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Introduction (January 28)
EVERYTHING THEY DIDN’T WANT TO KNOW AND WERE AFRAID TO ASK
The media frenzy surrounding the June 2007 double murder/suicide of World Wrestling Entertainment star Chris Benoit intensified when Internet sleuths determined that Benoit’s biography was edited at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, June 25, to note that he had missed the previous night’s wrestling show in Houston because of personal circumstances “stemming from the death of his wife Nancy.” This was more than half-a-day before the Benoit family’s bodies were discovered in their home outside Atlanta.
The Wikipedia insertion was quickly traced to Matthew T. Greenberg, a 19-year-old Stamford resident who had just completed his freshman year at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. Because Greenberg lived in the headquarters city of WWE, an already curious story exploded.
It quickly fizzled, however, with the conclusion by the investigating authorities that it was all an awful coincidence.
A report by the Associated Press facilitated “closure” with the incorrect statement that the Wiki edit preceded the earlier-publicized transmissions of Benoit’s final text messages to two wrestler-friends. In fact, Benoit had sent those texts – and they were also, almost certainly, received by the wrestler colleagues – early Sunday morning, as much as 20 hours before Greenberg inputted the note about Nancy.
Further, the AP reporter who wrote the account misstating the chronology of the text messages and the Wikipedia mystery based his story largely on conversations with WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt, The reporter, Harry Weber, would tell me, “[T]here was confusion caused by police, WWE attorney and others as to the timeline,” and “I do believe some of the confusion caused by the timeline discrepancies provided by the WWE were [sic] intentional.” See “Jerry McDevitt, Lawyer for Linda McMahon’s WWE, Gets Mad at Me Again (Part 2),” http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/01/22/jerry-mcdevitt-lawyer-for-linda-mcmahon%E2%80%99s-wwe-gets-mad-at-me-again-part-2/.
On June 29, Stamford Detective Tim Dolan questioned Greenberg for 25 minutes. The interrogation can be viewed on my YouTube channel in three parts:
Arguably, Dolan never asked Greenberg the key question of whether Greenberg had a connection with WWE. Inarguably, the detective failed to press in any depth whether Greenberg and the company had a direct or indirect connection.
Most pointedly, Dolan did not ask Greenberg at all about Chavo Guerrero, one of the two wrestlers to whom Chris Benoit had sent his final texts. The reason this omission was significant was that the Internet sleuths had already reported in considerable detail on past Wikipedia pranks of Greenberg and his circle of college friends – most notably, racist and misogynist juvenalia about, respectively, basketball player Ron Artest and wrestling personality/actress Stacy Kiebler. Yet Greenberg also recently had removed scurrilous vandalism at the Wikipedia page for Chavo Guerrero – raising the obvious question of whether Greenberg and Guerrero might have had a friendship or acquaintance.
Quoting Captain Richard Conklin, the Stamford Advocate reported, without naming Greenberg, that he had been interviewed by the local police on videotape. The Advocate reporter, Zach Lowe (now with American Lawyer Media), would tell me that he asked Conklin for the video at the time but was turned down.
In February 2008, eight months later, Greenberg was named in the report of the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia, closing the Benoit criminal investigation. According to the summary, Stamford had forwarded, and Fayette County had attached to the public file, copies of both the interrogation of Greenberg and the forensic examination of his computer (on which the Stamford police were assisted by a detective with the Darien police).
But I discovered that these records were not included in the Georgia open records. That led to a tangled freedom-of-information fight with police departments in two states. More on that in the next post.
NEXT: Stamford Police “Accidentally” Fail to Give the Georgia Investigators with Wikipedia Hacker Video Interrogation