Originally created 10/15/97

Steriods in focus in incident



GREENVILLE, S.C. -- High anabolic steroid levels were in the body of a Mauldin man who fatally shot his ex-girlfriend in a poolside murder-suicide this past summer, raising questions about whether they affected Keith Chambers' behavior, a newspaper said Tuesday.

Chambers, 20, fatally shot Megan Ridgeway, 18, and then himself June 29 at the crowded pool outside Mauldin where she worked as a lifeguard. Ms. Ridgeway recently had broken off their four-year relationship, friends said.

Toxicology tests found Nandrolone and synthetic testosterone in Chambers' system, The Greenville News reported.

The ratio of two key male hormones in Chambers' body was 26-to-1 at the time of his death, compared with normal ratios of between 1-to-1 and 6-to-1, Greenville County deputy coroner Kent Dill said.

"It is rare that you see somebody with a level of 10," Dill said.

Greenville County Sheriff Johnny Mack Brown said he had not seen the coroner's report. Since both people died, the investigation essentially stopped before it started, sheriff's Sgt. Lee Owens said.

All forms of anabolic steroids are illegal in South Carolina.

"I can't imagine something like this happening without something being done," said Megan's father, David Ridgeway. "I hope that they will make an effort to look into it. It's not a recreational drug. It's a time bomb."

Chambers' father, Bruce Chambers, said Monday he was not ready to talk about the incident.

Increased aggression leading to violence long has been considered a side effect of steroid abuse, though medical research has not provided conclusive evidence. Dill said he was not qualified to say if the steroids had affected Chambers that way.

The 1994 book "Steroids," by Dr. Scott Lukas of Harvard Medical School, includes a case study in which a 32-year-old prison guard shot and paralyzed a woman after she joked about charging him to use her telephone. In another, a 23-year-old weightlifter with a shy disposition took to biting aluminum cans and ripping pay phones out of walls after he started taking steroids.

However, a recent study conducted by the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science questioned whether talk of "roid rage" is overblown.

Ms. Ridgeway was sitting at her lifeguard stand when Chambers came to see her, sheriff's reports said. Chambers shot her in the back of the head in front of about 30 or 40 people, then turned the handgun on himself, reports said.

Kathy Ridgeway, Megan's mother, said she noticed about a year earlier that Chambers, once a slightly built soccer player, "was more intense and bulking up. He always had a real intense look on his face."

"You could tell it wasn't from working out," she said. "He got incredibly big and he did not look healthy."



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