William Albert Haynes III, known to pro wrestling fans as Billy Jack Haynes, was taken into custody by police in Portland, Oregon, on the morning of Thursday, February 8. He is a suspect in the death of his 85-year-old wife, Janette Becraft.

Portland Police announced that Haynes, age 70, is in custody on February 10, at 3:14 p.m. local time:

He is in police custody at a local hospital while he is being treated for a medical condition unrelated to the homicide or his contact with law enforcement. 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.

Police responded to reports of a shooting in the Lents neighborhood in the southeast part of Portland on Thursday morning.

According the Portland Police, “Officers determined the suspect was inside the home and they requested assistance from the Special Emergency Reaction Team (SERT) and the Crisis Negotiation Team (CNT) in order to safely take the suspect into custody. Officers went inside the home and located an adult female who was deceased. Homicide detectives responded to the scene and began their investigation. There is no ongoing threat to the community.”

Janette Becraft was the mother of Todd Allen Becraft, who was one of Haynes’ best friends, having met when Tod was nine years old. After Tod’s father Dwight Becraft died in 2008, Haynes married Janette, who was born Janette Elaine McLean. Tod, who was a champion bench presser, died on November 14, 2021.

According to the medical examiner, Becraft died of homicide by gunshot wound.

Janette Becraft

Janette Becraft. Courtesy the family, via Portland Police

She had been battling dementia.

It is hardly Haynes’ only brush with the law.

Born July 10, 1953, in Portland, Oregon, Haynes had a turbulent childhood, with his mother and an uncle both dying when he was 15, in what he would claim were gang-related murders.

In later interviews Haynes claimed that he didn’t know who his father was, but was raised by William Haynes Sr., a welder by trade, who went blind from diabetes around 1976, and died in 1993. When Haynes III did enter pro wrestling, he chose the name “Billy Jack” from the films of the same name, starring Tom Laughlin, which his father loved.

At first, young Haynes was a boxer, and for four years, he truly believed that would be his career.

Instead, he met the right people in pro wrestling, including Portland promoter Don Owen and wrestler/promoter Dutch Savage, who directed the athletic Haynes to Stu Hart in Calgary to train.

“Billy came to me at the Portland Sports Arena a couple of times and asked me to break him in, give him a try out. I did some homework on him and found he wasn’t totally upfront about certain personal problems he had in the past, which we will not air on the net,” Savage wrote on his now-defunct website. “I told him to see Don and perhaps he could send him to Calgary for Stu Hart for his baptism. The rest is history.”

In a WWE.com interview, Bret Hart confirmed that Haynes trained in his father’s basement. “Billy Jack Haynes trained with my brothers. I think my dad did train with him a little bit,” said Hart. “My dad would bring in a lot of guys with a little experience and they’d get schooled a little bit by my dad, my brothers, me and Dynamite [Kid]. We would get them ready for the tour. He became a fulltime wrestler for my dad and got the name Billy Jack Haynes up here.”

Billy Jack Haynes became a main event talent in the Pacific Northwest and Florida, from 1984-86, but then the big leagues came calling.

Billy Jack Haynes in action in Florida. Photo courtesy Chris Swisher

Billy Jack Haynes in action in Florida. Photo courtesy Chris Swisher

He joined the WWF in June 1986, and immediately began feuding with then-Intercontinental champion Randy Savage. Then he had a long feud with Hercules Hernandez, including the Battle of the Full-Nelsons at WrestleMania III and a series of bloody chain matches that stood out in the fairly family-friendly promotion.

Superstar Billy Graham was a fan and was a second to Haynes at times. “Man, we had that Full Nelson deal, and it got over real good,” Graham told journalist Scott Williams in 2004. “The guy had a great charisma to the crowd. He did some unbelievable interviews. Working, he was a little snug, but I was always able to talk to him, and have great matches with him. He was a great guy.” In WWF, Haynes also teamed with Ken Patera.

He left WWF in 1988, reportedly because he refused to lose in his hometown of Portland. Over the next decade, he would wrestle and promote around Portland, never reaching stardom again. There were trips to a few other promotions, including the USWA and Mexico, and a blink-and-you-missed-it moment as Black Blood in a mask in WCW as a part of Kevin Sullivan’s stable.

There are plenty of stories about Haynes through the years, including involvement with drugs. In a Facebook post years later, Haynes admitted, “I got lost in Jan 1987 morphine and painpill addiction.”

Health has been an issue for Haynes in recent years. Besides the wear and tear on his body from pro wrestling, he was hospitalized in 2013 due to an aortic aneurysm, and liver and kidney issues. He never had the heart surgery to fix the aortic aneurysm.

Legally, there were some true run-ins with the law, to go with the many rumored ones that have circulated for years:

  • In 2014, with all the knowledge of CTE and concussions, Hayes sued the WWE for “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 2018, the Globe broke the news that Haynes was witness to an unsolved murder in Arkansas of a 17 and 16 year old in 1987. Hayes claimed he was there providing security as a cash drop was being made due to a cocaine deal going on between a “criminal politician” and a supplier.
  • Though he himself did not get into any legal trouble for it, he was beat up and hospitalized in 2006 for skimming money from the a drug smuggling operation he was a mule for.

All in all, Haynes has lived a true up and down life.

“Billy shot himself in the foot most of the time, but he’s still OK in my book,” wrote Savage on his website.

TOP PHOTO: Billy Jack Haynes in his WWF prime and more recently in a Facebook photo from 2015.

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