Steroids dealer's, bodybuilder's fates tragically sealed
11:50 PM CDT on Thursday, June 5, 2008
By JASON TRAHAN / The Dallas Morning News
Amanda Jo Earhart-Savell stuck with convicted steroids trafficker David Jacobs when no one else would. It may have gotten her killed.
Convicted steroids dealer found dead in Plano home (Video/editing: Richard Michael Pruitt/DMN)
Convicted steroids dealer found dead in Plano home
Police found the bodies of Ms. Earhart-Savell, 30, a professional fitness competitor, and Mr. Jacobs, 35, a former amateur bodybuilder, shot to death inside his home on Honey Creek Lane in Plano on Thursday morning.
Police received a missing-person call shortly after midnight Wednesday from Ms. Earhart-Savell's family, said Plano police spokesman Rick McDonald. The family said that they had not heard from her and that she might be at Mr. Jacobs' house.
Autopsies by the Dallas County medical examiner's office are pending.
Investigators would not say if it was a murder-suicide, but people who knew the pair say Mr. Jacobs was jealous and possessive of Ms. Earhart-Savell, a fitness magazine cover girl described by friends as bubbly, attractive and outgoing. Mr. Jacobs had previously told The Dallas Morning News that their almost yearlong relationship was marked by at least two breakups and reconciliations, centered on allegations of cheating on both sides.
"He was by all accounts a controlling person," said John Romano, senior editor for Muscular Development magazine who knew Mr. Jacobs. "Close friends told her to stay away from him."
Video: David Jacobs tells his story in a May 2008 interview at his Plano home.
Link: Watch Amanda Jo Earhart-Savell training with David Jacobs for the 2007 Figure Olympia contest
05/22/08: Plano steroids supplier meets with NFL security officials
05/02/08: Plano steroids supplier wants to help clean up NFL
04/25/08: Plano resident's steroid distribution ring was one of the largest in U.S.
11/14/07: Plano trainer says he supplied Cowboys players with steroids
When Mr. Jacobs' role as ringleader of one of the largest steroids networks in the U.S. made headlines in November, she publicly stood by him. And paid a price, both said in blog entries.
In February, she was not invited to the Arnold Classic, one of the world's most prestigious events of its kind. Bodybuilding enthusiasts decried the move online, saying it was because of her connection to Mr. Jacobs.
"She took second in the Arnold Classic last year and wasn't invited back this year. That's an incredible hypocrisy," said Mr. Romano, who believes steroids use is rampant in the bodybuilding community. "The guy who does the steroids can compete, but the person who dates the steroids dealer can't."
Mr. Jacobs drew criticism among online bloggers for recently sitting down with NFL investigators and giving them names of players to whom he said he sold performance-enhancing drugs, including ex-Cowboys lineman Matt Lehr. Mr. Jacobs also supplied the league with canceled checks, e-mails, text messages and other evidence, saying he wanted to "clean up" the sport.
Mr. Lehr's attorney has called Mr. Jacobs' information unreliable and said his client would not be indicted. Federal investigators will only say that their investigation continues.
Mr. Jacobs also said he sold steroids and growth hormone to other NFL players, but never named them publicly.
On the Web site for his now-defunct nutrition store in Plano, Mr. Jacobs described himself as a trainer who "offers guidance to many top athletes across the United States," including "Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons football players."
After his arrest, Mr. Jacobs freely told investigators about his Chinese connections for raw steroid powder, which he imported and used to cook steroids. One of his top middlemen sold about $30,000 a month of the drugs.
Mr. Jacobs maintained until his death that federal authorities already had names of middlemen and NFL players as a result of their two-year investigation into his network. He said he confirmed names, but he did not willingly give up any names.
One of the areas of interest to the NFL was Mr. Jacobs' allegation that players use a hair-loss-prevention drug that can also act as a masking agent for steroid use.
He said that in 2006, Mr. Lehr used such a medication, and Mr. Jacobs said federal investigators confiscated a bottle of that medicine given to Mr. Jacobs by Mr. Lehr.
The label bore an NFL team logo, along with Mr. Lehr's name, Mr. Jacobs said.
