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June 28, 2007

Wikipedia & The Chris Benoit Murder-Suicide Twist

By Li Evans

Wikipediachrisbenoit Wikipedia has found itself under fire again.  This time it's all about a high profile double murder suicide.  Over the past weekend, Chris Benoit a professional wrestler with the WWE, strangled his wife, suffocated his 7 year old son and then took his own life by hanging himself.  Now you are probably wondering how the heck is Wikipedia involved with this.

Chris Benoit, also known as the "Rabid Wolverine", has an extensive Wikipedia entry.  Approximately 14 hours before the police found any of the three bodies, the Wikipedia entry for Benoit was altered, not once but a few times and the alterations were questioned.  The alteration/edit mentioned Nancy's death as the reason for Benoit missing the matches in Texas.  So someone who knew something before the police did, went in and added Nancy's death.  Did they really think someone wasn't going to notice that?

To add further to this the story, Wikipedia and the authorities have tracked down the I.P. address of the entry.  The twist?  The I.P. address comes from Stanford, CT.  If you are a wresting fan (yes, believe it or not I am), you'll know that the head quarters for the WWE are located in Stanford.

Update:  It seems an editor at Wikipedia who lives in the Stanford, CT area has confessed to writing the post. This probably even goes more to the point about "anonymous" editors and posters on Wikipedia.   (hat tip to Simon Heseltine for im'ing me this link)

Benoit had text messaged several friends over the weekend that the murders took place.  Whether those friends were in Connecticut or in Texas has yet to be verified in the media or by law enforcement.  The plausible theory would be that there's someone out there Benoit did message and that person altered the Wikipedia entry.  Of course, Benoit himself could have connected through a VPN that the WWE might have and altered the entry himself, regardless of Wikipedia's "rules" about editing your own entry.

This isn't the first time Wikipedia has had to deal with what it terms as "vandalism" to entries of celebrities.  Back in February, when Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental drug overdose, her entry was edited/defaced as well, although this entry was not as eerie or crucial to an ongoing investigation.  Let's not forget the Wikpedia article that sad Sinbad was dead, too.  All of these instances still really point to the critical flaws in Wikipedia's system.

Wikipedia has since locked down the Chris Benoit entry from editing due to "vandalism", but someone with "official power" from Wikipedia is updating it with all the "official" information that has been release.  When it comes to celebrities and "news makers", wouldn't it be wise for Wikipedia to put some kind of system in place to allow only for established, authenticated editors to be able to edit these types of articles?  Then again, if their system wasn't flawed, the authorities would be hot on the trail of this "lead."

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