Wikipedia & the Benoit Murders

Dclan McCullagh has an odd story about recent editing of the Wikipedia entry for professional wrestler, and accused murder, Chris Benoit.

An anonymous edit to Wikipedia could provide a clue about the deaths of former professional wrestler Chris Benoit, his wife and 7-year-old son. Or it could simply be random Wikipedia pranksterism by a University of Connecticut undergraduate….At 12:01 a.m. ET on Monday, the [Benoit Wikipedia] entry was changed to say he missed a championship match because of personal issues “stemming from the death of his wife Nancy.”

After a Wikipedia editor rejected the change, saying a reliable source was needed to back up that claim, the entry was changed again to say Benoit’s absence “according to several pro wrestling Web sites is attributed to the passing of Benoit’s wife, Nancy.”

Police found the bodies, in what they now say was a murder-suicide, around 2:30 p.m. ET. That’s more than 14 hours after the mention of his wife’s death.

After teasing us with the possibility that Benoit, or someone close to him, edited his entry, McCullagh points to strong evidence that the edits were merely examples of good old fashioned Wikipedia vandalism– albeit oddly timed. In a post-script, McCullagh notes:

There’s now a post on Wikinews claiming to be from the author of the original change to Benoit’s entry, and saying “it was an incredible coincidence.”

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