Even as the amount of ominous news grows, as does the mass of media watching his house and every move, New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was not charged or arrested as of late Thursday afternoon in connection with the apparent homicide of Odin Lloyd.
Lloyd, a semi-pro football player, reportedly left a club with two men, including Hernandez, late Sunday night or early Monday morning, but only two men returned to Hernandez’s home in North Attleborough, Mass.
Reports indicate a jogger found Lloyd’s dead body at 5:30 p.m. Monday in an industrial park one mile from the Patriots player’s home and that a vehicle rented in Hernandez’s name was nearby.
Hernandez has been under scrutiny ever since.
Meantime, Michael Fee, a lawyer with Ropes and Gray in the Boston area, released a statement regarding Hernandez and the investigation: “Out of respect for that process, neither we nor Aaron will have any comment about the substance of that investigation until it has come to a conclusion.”
Police visited his home on Tuesday and Wednesday, then returned with a warrant Thursday and reportedly had serious questions regarding why the home security system and cellphone they took from Hernandez were destroyed and why a team of house cleaners was hired Monday to clean the football player’s mansion.
According to reports by SI.com, Lloyd died between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. Monday.
Boston’s Fox 25 News, citing an anonymous source, reported Wednesday night that forensic evidence linked a vehicle driven by Hernandez to the crime scene. The TV station also reported that Hernandez was with Lloyd at a Boston bar on the night of Lloyd’s death.
Hernandez reportedly hasn’t been cooperating with investigators in the case and has hired a lawyer. He was seen leaving the home with a woman earlier Wednesday in a white Audi SUV. He didn’t stop to offer a comment to reporters. The Patriots released a statement offering no comment.
Police searched Hernandez’s home for several hours on Tuesday night and left with a large box. They also returned on Wednesday. Two men leaving the home Tuesday were stopped in the driveway and questioned by police. Officers also searched the industrial park area where the body was found for evidence.
According to NFL.com, Hernandez visited Gillette Stadium on Thursday, although coaches and players were on vacation and owner Robert Kraft and other team executives were also not there. Reportedly, the only players there were a few rookies.
Lloyd, 27, was a linebacker for the semi-pro Boston Bandits. There were indications that he was shot and the body dumped in the industrial park. Lloyd had practiced with the team on Saturday.
There was an additional report from WBZ-TV that Lloyd was dating the sister of Shayanna Jenkins, Hernandez’s girlfriend and mother of his child, at the time of Lloyd’s death.
“[Lloyd] was in fine spirits, he played well, he was mentoring another player who is aspiring to get into college,” Bandits coach Olivier Bustin told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 in Boston. “He was thanked for his assistance and giving pointers during the scrimmage. He had a very good scrimmage, he was a very well-liked and personable player. Obviously, this is devastating news for us as an organization.”
SI.com uncovered two incidents in which Hernandez was associated with guns and police. SI.com obtained a Providence police report that detailed an incident in which police found a gun disposed under a car after a Jets fan confronted Hernandez at 2:26 a.m. on May 18, though there was no evidence that the gun belonged to Hernandez.
In 2007, Hernandez was interviewed by Gainesville, Fla., police about a shooting that occurred after Florida’s 20-17 loss to Auburn. Hernandez wasn’t considered a suspect. His mother confirmed to the Orlando Sentinel that her son and a friend from Connecticut were in a nightclub near where the shooting took place.
On Tuesday, the story of a lawsuit in Florida emerged. in which Alexander S. Bradley alleged that Hernandez pointed a gun at him and it discharged while they riding in a vehicle, striking Bradley in the face and resulting in the loss of his right eye and other facial injuries that required surgery. According to the suit, the two men had argued outside a strip club.
Bradley is seeking $100,000 in damages. The suit was filed earlier this month and withdrawn four days later, but USA Today reported that there was a paperwork error and it would be refiled Wednesday.
“We don’t know whether it was accidental or deliberate,” Bradley’s attorney, David Jaroslawicz, told USA Today when asked about the gun allegedly discharging. “If we get to take Mr. Hernandez’s testimony, perhaps he will tell us he accidentally pulled the trigger or maybe he did it on purpose.”