Former NFL Star Aaron Hernandez Dead After Hanging Himself In Cell, Prison Officials Say

Attorney Calls For ‘Transparent And Thorough Investigation’ Into Hernandez's Death

MILFORD, Mass. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez, who was serving a life sentence for a murder conviction and days ago was acquitted of a double murder, killed himself in prison, Massachusetts prisons officials said.

Hernandez, 27, was found by guards in his cell at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley just after 3 a.m. Wednesday, Department of Correction spokesman Christopher Fallon said in a statement.

Hernandez was in a single cell in a general population housing unit in the maximum security state prison. He hanged himself using a bed sheet that he attached to a cell window, Fallon said.

Hernandez tried to block the cell door from the inside by jamming the door with various items, Fallon said.

Authorities tried to revive the former New England Patriots tight end, but he was pronounced dead at UMass Memorial – HealthAlliance Hospital in Leominster about an hour later.

Fallon said he’s not aware of any suicide note written by Hernandez and stressed that an investigation is ongoing. He said that officials had no concern that Hernandez was planning on taking his own life and if there was a concern about his well-being, Hernandez would have been transferred to a mental health unit.

Hernandez’s attorney Jose Baez issued a statement, saying, “the family and legal team is shocked and surprised at the news of Aaron’s death.”

“There were no conversations or correspondence from Aaron to his family or legal team that would have indicated anything like this was possible. Aaron was looking forward to an opportunity for a second chance to prove his innocence,” Baez said. “Those who love and care about him are heartbroken and determined to find the truth surrounding his untimely death. We request that authorities conduct a transparent and thorough investigation.”

He also said the Baez law firm will “participate in its own examination into this tragic event.”

Hernandez’s death comes the same day the Patriots are making their visit to the White House to mark their Super Bowl win. Team spokesman Stacey James said the Patriots were aware of the reports of Hernandez’s death but didn’t anticipate the club commenting Wednesday.

Hernandez was serving a life sentence for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player who was dating his fiancee’s sister.

He was moved to tears on Friday after he was acquitted of the 2012 fatal shootings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in Boston, whom prosecutors contended were gunned down after one of the men accidentally spilled a drink on Hernandez in a Boston nightclub.

The jury in that case found Hernandez not guilty of first-degree murder but convicted him of unlawful possession of a gun, and the judge sentenced him to an additional four to five years in prison — separate from his existing life sentence.

Just before his acquittal, Hernandez was seen blowing kisses to the little girl he fathered with fiancée Shayanna Jenkins. Cameras captured the tender exchange.

Massachusetts State Police remain on the scene investigating the death. His body has been turned over to the state medical examiner’s office, CBS Boston reported.

The WBZ-TV I-Team has learned Hernandez had the Bible verse John 3:16 written on his forehead, and that investigators are looking into the possibility that he smoked synthetic marijuana Tuesday night.

Hernandez grew up in Connecticut and played for the Patriots from 2010 to 2012. The team released him in June 2013, shortly after he was arrested in Lloyd’s killing.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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