MASSACHUSETTS– Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots star who was convicted of murder, was found hanged Wednesday morning in the Massachusetts prison where he was serving a life sentence, officials said.
The death of Hernandez, 27, comes just days after he was acquitted in a separate murder case.
Hernandez “was discovered hanged in his cell by corrections officers at the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley Massachusetts at approximately 3:05 a.m.,” the Massachusetts Department of Correction said.
“Lifesaving techniques were attempted on Mr. Hernandez and he was transported to UMASS Leominster, where he was pronounced dead at 4:07 a.m. by a physician at the hospital.
“Mr. Hernandez was in a single cell in a general population housing. Mr. Hernandez hanged himself utilizing a bed sheet that he attached to his cell window. Mr. Hernandez also attempted to block his door from the inside by jamming the door with various items.
Here is the full statement issued by the Massachusetts Department of Corrections:
Hernandez was serving a life sentence after being convicted of first-degree murder for the June 2013 killing of Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro football player who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancée.
And until last week, he had been facing murder charges in the July 2012 deaths of Safiro Furtado and Daniel de Abreu, two men killed in a drive-by shooting outside a Boston nightclub.
But Hernandez was found not guilty Friday of two counts of murder in that case, though he was convicted of illegal possession of a firearm.
Hernandez was visibly emotional when Friday’s verdicts were read, embracing his attorneys with tears in his eyes. One of his attorneys said Hernandez was relieved about the verdict.
Hernandez’s attorneys had appealed for a new trial in the Lloyd case.
Hernandez had a promising football career before his June 2013 arrest in Lloyd’s death. The Patriots’ fourth-round pick in 2010 had signed a five-year contract extension in 2012 worth up to $40 million.
A jogger found Lloyd’s gunshot-riddled body in a Massachusetts industrial park on June 17, 2013. Hernandez was charged with murder nine days later, and the Patriots released him.
Hernandez’s death comes on the day his former team is set to visit the White House to celebrate its February Super Bowl victory.
Football career dogged by allegations
Hernandez’s arrest cut short what had been a promising football career burgeoning on stardom, beginning in his roots in Bristol, Connecticut.
From there, he caught passes from Tim Tebow at the University of Florida and was a key contributor to that team’s 2008 national championship. Hernandez then became the first Gator to win the John Mackey Award, given annually to the NCAA’s best tight end.
But Hernandez was dogged by allegations of failed drug tests and was picked by the Patriots in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
Still, with future Hall of Famer Tom Brady throwing to him, Hernandez shined for New England. The Patriots rewarded him in 2012 with a five-year contract extension worth up to $40 million.
In all, Hernandez spent more time in prison than on the field with the Patriots.
Stacey James, a spokesman for the Patriots, said the team was aware of the news but did not anticipate any comment.
Mike Pouncey, a teammate at Florida, posted a photo of Hernandez on Instagram and said they had just talked to each other the day before.
“To my friend my brother! Through thick and thin right or wrong we never left each other’s side,” Pouncey wrote. “Today my heart hurts as I got the worse news I could have imagined. It was just a day ago we shared our last convo. I will forever miss you and love you bro.”
Hernandez is survived by his fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez, and their 4-year-old daughter.
As Hernandez waited last week during jury deliberations, he waved and blew kisses to his daughter in the courtroom.
Police are investigating Hernandez’s death.