On May 1st, 2003, the wrestling world mourned the death of Miss Elizabeth, Liz Ann Hulette. She was just 42 years old when she died in the townhouse she shared with her boyfriend, Lex Luger. Here, he opens up about the details of her death, his eventual downward spiral, and the redemption he has found since.
Miss Elizabeth, First Lady of Wrestling
Liz Hulette will forever be tied to her professional and personal relationship with Randall Mario Poffo, who was better known to fans as “Macho Man” Randy Savage. The couple got divorced in August of 1992 and went their separate ways after what some would call a sometimes tumultuous six-year marriage. Elizabeth later turned up in WCW in 1996 and began to participate in different angles involving her ex-husband. In 1999, she began working on and off with Lex Luger until May 2000, when she exited the company and never made a TV appearance for another wrestling promotion again.
Fans had always questioned whether Luger was confronted by Randy Savage when the "Total Package" started dating her. In an interview with Highspots, Luger said that he truly believed Randy was the kind of person that if he had a problem with you, he’d tell it to you in your face. Still, Luger claims that Randy never spoke to him about his relationship with Elizabeth and never heard of him speaking negatively about it to anyone else, either. In WCW around 1999, Gorgeous George (Stephanie Bellars) was the Macho Man’s girlfriend, and he seemed not to care one way or the other whom his ex-wife was with.
In Luger’s interview with Sean Mooney on the Prime Time with Sean Mooney podcast, he said that both he and Elizabeth were married when they began flirting with one another in WCW. What started as partying after the shows amongst "the boys," with the Nitro Girls and everyone staying in the same hotel when traveling, soon turned into a full-blown extramarital affair. Elizabeth ultimately divorced her second husband, Cary Lubetsky, a South Florida attorney, and decided to move in with Luger in Marietta, Georgia.
"I thought I was managing and juggling the situation, but I wasn’t," says Luger. "Sometimes when you think you’ve got a grip on life, you really don’t. The people I thought were friends were users and abusers. The ‘work hard / play hard’ mentality wound up catching up to me with the play hard."
Luger believes that the real problems started when he began taking opiates, which are drugs derived from the poppy plant. He then gradually began using pain killers, many times combining them with alcohol. He readily owns up and says that they, as wrestlers, never "had to" take those pain pills, but instead they "chose to" and that through bad decisions on his own, he became addicted to drugs and alcohol and never saw it coming.
The Death of Miss Elizabeth
“Miss Elizabeth” Liz Hulette also participated in this lifestyle of drugs and alcohol while with Lex Luger, but according to him, "None of us anticipated overdosing. It’s a tragedy with what happened with Elizabeth."
He recounts the details of that tragic night, as told to Sean Mooney on his Prime Time podcast.
"I had spent the day with my son, and later spent the night watching movies with Elizabeth, popping some pills, drinking some vodka…" He continues, "Right before I called 911, she was standing next to the microwave, and I was heating us some Boston Market meatloaf and mashed potatoes, one of our favorites. She had gotten up to the microwave to help out, and I told her, "I got this, Liz. Sit down; I got this." Once he took her the food, Luger saw that she was unresponsive and thought she had fallen asleep. "One minute, she was fine standing next to me at the microwave, the next minute I thought she was sleeping on the couch and I told her, ‘Hey Liz, wake up, eat your grub." But she didn’t respond.
"Boy, she passed out," Luger thought. He proceeded to shake her up a little to wake her up. Still, she did not respond.
"I’ll never forget. I saw that her eyes were completely dilated, and right away, I knew something was really bad."
Luger ran to the phone and called 911, and since the fire department was right down the street from his house, the paramedics were there within a couple of minutes. When they arrived, Luger was still trying to do CPR on her, even though he admits that he didn’t know how to do it. That’s when the paramedics took over. Since they had arrived so quickly and were able to cart her off, Luger believed that she would make it. But while sitting in his front yard, they told him the bad news that she indeed had not pulled through.
"You never know how dangerous drugs are. They’re like Russian Roulette," Luger later admitted.
