A look back on the talented player’s NFL start and the series of events that ultimately resulted in his death.
USA TODAY Sports
The death of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was ruled a suicide, the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office announced on Thursday.
It was also revealed investigators from the Massachusetts State Police found three handwritten notes in the cell located next to a bible.
Hernandez was found hanged by a bed sheet inside his cell at the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Mass., early Wednesday morning and was pronounced dead the hospital about an hour later.
The Massachusetts chief medical examiner, Dr. Henry N. Nields, concluded the “manner of death was suicide and the cause asphyxia by hanging,” according a news release.
“There were no signs of a struggle, and investigators determined that Mr. Hernandez was alone at the time of the hanging,” the district attorney’s office said in the statement.
The content of the notes found in Heranndez’ cell was not immediately released.
Hernandez, 27, was locked in his cell in the general population area of the maximum-security prison at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday and investigators determined nobody entered the cell until correction officers forced their way in at 3:03 a.m. on Thursday. Hernandez had “impeded” easy entry into the cell, according to the statement.
Defense attorney Jose Baez, who defended Hernandez at his latest trial, hinted in a statement released on Wednesday that Hernandez’s death was more than suicide.
“There were no conversations or correspondence from Aaron to his family or legal team that would have indicated anything like this was possible,” Baez said. “Those who love and care about him are heartbroken and determined to find the truth surrounding his untimely death.”
Baez struck a more measured tone with reporters on Thursday hours before the autopsy findings were released.
“As it relates to a suicide or not, we don’t make that call until (the investigation) is done,” Baez said. “”Why are you so quick to accept their word?
Hernandez was convicted in 2015 of the murder of former semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd two years prior. Hernandez, who was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, had appealed that conviction.
Hernandez was acquitted of two murder and three armed assault charges last week related to the deaths of Safiro Furtado and Daniel de Abreu outside a nightclub in 2012.
Baez announced earlier Thursday that Hernandez’s family had decided to donate his brain Boston University researchers studying the progressive brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The Worcester County District Attorney’s Office said now that the death investigation had concluded, the brain would be released to Boston University’s CTE Center.