Amid conflicting reports on the existence of a warrant for the arrest of New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, one thing remains clear — he is still a key person of interest in the shooting death of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd.
Despite multiple reports to the contrary, a clerk in Attleboro, Mass., District Court told USA Today Sports on Friday afternoon that no arrest warrant had been issued for Hernandez or anyone else in the case. Furthermore, the court offices closed for the weekend at 4:30 p.m. Friday.
Earlier, several media outlets — citing unnamed police officers and other authorities — reported that an arrest warrant was issued on obstruction of justice charges based on the possible destruction of evidence in connection with the death of Lloyd.
Although the latest report indicates no such warrant has been drawn and that the court offices are closed, it is possible that such an action can still take place through the weekend.
Also, if an arrest is made based only on obstruction charges, it would not necessarily preclude filing of further charges in this case.
Hernandez has been tied to the shooting death of Lloyd since the victim’s body was found Monday afternoon in an industrial parkway only a quarter mile from Hernandez’s North Attleborough, Mass., home.
Hernandez was seen returning to his home at about 4:40 p.m. Friday in the same car with two lawyers, who left a few minutes later.
Seasoned crime reporters have theorized that local police and other authorities may have leaked incorrect information on the issuance of a warrant in an attempt to get Hernandez to be more cooperative.
Police searched Hernandez’s home on Tuesday and Wednesday, then returned Thursday with a warrant. Law enforcement sources told ABC News that the security system at Hernandez’s home was intentionally damaged and his cell phone was shattered. Authorities are concerned with those issues as well as the fact that Hernandez apparently hired people to clean his house Monday.
A surveillance video reportedly shows that Hernandez was with Lloyd in Hernandez’s home hours before Lloyd was murdered. Those two and a couple of other men were seen leaving a Boston area bar late Sunday night.
It has been reported that Lloyd died between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. Monday.
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. Lloyd was dating the sister of Hernandez’s girlfriend, Shayana Jenkins, who is the mother of his child.
Boston’s Fox 25 News reported that neighbors heard shots fired between 3 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. Monday. Video surveillance footage showed Hernandez and two other men wearing hooded sweatshirts entered Hernandez’s home shortly afterward. Hernandez was seen at Lloyd’s home an hour earlier.
On Thursday, Hernandez visited Gillette Stadium. Reports indicate he was probably there to rehab his injured shoulder. According to NFL.com, team security contacted owner Bob Kraft or other executives and instructions were given to ask Hernandez to leave to avoid a media frenzy at the stadium. He was apparently there about 35 minutes.
Also on Thursday, Hernandez drove to the offices of the legal firm of Ropes and Gray in the Boston area. Michael Fee, a lawyer with the firm, released this 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.”
The growing investigation into Hernandez prompted CtyoSport, which makes the Muscle Milk line of supplements, to fire Hernandez as an endorser Friday.
“In light of the investigation involving Aaron Hernandez, CytoSport is terminating its endorsement contract with Mr. Hernandez, effective immediately,” the company said in a statement.
SI.com uncovered two incidents in which Hernandez was associated with guns and police. SI.com obtained a Providence, R.I., police report that detailed an incident in which police found a gun disposed under a car after a New York 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 was not 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 were 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 re-filed Wednesday.
The Patriots selected Hernandez in the fourth round of the 2010 draft after he won the John Mackey Award as the top tight end in the nation. He was considered to have first-round talent, but due to failing drug tests and a questionable off-season lifestyle, he slipped down many draft boards and, reportedly, was taken off some.
After two good seasons that confirmed his physical ability, Hernandez signed a five-year, $40 million extension with the Patriots in August 2012.
Hernandez went to Bristol, Conn., Central High school and was rated the best tight end prospect in the nation by Scout.com. His father, Dennis, and older brother D.J. attended the University of Connecticut and it was at first believed he would follow their footsteps.
But after his father died unexpectedly, Aaron Hernandez admitted he was in shock and decided he wanted to get far away from Connecticut.
His father died at age 49 in January 2006 after complications from routine hernia surgery. Aaron, then 16, said his life was shattered.
“Everyone was close to my father, but I was the closest” he said in a 2009 interview with USA Today. “I was with him more than my friends. When that happened, who do I talk to, who do I hang with? It was tough.”
However, while at Florida, Hernandez reportedly stayed close to his Connecticut friends and did not often socialize with teammates. NFL scouts cited Hernandez’s social life, along with his failed drug test for marijuana, as a reason he was rated lower on most draft boards than his physical ability warranted.