NFL

Report: Hernandez tied to victim

Authorities search in and around the house of Aaron Hernandez, and directly link him to the Odin Lloyd homicide.
Authorities search in and around the house of Aaron Hernandez, and directly link him to the...
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A.J. Perez

A.J. Perez previously worked at USA Today, AOL and CBSSports.com, covering beats ranging from performance-enhancing drugs to the NHL. He has also been a finalist for an Associated Press Sports Editors award for investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter.

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BOSTON

THE NEWS

Tiger Woods

FALLS FROM GRACE

Some sports icons were on top of the world until they lost respect with these epic falls from grace.

New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was driving a car with three other men as passengers — including a 27-year-old man later deemed to be a homicide victim — hours before the victim’s body was discovered near Hernandez’s North Attleborough, Mass., home, FOX 25 in Boston reported Wednesday night.

FOX 25 reported Thursday morning, crediting a source, that forensic evidence places a vehicle driven by Hernandez at one of the crime scenes in this case.

Although Hernandez has not been named as a suspect, this is the first major indication that he is directly linked to the investigation into the death of the man, identified Wednesday as Odin Lloyd of Dorchester.

WBZ-TV in Boston is quoting a “law enforcement source” as saying that state police have not ruled out Hernandez as a suspect, while Sports Illustrated, citing an unidentified source, earlier reported that Hernandez was not believed to be a suspect. The magazine said police had spoken with Hernandez.

Lloyd’s body was found near Hernandez’s home on Monday.

A law-enforcement official told FOX 25 that Hernandez left a Boston bar in a car with Lloyd and two other men in the hours that preceded the body’s discovery. The source told FOX 25 that Lloyd sent a text that referenced Hernandez.

Three men returned to Hernandez’s home, but Lloyd was not one of them, the source told FOX 25. It’s unclear what transpired.

Police searched Hernandez’s home for a second day Wednesday. Hernandez was questioned by police on Monday night, SI.com reported.

Members of the Massachusetts State Police walk toward the front door of the home of Patriot's tight end Aaron Hernandez in North Attleborough, Mass., on Wednesday.

Erika Niedowski

This turn follows news of a lawsuit first reported by TMZ earlier Wednesday. In the suit filed in federal court in Florida, Alexander Bradley alleged that Hernandez shot him in the face and caused numerous injuries and facial reconstruction surgery.

The lawsuit was originally filed June 13, but four days later, the case was dismissed. TMZ has updated its report to say the suit was to be refiled Wednesday — but the documents were not immediately available on the federal docket system.

Messages left with Bradley’s lawyers, and with the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Department — in whose jurisdiction the alleged shooting took place — were not returned Wednesday night.

Police are calling Lloyd, who lived in Dorchester, an "associate" of Hernandez's, according to multiple reports. FOX 25 is reporting that Lloyd's uncle, Ed, said Lloyd was a member of the Boston Bandits, a semi-professional football team.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

• Bristol District Attorney Samuel Sutter's office said investigators were asking for the public's help to find a silver mirror cover believed to have broken off a car between Boston and North Attleborough. According to the Attleborough Sun Chronicle, Massachusetts state police are looking for another rental car in connection with the homicide investigation, a silver 2013 Chrysler 300.

• FOX 25 reported that on Tuesday police stopped two men who attempted to leave the Hernandez's property. According to FOX 25, both men were seen later entering the local police station in North Attleboro and were later released. One of the men taken in told a FOX 25 reporter that police had confiscated his phone, and also said he knew nothing about the reported victim.

• Later Wednesday, at least seven state troopers searched both sides of a road just off the street where Hernandez lives. The officers used thin poles to pull back plants and search through undergrowth along the road.

• Hernandez returned home during the early afternoon Wednesday, wearing a Patriots sweatshirt, red hat and carrying what looked like a sports drink. He did not speak to a crowd of media staked out about 100 feet away.

• WBZ-TV Boston has also reported “a neighbor of Odin’s told WBZ they had seen Hernandez in the neighborhood and that Odin dated the sister of Hernandez’s girlfriend.”

• State police referred questions to Bristol District Attorney Sam Sutter's office, which declined to comment. WHDH-TV in Boston is reporting that the district attorney’s office “hopes to release new information sometime Wednesday.”

• Lloyd's mother, Ursula Ward, said police told her the body was that of her son. "My son is a wonderful child," she said, crying as she spoke outside the family's home in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood. "He's a family guy. He hasn't done anything to hurt anyone."

Arrests

TROUBLE WITH THE LAW

The 2013 offseason was a rough one for NFL players and the law. Take a look back at the players arrested before camp ever opened.

EARLIER …

• Tuesday night, police spent hours at the house as another group of officers searched an industrial park where the body was found Monday. According to FOX 25, some authorities walked around the driveway and in the garage with flashlights. Before wrapping up their work for the night, one officer took a box out of the massive house.

• Sports Illustrated reported that the link between Hernandez and the case was a rented Chevrolet Suburban with Rhode Island plates that police had been searching for. The Associated Press could not independently confirm the report.

• Later Wednesday, at least seven state troopers searched both sides of a road just off the street where Hernandez lives. The officers used thin poles to pull back plants and search through undergrowth along the road.

• Hernandez is represented by the Athletes First agency, which said it has no comment "on the Aaron Hernandez situation." His mother said by phone from Connecticut on Tuesday she had no knowledge of a case involving him."I am aware of the reports, but I do not anticipate that we will be commenting publicly during an ongoing police investigation," Patriots spokesman Stacey James said.

BACKGROUND

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• North Attleborough is south of Boston on the Rhode Island state line, not far from the Patriots' stadium in Foxboro.

• The Patriots drafted Hernandez out of Florida in 2010. Since then, he has combined with Rob Gronkowski to form one of the top tight end duos in the NFL.

• In 38 games, the 6-foot-1, 245-pound Hernandez has 175 receptions for 1,956 yards and 18 touchdowns. He missed 10 games last season with an ankle injury and had shoulder surgery in April, but is expected to be ready for training camp. The Patriots have not said which shoulder was operated on.

• Last summer, the Patriots gave Hernandez a five-year contract. It was worth $40 million, according to reports, and came just months after the team locked up Gronkowski, through 2019.

• "Aaron's improved a lot," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said last summer. "He's worked hard, he's improved a lot in all phases of the game — the passing game, the running game, protection and his overall versatility. He's doing a good job for us."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tagged: Patriots, Aaron Hernandez

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