An autopsy of the brain of former 49ers seventh-round draft pick Phillip Adams, who allegedly killed six people before shooting himself over eight months ago, showed severe chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), according to Boston University.
Adams, 32, had Stage 2 CTE according to neuropathologist Ann McKee, with Stage 4 being the most severe. The CTE was most severe in Adams’ frontal lobes, similar to former NFL player Aaron Hernandez, damage that is known to cause “violent, impulsive or explosive behavior, a ‘short fuse,’ and lack of self-control,” according to McKee.
In early April, Adams allegedly shot and killed six people in his hometown of Rock Hill, S.C. Robert Lesslie, a 70-year-old doctor; his wife, Barbara Lesslie, 69; and two grandchildren, Adah, 9, and Noah, 5.
Two HVAC technicians who were working on the Lesslies’ home — James Lewis and Robert Shook, both 38 — were also killed, according to the Washington Post.
A motive has not yet been established for the crimes, though some investigators have speculated that the killings could have been tied Adams following a new religion or ideology before the crimes took place. Adams’ sister, Lauren, told USA Today that Adams behavior had changed drastically over the final few months he was alive.
“His mental health degraded fast and terribly bad,’’ Lauren said, via USA Today.
“There was unusual behavior. I’m not going to get into all [the symptoms]. We definitely did notice signs of mental illness that was extremely concerning, that was not like we had ever seen.”
Adams played in the NFL for six-years and was drafted by the 49ers in 2010. Adams played just one season in San Francisco, appearing in 15 games, and played 78 games in his pro career. Adams began playing organized football at 7 years old.