Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots tight end convicted of murdering Odin Lloyd, was found dead in his jail cell overnight, just days after he was acquitted of a double homicide. The Massachusetts Department of Corrections confirmed that the 27-year-old committed suicide, using a bed sheet attached to his window. On April 20, the Massachusetts Medical Examiner’s Office concluded that the cause of death was suicide by asphyxia by hanging.
“An investigation into the death by the State Police Detectives assigned to the District Attorney’s Office and Department of Correction investigators found cardboard jammed into the door tracks of his single-inmate cell to impede entry into the cell,” Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. said in a statement. “There were no signs of a struggle, and investigators determined that Mr. Hernandez was alone at the time of the hanging.”
Early confirmed that police found three handwritten suicide notes and a Bible in his cell.
Hernandez’s lawyer, Jose Baez, told TMZ that he’s not buying that and thinks his client might have been murdered.
In a statement to WHDH, the DOC said that corrections officers found Hernandez dead in his cell at the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts at 3:05 a.m. They did try to save his life and he was rushed to UMASS Leominster. He was pronounced dead at 4:07 a.m.
According to the statement, he hanged himself using a single bed sheet attached to his window. Hernandez tried to block his cell door using “various items.” The DOC aid that his family was already notified and the Massachusetts State Police are still investigating.
Baez told TMZ that he does not think Hernandez killed himself and thinks his client was murdered. He has launched an investigation on behalf of Hernandez’s family, who do not believe Hernandez was in the “frame of mind” to commit suicide.
Baez also issued a statement to WBZ, saying, “There were no conversations or correspondence from Aaron to his family or legal team that would have indicated anything like this was possible.” He confirmed that his law firm will launch its own investigation and “update the media and public on its findings when they become available.”
Brian Murphy, Hernandez’s agent, also insisted that Hernandez would never take his own life.
There are no reports of previous suicide attempts, reports WHDH.
“This is a shocking and sad end to a very tragic series of events that has negatively impacted a number of families,” the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office told WHDH.
Hernandez, who was born in Bristol, Connecticut and played college football at Florida, was convicted in the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro football player. He received a life sentence for that murder. In 2014, he was also indicted for the 2012 double homicide of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, but he was acquitted in that case just days before his suicide.
The Boston Globe reports reports that the trial lasted a month, and he was found not guilty to every charge except one, a gun-related crime. Right after he was acquitted though, he went back to prison to continue serving his life sentence for the murder of Lloyd.
Hernandez was drafted by the Patriots in 2010 and scored a touchdown in the team’s Super Bowl XLVI loss to the Giants. In August 2012, the Globe reported that Hernandez was signed to a contract extension worth $40 million. The team cut him in 2013, right after he was charged with Lloyd’s murder.
In 2013, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft told reporters that he felt “duped” by Hernandez. “You can be sure we’ll be looking at our procedures and auditing how we do things,” Kraft told ESPN at the time.
Hernandez is survived by his longtime fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez, and his daughter, Avielle Janelle Hernandez.
The Patriots, who are visiting the White House today to celebrate their Super Bowl LI victory, told the Associated Press that they are aware of the reports of Hernandez’s death. “We are aware of the reports but I don’t anticipate that we will be commenting today,” Patriots spokesman Stacey James said.
Read more about Aaron Hernandez’s death in Spanish at AhoraMismo.com: