynes was taken to the hospital due to a medical emergency not related to the death of his wife, via KGW8.
There are echoes of Chris Benoit in this incident.
A parallel can be drawn between Haynes allegedly killing his wife and the double murder and suicide involving another former professional wrestler. Chris Benoit took the lives of his wife, his 7-year-old son, and himself in June 2008, per ABC News. Police found anabolic steroids at the crime scene which partially explained his terrifying and unorthodox behavior.
Six months later, "tests, conducted by Julian Bailes of the Sports Legacy Institute, show that Benoit's brain was so severely damaged it resembled the brain of an 85-year-old Alzheimer's patient." He was only 40 years old. "The person that did this is not the man we know and love," said Benoit's father, Michael, on Good Morning America. When it was suggested Micahel turn his son's brain over to Bailes, the head of neurosurgery at West Virginia University and former Pittsburgh Steelers team physician obliged.
Bailes's research had uncovered a "constant theme in the failure of their personal lives, their business lives, depression and then ultimately suicide," when it came to studying other brains with similar damage. We'll be keeping an eye out on the Haynes story though finding a connection between his alleged actions and brain damage won't be possible anytime soon.