In a rather tense shoot interview circa 2005 done by Highspots, Luger frustratingly recounts more details of what happened that tragic night.
"For a mysterious reason, during a 911 medical emergency, a bunch of police showed up at my place." Luger claims he wasn’t arrested and that he sat on his front lawn for three hours until he was told that Elizabeth had died. He believes that they had known this for at least two hours. They wouldn’t let him back in and told him that they wanted to take a few pictures for evidence, and then he’d be able to re-enter his townhouse.
Luger then asked the police, "Am I under arrest or something?" He says that they told him that he wasn’t but that he was "upset," to which Luger admits that yes, he was "very distraught" of course, and the police indicated that the best thing was for him not to go in the house, but instead go to the police station.
While there, the police got him a Diet Coke, and he says that they wouldn’t let him leave. The preliminary autopsy by the forensic investigator was done, and "everything was cool, and there was no foul play," according to Luger. They were going to let him go, but they then proceeded to tell him that there was "a twist." They informed Luger that they had "found something," even though Luger says that they told him that they were going to "finish the scene" and weren’t going to go into any of his personal effects, and he’d be free to go home."
The twist was that they had found a lot of drugs. Lex Luger was charged with 13 felony counts of possession of a controlled substance and one misdemeanor count of distribution of dangerous drugs. Amongst the drugs they found were anabolic steroids, Oxycontin, and synthetic growth hormones, to name a few.
The next day, Luger was released on a $27,500 bail. He pleaded guilty to the drug charges and was given a $1,000 fine, sentenced to five years probation, and required to submit to periodic drug testing.
"It happened. It was a tumultuous time… A lot of drama goes on when you’re making bad decisions in life. Things go downhill and quickly."
– Lex Luger
Domestic Dispute Between Lex Luger and Miss Elizabeth
In a recent interview for TheHannibalTV with Devon Nicholson, Lex Luger admits that he and his girlfriend, Miss Elizabeth, did argue a couple of weeks before her death. Still, he’s not sure what he felt that the neighbor saw that prompted their call to the police. According to Luger, when the cops arrived, he and Liz explained that the marks on her face were from walking the dogs a week prior. She had gotten tangled with the leashes of a German Shepard and a Husky puppy they owned at the time and had fallen "like a ton of bricks," and injuring her face. He says that Liz had been crying because of the argument, but "it wasn’t a physical thing." When talking about the Cobb County Police, Luger believes that he was on their radar.
Luger coined a phrase and says that he would get "Lex Lugered," referring to when for the smallest thing, an exaggerated number of cop cars would show up to his house just trying to find a way to send him to jail, according to him. "One car shows up, then there’s seven more, and then an ambulance and even a fire truck! ‘You guys gotta be kidding me!’ It was the most ridiculous stuff I’ve ever seen in my life. Just unbelievable."
He also felt that the cops, on their numerous visits to the house, genuinely enjoyed "hanging out" because he was very well known at the time. Luger, in turn, was not amused with dozens of cop cars constantly showing up and making a scene.
The battery charges were dropped after she died. According to an explanation Luger says his lawyer gave him, the injuries were deemed abrasional and not by an impact like he was being accused of. At the time, he estimated that he had 17 counts of felony charges based on the number of drugs in his house. Other sources say that they were 13.
A few years after her death, an agitated Lex Luger responded to accusations of him striking Liz saying, "If I were to sock 150lbs Elizabeth, I’d be afraid I’d kill her. That’s the stupidest, most ridiculous rumor that I could ever imagine being portrayed!"
The Autopsy of Miss Elizabeth
In the initial autopsy report by forensic investigator Hal Bennett [which can be viewed here], he wrote that a detective O’Connell advised that the victim (Elizabeth) had been observed drinking vodka and taking somas and Loritabs several hours before being brought into the hospital emergency room and that detectives were en route to her residence to verify circumstances with her boyfriend.
The forensic investigator then wrote, "Examination of the scalp shows no signs of injury or trauma. The examination of the victim’s face shows bruising around the right eye. The color of the bruise reveals it is aged."
The question now arose: Why did they have detectives monitoring their movement? Were they really "on their radar," as Luger claims? And how did the detective conclusively know what pills she had taken before an autopsy report was performed?
