A two-hour standoff with police ended with tragedy when a former professional wrestler’s wife was found dead and he was taken into custody.
Thursday in the Lents neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, officers responded to a report of a gunshot to find the resident, later identified as 70-year-old William Albert Haynes, to be non-cooperative. As a result, the Special Emergency Reaction Team (SERT) and the Crisis Negotiation Team (CNT) were dispatched to the home of the former WWE and WrestleMania III star better known as Billy Jack Haynes.
After the neighborhood was put under a shelter-in-place order, the lengthy standoff ended with the retired wrestler surrendering to the authorities who then discovered the man’s 85-year-old wife Janette Becraft had died from a single gunshot wound, later ruled a homicide by the Medical Examiner.
— Portland Police (@PortlandPolice) February 10, 2024
According to KPTV, Becraft was suffering from dementia and Haynes had been in the hospital with broken ribs resulting from a fall before he checked himself out to be with his wife.
“I was staying with her for a couple of days while he was in the hospital,” neighbor Breelyn Matthieu told the outlet. “He said he came home because he couldn’t stand being away from her.”
“He is a sweetheart of a guy,” noted neighbor Steve Odri who couldn’t believe what had happened. “He told me ‘Come on by anytime you’d like.’ We’ll sit down and have a beer. He was just your average Joe guy to me, and one of my favorite heroes when I was a kid.”
Odri also raised the issue of numerous injuries suffered during Haynes’ career that brought it to an end in the mid-90s, including numerous concussions that were listed in a 2014 class action lawsuit led alongside more than 50 former wrestlers against the WWE alleging they were not warned of the risk of repeated head injuries and that the organization had been fully aware.
The suit claimed the WWE was responsible for the “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.”
In 2021 the Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal from the wrestlers putting an end to the case that had been initiated prior to the National Football League acknowledging a link between the sport and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), prompting their pledge of $100 million toward research related to the condition.
In a tribute to her mother, Becraft’s daughter from her previous marriage, Kim Becraft Finlay, posted to Facebook, “You are now flying with the Angels. They are lucky to have such a beautiful soul. Love you, Mom.”
The Portland Police Bureau stated Saturday, “Once he is released from the hospital, which may be days from now, he is expected to be booked into jail. Haynes’ charges will be released once he is booked.”
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