Steroids in David Jacobs' system at time of death


by By JASON TRAHAN / The Dallas Morning News

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:49 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 16 at 2:50 PM

File / DMN
David Jacobs (right) walks to the U.S. Probation Office in Sherman in May 2008.



Convicted steroids trafficker David Jacobs' autopsy results show he had a high level of testosterone and steroids in his system when he died, but experts differ on whether " 'roid rage" made him kill his former girlfriend and then commit suicide.

Mr. Jacobs had more than five times the amount of testosterone in his system than allowed by standard sports testing. He tested positive for the synthetic steroid nandrolone, according to an autopsy report released by the Collin County medical examiner's office Tuesday.

Nandrolone, commonly used by athletes to help build muscle mass, usually inhibits the body's natural testosterone production, so the presence of both is evidence he was "stacking," or using multiple substances, said Richard J. Auchus, associate professor of internal medicine and endocrinology at U.T. Southwestern in Dallas who studies steroids.

"It's clear that testosterone increases aggressive behavior," Dr. Auchus said. "That's why teens tend to exhibit risk-taking. When you make the level super-physiologic, there's a wide range, but in general there's an increase in aggressiveness."

Police found Mr. Jacobs, 35, an amateur bodybuilder and personal trainer, and his former girlfriend, Amanda Earhart-Savell, 30, a professional figure competitor, dead the morning of June 5 in his Plano home.

The autopsies showed he died from a contact gunshot wound to the left temple and right abdomen. She was shot seven times: once in the back of the head, once in the right upper back and five times in the chest. Police found a.40-caliber semiautomatic Glock 22 near Mr. Jacobs' body.

Toxicology tests found no traces of steroids in Ms. Earhart-Savell's system. She tested positive for amphetamine. Her family has said she was taking weight loss pills in preparation for an upcoming bodybuilding competition.

The autopsy reports also showed evidence of a physical struggle. Ms. Earhart-Savell had contusions on her forehead and right thigh. Mr. Jacobs had "scattered abrasions and contusions" on his right hand and knuckles. A long, brown hair was found on his chest, which was shaved, the report stated.

Friends and family theorize that Mr. Jacobs may have shot Ms. Earhart-Savell after he somehow confirmed his long-held suspicions that she had been dating former Cowboys lineman Matt Lehr, now playing for the New Orleans Saints. Mr. Jacobs had told federal authorities and the National Football League that Mr. Lehr was a former steroids customer of his. Mr. Lehr has denied this, and has not been charged with any crime.

Since federal authorities arrested Mr. Jacobs and dismantled his international steroids trafficking network in April 2007, Mr. Jacobs had said publicly he no longer used or sold steroids. He apparently began selling again in the weeks before he died after his online supplements store foundered.

Police found 146 vials of steroids, including what's believed to be nandrolone and testosterone, in his home on Honey Creek Lane.

"If he was on and off the substances, that would be the worst possibly scenario for contributing to aggressive and irrational behavior," Dr. Auchus said.

However, Charles Yesalis, a professor emeritus at Penn State University and steroids expert, said it's unfair to blame acts of violence solely on " 'roid rage" or steroid use.

"You have to look at a person's history," Dr. Yesalis said. " There are people who commit very violent acts because of broken marriages, after losing their jobs, where steroids aren't involved at all."

Mr. Jacobs "had severe emotional issues and could have had a tipping point event," he added. "I'm not ruling steroids out, but for experts just to say it played a role, I wouldn't be so bold."< /p>

Dr. Auchus at UT Southwestern said steroids are not an absolute predictor of violence, but they can play a role.

"We all have the tendency to behave irrationally and seek vengeance for things that are done to us, but most of us are able to restrain our emotions when we think about the consequences," he said.

"But someone who had this testosterone excess sometimes can't restrain himself as well, and so that's the kind of way I would look at it It makes their breaking point a little lower."

Plano police would not comment on the autopsy results, said spokesman Rick McDonald. Tests for gunshot residue to determine if Ms. Earhart-Savell fired a weapon are pending, as are other investigative tests, and could take months, he said.