If one reads the autopsy report that came afterward, performed by Dr. Brian Frist, Chief Medical Examiner of Cobb County, it mentions a "yellow- purple bruise is noted over the right cheek," and "a purple bruise over the left lateral forehead" and "right orbital ecchymosis (discoloration of the skin resulting from underneath bleeding) is noted."
Even with this more thorough examination, Elizabeth Hulette’s cause of death was determined to be due to acute toxicity- multiple drugs, and the manner of death was deemed as an accident.
Watch: Eric Bischoff gives his take on the “discreet” relationship between Miss Elizabeth and Lex Luger
The Gradual Downward Spiral of Lex Luger Leading to Thoughts of Suicide
Lex Luger admits to having done steroids in the past, and he later gradually became addicted to many other substances, including painkillers and alcohol. Mike Mooneyham reports that Luger told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he was one of 700 patients from several different sports of a California doctor who would arrange for steroids and human growth hormones to arrive at his door chilled on ice. He would buy a six-month supply of controlled substances when "upping his stash." This was so he wouldn’t have to buy them off the street constantly. He admits that he was "a pill-popper” and abused alcohol really bad, coming close to overdosing dozens of times. He attributes having a fast metabolism to saving his life on numerous occasions.
But the lifestyle he and Liz were living sadly caught up to them.
While in jail, Luger remembers thinking, "Wow, this is a really dark time." His lowest point was when he contemplated suicide, thinking about a way to end it. He thought about climbing a divider wall that was in his cell, put his hands behind his head, and falling headfirst on the cement floor to end it all.
This whole incident with Liz would have been a wake-up call for most people, but these "dark times" (as he calls them) went on several years after her death. He now claims that he is "a miracle of God" because he is still alive after all he put himself through. Luger went into what he calls "self-medication mode," although he wasn’t trying to kill himself, he admits that he went down a path of destruction, and it’s a miracle he didn’t overdose. Luger wound up isolating himself and living in an Extended Stay hotel, got divorced from his wife, and his personal life, as he admits, became a "complete train wreck by my own bad decisions."
In 2005, Luger tried to come back to wrestling by cleaning himself up and going back to the gym. The goal was to work in Winnipeg, Canada. But because he was a convicted felon, his papers weren’t in order, and he needed to get a signature from a judge to leave the country. According to him, after being taken off the plane along with Buff Bagwell and Scott Steiner for supposedly committing acts of disturbance, he was turned away at the border and sent back to jail for four more months. Looking back at all this, he claims, "It was the best thing that could have happened to me."
Lex Luger on Redemption and Being Able to Forgive Himself
While in jail after his attempted comeback, Luger met a persistent jail chaplain, a Baptist pastor named Steve Baskin. For many visits, Luger would wave him away, without any interest in speaking with him. Trying to connect with Luger, the chaplain began to smuggle small containers of peanut butter for him. Luger would complain that he was always hungry.
Once outside, Luger went to live once again at the Extended Stay he’d been living at before and ran into Pastor Baskin at a nearby Gold’s Gym. He asked Luger to help him get in shape so that he could become a physical trainer. Luger thought that if he trained him hard enough, Baskin would never want to set foot in the gym again. He was wrong. A couple of months later, with this pastor’s help, he says that his life was transformed. Over time, he had felt redeemed and had been able to forgive himself. “I felt like God was speaking through him to me. I could see all my stuff on the sand with no foundation. All my life was built on shifting sand and was nothing more than a house of cards. My empire was not built on a rock, but sand."
According to Lanny Poffo, Miss Elizabeth was Responsible for Her Own Actions
It took Luger a long time to turn his life around, and now he is trying to make sure others do not fall into the dark hole that he found himself. He admits, "I move forward in my life in a direction with a purpose that only God can give us, and I’m very thankful for that. This shows that there is hope for any of us."
More Trials and Tribulations for Lex Luger
In 2007, Luger suffered what is called a Spinal Infarction. This is essentially a spinal stroke due to a disruption in the blood supply to the spine. He was paralyzed from the neck down, and the initial prognosis was that he was going to be a quadriplegic needing to be bathed, fed, cleaned, and driven around for the rest of his life.
