Convicted murderer and former NFL star Aaron Hernandez was found hanged in his Massachusetts prison cell Wednesday morning, officials said, just days after his acquittal in a double murder case.
The 27-year-old former tight end for the New England Patriots hanged himself with a bedsheet attached to a window in his cell at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, the Massachusetts Department of Correction said. His body was discovered at 3:05 a.m.
“Lifesaving techniques were attempted on Mr. Hernandez, and he was transported to UMass Leominster, where he was pronounced dead at 4:07 a.m.,” the correction department’s statement reads.
Hernandez, who was serving a life sentence, was alone in his cell in a general population wing and had “attempted to block his door from the inside by jamming the door with various items,” the statement reads.
The Massachusetts State Police are investigating his death. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is conducting an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of death, the Worcester County district attorney’s office said.
Jose Baez, an attorney for Hernandez, has been retained by the athlete’s family to investigate the circumstances surrounding his death and will act as the executor of his estate, according to a statement from Baez.
“The family and legal team is shocked and surprised at the news of Aaron’s death,” Baez said in the statement. “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. Those who love and care about him are heartbroken and determined to find the truth surrounding his untimely death.”
His death marks one of the most dramatic falls from grace by an athlete in recent memory, and comes the same day that many of his former teammates visit the White House as Super Bowl champions.
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Jason Hanna and Eric Levenson