The family of former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, who shot and killed his girlfriend before taking his own life, is having his body exhumed, the Kansas City Star reported.
Family attorney Dirk Vandever told the newspaper Friday that the family hopes having Belcher's brain examined will reveal answers as to why he shot Kasandra Perkins nine times before turning the gun on himself.
It is believed to be the first exhumation of a former NFL player.
Belcher killed Perkins the morning of Dec. 1, 2012, then drove to the team's facility and killed himself.
"If his brain had been examined (when he died), we'd have a better understanding of why he did what he did," said Dr. Bennet Omalu, who is credited with discovering the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). "We would have a better understanding about concussions and playing football, and we would advance the understanding of the science of all of this."
In four NFL seasons, Belcher did not have any reported concussions. However, Kash Kiefer, a friend and former college teammate of Belcher's at Maine, told Bleacher Report in November that "Jovan suffered multiple concussions. But in football, you don't complain. You play. That was Jovan. He played."
Belcher became unpredictable and irritable in the last few months of his life and began drinking more alcohol, sources told the Star. An autopsy revealed that his blood-alcohol level the day of the murder-suicide was more than two times the legal limit in Missouri.
His behavior was reportedly similar to that of people who suffer from CTE, which is a degenerative disease caused by repeated head injuries.
It is not known if the exhumation will prove that Belcher had CTE. Omalu has found evidence of Alzheimer's in bodies that were buried longer than a year, but Belcher shot himself in the head. Therefore, how well the body and brain were preserved is very important.
Julian Bailes, founder of the Brain Injury Research Institute, said CTE does not directly explain the murder-suicide.
Perkins' mother told the Star she was not aware that Belcher's body was being exhumed.
"I'm doubtful it will solve anything," she said.