When he heard from his doctors that he was going to be a quadriplegic, he thought, "Lord, I love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I trust you, Lord, with all my heart, I don’t understand this, but I trust you."
“I was trying to be 27 at age 47, but God had to get rid of my vanity,” Luger said. “I had trouble letting go of the old Lex physically. My human fleshly nature didn’t want to let go of what had come to be billed as ‘The Total Package.’ I guess God had to help me get rid of the last remnant of that vanity and pride.” The new "streamlined and defined" Lex Luger lost about 70lbs of muscle, but he felt a new purpose in his life.
"I am trying to help others avoid what happened in my life, and my family and friends that I devastated." He continues, "I dishonored my profession, my community, all because I couldn’t control myself and got this sick other lifestyle and drug abuse. I want to help our kids stay away from that.
"I was making millions of dollars and had a lot of fancy stuff, and never realized why I wasn’t satisfied. I chased a life of folly, a course of trivial pursuit. I had a feeling of invincibility."
In 2008, Lex Luger began to recover and got to the point where he could stand for short periods of time. By 2010, Luger was able to walk again. He believes that God walked him through this and that the injury gave him a whole new perspective in life and helped him have empathy for people. He feels that it was an incredible time of growth for him as a person. He said, “the old Luger was just about me, myself, and I. Now I know that it isn’t just about me."
Even though Luger believes that years of football and wrestling were a factor, his doctors did not know if the spinal cord injury was brought upon by the years of engaging in those collision sports. It has also been known to happen to people who never engaged in such activities.
"I sometimes miss the old Lex that walks into a gym and benchpresses half the gym, but if I could go back, I wouldn’t change a thing because God sent me so many wonderful things in my life as a result of the injury. He’s got me in a good place."
Lex Luger on His New Mission and Relationship With His Family
"No matter what I accomplished, or how much money I made, no matter how well-built I was, I always felt like something was missing. I didn’t know what it was. It was the relationship with God, the man who designed me and gave me the breath of life. Now I feel a sense of peace and purpose in my life that I never had before. My mission is his mission."
Despite his strong relationship with God, Lex Luger doesn’t have a strong relationship with his ex-wife and children anymore, even though he has tried to reach out on several occasions. He understands that there are consequences for the things you do in your past. "I’m in a better place, and they might be happy for me, but that doesn’t mean that they want to be an integral part of my life." He continues, "I hope that they get to know Jesus as I do and that I’ll see them in Heaven and be able to spend eternity with them. But if it’s not in God’s plan, I won’t complain."
Lex Luger on the Responsibility He Feels Towards the Death of Miss Elizabeth
The guilt Lex Luger feels for the death of “Miss Elizabeth” Liz Hulette remains. "I take a lot of responsibility for that- my influence in her life," he admits. "Her little heart and body couldn’t take what I was doing."
Over the years, Luger has been criticized by many and even hated by some for "letting Liz die and being abusive towards her until the very end." To comments like these, Luger responds:
"People will say what they want to say about you. Boy, if they get on you in the news or if they want to take something to be true and make it sound like it’s true, they can really run with it, man. [About hitting Liz], my lawyer asked me not to respond to it, so I kept quiet throughout it all. I kept quiet about Liz’s death out of respect for her family, who had asked me not to say anything. Out of the love and respect I had for her, I never responded to any of that bullshit."
When asked, “Do you feel that they were questioning you or putting blame on you for her death?” Luger responded, "I can’t stop people from doing that. But I know in my heart what she felt towards me and what I felt towards her. There’s nothing but love there and…” At this moment, Luger pauses, shakes his head, and in a very poignant moment, the camera focuses on him for about 15 seconds as he seems to almost break out in tears, but is able to contain himself. Then, the video stops.
You can learn more about Lex Luger in his book, "Wrestling With the Devil: The True Story of a World Champion Professional Wrestler."
If you enjoyed this piece, be sure not to miss these recommended articles on our site:
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