The use of finasteride, sold under the trade names Propecia and Proscar, has been reviewed by the National Football League, but has not been banned. It is prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which oversees international competition such as the Olympics.
It's unclear what the league will do with Mr. Jacobs' revelations.
"We are reviewing the information to determine if there is documented evidence establishing any violations of our program and will follow up on any other information that is provided," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Thursday. "It is premature to comment on any specific player at this time."
He said anyone found to have violated league policies would be disciplined. He also said Mr. Jacobs was never paid for his assistance.
The Dallas Morning News spoke to Mr. Jacobs frequently and exchanged e-mails with him as recently as last weekend. He was interested in getting on with his life after accepting a plea deal for three years of probation on charges related to his steroids trafficking.
Mr. Jacobs said he wanted to rebuild his nutritional supplement business, but was having trouble getting his old client base to work with him. He also was having financial problems, but the former Marine seemed to be in good spirits.
On May 21, he said he was moving forward with plans to speak to school students about the risks of steroids use. "They are being scheduled now, everyone is really supportive!" he wrote in an e-mail.
A few weeks ago, attempting to turn things around after his legal troubles ended, Mr. Jacobs was thrilled at the positive response to an online audio interview he gave. "God I really do need to write a book ..."
Reached at his home near Atlanta, Mr. Jacobs' father, David Arthur Jacobs, said he feared something bad would happen to his son in the wake of his steroids case.
"I've been waiting on this call," he said. "Any time you are involved with what he was involved in, there's a fear factor that someone will be so upset that they will do bodily harm."
He added that police did not tell him what they think happened.
Mr. Jacobs' father said he didn't talk to his son about his relationships, but in text messages he traded with him this week, he said nothing sounded amiss.
"He didn't sound suicidal," his father said. "He's a good kid, a smart kid, but he made some bad choices."
Art Atwood, a nationally noted bodybuilder and former close friend of Mr. Jacobs, is himself awaiting sentencing on charges related to steroids trafficking. He said Thursday that such stresses and pressures are "a recipe for disaster."
He described Mr. Jacobs as a passionate man. "Whatever he did it was 100 percent. Full blaze on."
He said that after he and Mr. Jacobs were busted for making and selling steroids a year ago, he avoided Mr. Jacobs, as did most people in the close-knit bodybuilding community. He said he regrets that.
"I forgave him," Mr. Atwood said. "I didn't think anything bad about David. But everyone just kind of disowned him. The first thing you think is what you could have done to prevent this. If I was a better person, I would have answered his phone calls."
Mr. Atwood said he believes that Mr. Jacobs' being publicly branded a criminal, losing his supplement business, having all his money go toward legal bills and his rocky relationship with Ms. Earhart-Savell was just too much pressure.
"If it is a murder-suicide, there was a whole bunch of things going on: anger, jealousy. It's a cocktail, an intensity, an obsession. It's a whole bunch of emotions packed into one act. If you put all the wrong emotions together, that's how something like this happens."
He said the couple met shortly after Mr. Jacobs was arrested in spring 2007. Mr. Atwood ran across Mr. Jacobs at a bodybuilding show and saw his former friend and business partner beaming about his nascent relationship.
"They had only been going out four weeks, and he had her name tattooed on his left wrist," Mr. Atwood said. "It's in Chinese. He said that 'if we ever break up, I'll just say it means honor, respect,' something like that. When I saw that, I thought, 'Whoa, she's in for a ride.'
"He was talking about having children with her. I didn't think Amanda would give up her career to date him and start a family, just like that. It didn't seem to add up right."
Mr. Jacobs and Ms. Earhart-Savell frequently blogged on bodybuilding sites and peppered their MySpace pages with notes and quotes. His MySpace profile features some lyrics from rapper 50 Cent's "Many Men (Wish Death)":
"Sunny days wouldn't be special, if it wasn't for rain. Joy wouldn't feel good if it wasn't for pain. Death has to be easy 'cause life is hard. It will leave you physically mentally and emotionally scarred."
Staff writers Richard Abshire and Todd Archer contributed to this report.
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