Kelly Dawkins' Death Called Apparent Suicide

Posted: November 03, 1987

The estranged wife of ex-76ers center Darryl Dawkins apparently killed herself over the weekend with painkillers, authorities in Trenton said yesterday.

Kelly Barnes Dawkins, 28, who had been living with her parents in Trenton while her husband trained with the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City, was found dead in bed Sunday morning. On a dresser in the bedroom, police found a prescription bottle with 22 painkiller pills missing since the prescription had been filled Friday, according to police sources.

"We're considering it a possible suicide based on the fact that some prescription medication is missing from the vicinity of the body," said Mercer County Prosecutor Paul T. Koenig Jr.

A note the woman wrote was found in the bedroom, Koenig said, but neither he nor police would elaborate.

Dr. Rafaat Ahmad, county medical examiner, conducted an autopsy yesterday, but the results were inconclusive. Toxicology tests, which will determine whether she died of a drug overdose, will take at least a week.

Kelly Dawkins' parents, in statements to police, insisted she was neither unusually troubled nor depressed about her separation from her husband. They had gone to a football game with her Saturday night, police said, and Dawkins

went to bed around midnight, after arranging to give her younger brother, Willie Barnes Jr., a ride Sunday morning.

At about 11:45 a.m. Sunday, the brother tried to rouse his sister. He then called to his mother, who summoned an ambulance. Dawkins was pronounced dead about 45 minutes later at Mercer Medical Center.

The painkiller prescription, for 30 Propacet tablets, was filled Friday for another family member, Koenig said. Sources said she is Linda Barnes, whose exact relationship with Kelly Dawkins was unknown. The bottle was found with eight tablets in it, according to the sources.

Propacet, a narcotic similar to some versions of Darvon, is prescribed for mild to moderate pain. Overdoses of the drug "are a major cause of drug- related deaths," according to the Physicians' Desk Reference, a manual used by doctors to prescribe medicine, and one of every five people who takes a fatal overdose dies within an hour.

A Trenton native, Kelly Dawkins eloped with the injury-plagued, 6-foot-11, 270-pound Darryl Dawkins in September 1986 after a one-year courtship. Her father, William Barnes Sr., said she had been living with her family "for the past several weeks."

The family declined to comment yesterday.

Dawkins, 30, was traded by the Sixers to the New Jersey Nets in 1982, and was traded by the Nets to the Utah Jazz on Oct. 8. He skipped his practice with the Jazz yesterday and flew to New Jersey, according to the team's spokesman. It was unclear when he would return.

"His only comments to me were that they had decided that divorce was the appropriate process," said Jazz spokesman Bill Kreifeldt. "He said that sometimes God works in mysterious ways."

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