Dr. Ann McKee, said a brain examination on Phillip Adams revealed Stage 2 chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which she linked back to Adams' 20 years spent playing football, ESPN reports.
Adams was accused of killing physician Robert Lesslie; his wife, Barbara Lesslie; their two grandchildren Adah, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5, and James Lewis and Robert Shook, both 38, two HVAC technicians working on the Lesslies' Rock Hill, South Carolina home on April 7, before he was found by police with a fatal self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head the following day.
CTE is a degenerative brain disease linked to head trauma and concussions and NFL players have been at the forefront of its discussion amid growing data in recent years.
McKee, who leads Boston University's CTE Center, said 24 NFL players who died in their 20s and 30s have been diagnosed with the disease and most, like Adams, were classified as Stage 2 of the four stages.
McKee said Stage 2 CTE is associated with progressive cognitive and behavioral abnormalities, with associated symptoms including aggression, impulsivity, explosivity, depression, paranoia, anxiety, poor executive function and memory loss, though Adams' diagnosis was deemed "unusually severe" in both of his frontal lobes, differing from most other young players.
"After going through medical records from his football career, we do know that he was desperately seeking help from the NFL but was denied all claims due to his inability to remember things and to handle seemingly simple tasks, such as traveling hours away to see doctors and going through extensive evaluations,'' Adams' family said in a statement obtained by ESPN following the autopsy.