BOSTON — More than 500 people packed a small Boston church on Saturday to pay their respects to a Dorchester man whose slaying sparked a homicide probe that led to the arrest of former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez, who grew up in Bristol, and two other men from Connecticut.
Family members, former classmates and teammates gathered to remember Odin Lloyd, 27, and tried not to focus on the circumstances surrounding his death during a two-hour memorial service.
Odin’s body was found in an industrial park less than a mile from Hernandez’s North Attleborough home on June 17. The case drew national attention after the former New England Patriots’ tight end was implicated in the death and later charged with first-degree murder.
Guests at the funeral, held at the Church of the Holy Spirit in the Mattapan section of Boston, focused on a different football player: a linebacker and defensive end with the Boston Bandits, the semi-professional football team for which Lloyd had played since 2006. Lloyd’s former teammates wore their jerseys to his service, chanting “Odin” in a huddle before the ceremony and afterwards, as his casket was carried out of the church. Saturday night, they played a game in his honor.
Lloyd had joined the team right out of high school after he decided to start working rather than to compete at the collegiate level.
“Odin was a simple man who considered himself a ‘one-man wolf pack’ and who was different from the norm,” said his sister, Olivia Thibou, in the eulogy that was printed in the program. When Lloyd was asked why he smiled so much, Thibou said he would reply: “As long as I have life, I’m going to smile.”
Boston Bandits coach Jon Holloway, a former teammate of Lloyd’s, said: “If things were tense at practice, he’d crack a joke and make everybody laugh. He was a great kid.”
During the sermon, guests said, Reverend Zenetta Armstrong urged those mourning to resist the urge for vengeance. Sonia Alleyne, a member of the congregation and a friend of Lloyd’s mother, said Armstrong’s message was to promote the values Lloyd lived by and, “not to focus on the people who did it.”
“Daddy, do we have to forgive everyone?” one girl asked her father as she left the church with her family after the service. “If someone killed my brother …”
“Yes,” her father said, and explained God teaches forgiveness.
Hernandez is being held without bail after prosecutors presented evidence they said indicates a calculated attack, referring to Lloyd’s death as an “orchestrated execution.” Two other suspects in the case have been arrested and charged. Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter said on Friday that he believes authorities have in custody all three men who were in a car with Lloyd when he left his house the night of his slaying.
Earlier on Friday, Bristol, Conn., resident Carlos Ortiz was charged with illegal possession of a firearm and Ernest Wallace, also of Bristol, was arrested in Florida after turning himself in to authorities there.
Ortiz is scheduled for a court hearing on Tuesday, according to Sutter.
Wallace, 41, was charged with accessory after the fact to a murder that Hernandez is charged with committing. Saturday, as guests were arriving at Lloyd’s funeral, Wallace was ordered held without bond during a hearing in Florida and was transferred to the Broward County Jail in Fort Lauderdale to await his transfer to Massachusetts. The criminal complaint alleges that he helped Hernandez avoid law enforcement after Lloyd was fatally shot.
Wallace’s Boston-based attorney, David Meier, said Wallace regularly visits his elderly parents and other relatives in Miramar. Wallace will be sent to Massachusetts to face charges.
Meanwhile, Hernandez is also being sued by Alexander Bradley, of East Hartford, who alleges that Hernandez shot him in the face after the two left a Florida strip club last February. The Boston Globe reported on Saturday that Bradley was charged with drunken driving in Massachusetts two weeks before the alleged shooting. According to the police report obtained by the Globe, when the trooper stopped the vehicle after a chase on I-95 that reached 105 miles per hour, the passenger in the front seat called out: “Trooper, I’m Aaron Hernandez, it’s OK.”
The Boston Globe has reported that prosecutors are investigating, as a possible motive, whether Lloyd knew anything about a 2012 double homicide in Boston, and Hernandez’s possible involvement in it.
Lloyd’s girlfriend is the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee, and prosecutors said that the two men had formed a separate friendship, but that Hernandez was angry with Lloyd because of something Lloyd had said to others at a night club the Friday before he was killed. Hernandez, prosecutors said, told Lloyd on the night of his death that he “just couldn’t trust anyone anymore.”
Derrick Alcindor, a player on the Boston Bandits who considered Lloyd one of his closest teammates, said he last saw his friend at a scrimmage the Saturday before Lloyd was killed. It was then, he said, that he learned about Lloyd’s friendship with Hernandez — right before Lloyd arrived at the scrimmage he apparently was not expected to attend.
“People were telling me … he was supposed to be hanging out with Hernandez that weekend,” Alcindor said. “Supposedly they had been close for like a year, but I had never heard of that.”
Information from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel is included in this story.
Distributed by MCT Information Services