On Friday, the York County Sheriff’s Office released 31 pages of search warrants that reveal more details in the Rock Hill, South Carolina murders that shook the nation earlier this month.
The mass shooting on April 7 left six victims dead — Dr. Robert Lesslie, his wife Barbara Lesslie, their two grandchildren 9-year-old Adah Lesslie and five-year-old Noah Lesslie, and two workers at the Lesslie home Robert Shook and James Lewis.
That evening, York County deputies identified ex-NFL player Phillip Adams as the killer before he shot himself.
On Friday, sheriff’s office deputies released warrants in the case that reveal more details in the investigation — including information about what led them to identify Adams as the killer.
Click below to see the full search warrants in the investigation…20210423-Marshal-Road-Investigation-Search-Warrants-To-Be-Released
According to the warrants, police discovered Adams’ cell phone at the murder scene. The phone was found on the front steps of the Lesslies’ home.
“The phone had been dropped between the two locations of where the victims were located,” the warrants said. Lewis and Shook were shot in front of the home and the Lesslies were found dead from gunshot wounds in a bedroom inside the home.
Next to Adams’ phone, detectives found a blue can of Skoal tobacco dip, which police also said belonged to Adams.
While detectives were processing the scene, Rock Hill Police officers saw a man who looked like Adams driving away from the crime scene on a four-wheeler. Later, police identified Adams through body cam footage. A neighbor who told police he heard 20 gunshots at Lesslies’ home also told police he saw a man that fit Adams’ description running away from the home with an assault rifle.
When police searched Adams’ home, located down the street about a mile from the Lesslies’ home, detectives took several items of interest including multiple machine-gun-style weapons and ammunition. One of those guns, a 9mm MP5 style firearm, matched shell casings at the scene, according to police.
Detectives also seized medicine bottles and several notebooks containing “cryptic writing with different designs and emblems” from Phillip Adams’ room.
“Detectives also learned that Phillip Adams had been acting differently and possibly following a new religion or ideology,” the affidavit said.
However, it was unclear if Adams’ new religion/ ideology was a potential motive.
The warrants didn’t reveal a clear motive in the murders.
On April 13, deputies obtained a search warrant for any medical records on Phillip Adams and his parents at Riverview Family Medicine, where Dr. Lesslie worked.
Police have not confirmed whether or not Dr. Lesslie ever treated Adams or his family.
Adams died from a gunshot wound to the head around 9 p.m. — nearly four hours after the murders, according to an incident report released by the York County Sheriff’s Office (click below for the incident report).PhillipAdamsPolicereport
While the documents provide some answers in the case, so many questions remain:
- Why did Adams kill a doctor, his wife, two children and two fathers (the men working at the home)?
- Why did he pick that house?
- If Adams was showing signs of concerning mental illness, how did Adams get his guns and ammunition?
- If Adams was dead at 9 p.m., why weren’t police clear about that on April 7? They didn’t tell the public that information until the next day.
- How was Adams able to shoot himself inside his bedroom while police swarmed the area in a manhunt?
- Why would a killer leave a phone and tobacco dip at the scene of the crime? Did he want to get caught?
Aside from the fact that Adams lived down the street from the Lesslies, police have not confirmed any other connections between the two families.
Alonzo Adams, Phillip Adams’ father, has indicated that concussions after so many years playing football could have contributed to his son’s downfall.
“I think the football messed him up,” he told News 19 of his son.
Adams’ brain will be scanned for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) during an autopsy, the Associated Press reported. Authorities told the AP it could be months before they get results from those brain scans.
Adams played football at South Carolina State University from 2006 to 2009 before he was drafted by the 49ers in 2010. He also played for the New York Jets, the Seattle Seahawks, and the New England Patriots. His NFL career ended in 2015.
Dr. Lesslie, 70, was a former emergency room physician and author.
Dr. Lesslie was the founder and medical director of Riverview Hospice and Palliative Care. He had been practicing medicine since 1981 and previously worked in the ER at Springs Memorial in Lancaster.
Dr. Lesslie had four children and eight grandchildren. He published several books, wrote columns for local magazines and newspapers, and was an active member of his church.
The Lesslie family has asked for privacy and shown tremendous grace in their grief. The family sent the sheriff a heart-wrenching statement that was read to media on Thursday.
“We know there are no answers that will satisfy the question ‘why’,” the Lesslie family said. “Our hope is found in the promise of Jesus Christ and we are enveloped by peace that surpasses all understanding. To that end, our hearts are bent toward forgiveness and peace, toward love and connectedness, toward celebration and unity.”
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