Former Pro Wrestler Fatally Shot

Ft. Worth Star-Telegram – October 9, 2001
By Tanya Eiserer

When William Brent Parnell was arrested in the shooting death of professional wrestler “Gentleman” Chris Adams, he repeatedly told police he was Adams’ best friend.

Waxahachie police said Parnell was distraught when he was arrested Sunday on suspicion of murder. Parnell, 49, remained in the Ellis County Jail on Monday with bail set at $300,000.

Adams, 46, died Sunday morning at the Waxahachie home of Parnell’s mother where Parnell lived, police said.

The two men had been drinking and “roughhousing” when the shooting occurred, police said. Parnell told police he shot Adams in self-defense.

“I don’t know what happened,” said Tom Lance, a friend of both men and a wrestling promoter. “I know Brent was a big teddy bear. I don’t believe he would hurt anybody.”

About 1 a.m. Sunday, Parnell called 911 to report he had shot Adams, Sgt. Nathan Bickerstaff said.

When police arrived, they saw Parnell with a gun in his hand standing in the front bedroom window, Bickerstaff said. Parnell told the 911 dispatcher he was going to put the gun down and come to the front door unarmed, which he did, police said.

“He surrendered to the officers at the scene,” Bickerstaff said.

Bickerstaff said it appears Adams and Parnell had been drinking.

“They got to roughhousing with each other,” Bickerstaff said. “Evidently … it got out of hand. That’s when Parnell is stating that he was in fear of his life and shot Adams in the chest.”

Police recovered a .38-caliber handgun.

Adams died at the scene, police said.

Parnell recently served as best man in Adams’ wedding, said Gary Hart, Adams’ former manager.

Parnell, nicknamed “Booray,” met Adams about 11 years ago and had worked with him promoting wrestling matches. The two were once roommates.

“He’s a wonderful person to be around,” Parnell said of Adams in a previous interview with the Star-Telegram. “I’d trust him with my life.”

Adams’ girlfriend at the time, Linda Kaphengst, 30, died in Parnell’s far north Dallas appartment in April 2000 from an overdose of alcohol and gamma hydroxybutyrate, or GHB, an illegal designer drug.

Adams was indicted on manslaughter charges in her death in June.

“It was the worst thing that’s ever happened in my life,” Adams told the Star-Telegram in an August interview.

Trial was scheduled to begin April 8.

Parnell told the Star-Telegram in an earlier interview that he had nightmares after Kaphengst’s death. “It really devastated me,” he said.

Adams lived in Rowlett with his new wife, Karen, and his 7-year-old daughter.

Hart said Adams recently told him he was compiling a collection of video clips of his wrestling matches. “He wanted to sell them to raise money for his defense,” Hart said.

Lance, the friend and wrestling promoter, said Adams talked to him Friday about picking up the weights he had left at Lance’s house. “He wanted them back to start getting in shape,” Lance said.

He said Adams had talked about wrestling with a new Florida-based company. Parnell mentioned Friday that he wanted to move to Shreveport, La., where he owned rental property, Lance said.

Adams, a British-born pro wrestler, gained fame in the 1980s while wrestling with World Class Championship Wrestling, operated by local wrestling icon Fritz Von Erich, whose sons also gained fame in the sport. Adams’ death is the latest tragedy to befall wrestlers who became famous during the Von Erich sons’ era.

Adams had acknowledged, and several of his friends agreed, that alcohol use was his Achilles’ heel, or his weakness. Lance said that in the past when Adams drank alcohol, he sometimes became violent. Adams had twice been convicted of drunken driving and a federal court jury convicted him of misdemeanor assault after he was accused of head-butting an American Airlines co-pilot in 1986 during a Dallas-bound flight from the Caribbean.

“He was one of the greatest people, a true dear friend, but something about when he starts to drink … bad things happen,” Hart said. “If it wasn’t for alcohol, none of this would have happened.”

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