SHIRLEY (CBS) – Former New England Patriot and convicted killer Aaron Hernandez killed himself in prison overnight, authorities said Wednesday morning.
Here is the message sent out by Christopher Fallon, the Assistant Deputy Commissioner of Communications of the Massachusetts Department of Correction:
On April 19, 2017 Aaron Hernandez was discovered hanged in his cell by corrections officers at the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley Massachusetts at approximately 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. by a physician at the hospital.
Mr. Hernandez was in a single cell in a general population housing unit. Mr. Hernandez hanged himself utilizing a bed sheet that he attached to his cell window.
Mr. Hernandez also attempted to block his door from the inside by jamming the door with various items. The Massachusetts State Police are on scene and the investigation continues. Mr. Hernandez’s next of kin have been notified.
Fallon later told WBZ-TV’s Anna Meiler that Hernandez was not on a suicide watch because there was no indication he wanted to harm himself. Corrections officers found him when they were doing a regular hourly round in the unit.
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.
The I-Team also learned investigators believe the last person to see Hernandez alive was a 22-year-old friend and fellow inmate who is now under suicide watch.
There are no reports of a suicide note, Fallon said, adding that investigators are going through everything in his cell.
Hernandez’s lead attorney in his most recent trial, Jose Baez, said 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,” Baez said in a statement.
“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.”
Hernandez’s body has been turned over to the state medical examiner’s office in Boston where an autopsy “will determine the cause and manner of death,” according to a statement from Worcester District Attorney Joe Early Jr.
WBZ-TV Chief Investigative reporter Cheryl Fiandaca said investigators will be looking into the time Hernandez entered his cell, the last time guards checked on him, and if there were any incidents leading up to his death.
Just five days ago, Hernandez broke down in tears in court as he was acquitted of murder charges in the shooting deaths of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in the South End in July 2012.
Juror Rosita Londono told WBZ-TV, “I was shocked, and then it turned into sadness,” when she heard the news Wednesday.
Read: Aaron Hernandez Coverage
Hernandez, 27, was serving a life sentence at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center for the murder of Odin Lloyd in June 2013.
Veteran defense attorney Randy Chapman told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 that Hernandez’s suicide may cause the murder conviction to be thrown out.
“That will likely be vacated because the conviction was not final, meaning that the state’s Supreme Court had not reviewed it for whether or not there were any errors during the course of the trial,” said Chapman.
Hernandez leaves behind his fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez and their 4-year-old daughter Avielle.
He grew up in Bristol, Connecticut, became a standout tight end at the University of Florida and was drafted by the Patriots in 2010.
He quickly became a star and the Patriots signed him to a five-year contract extension in August 2012, just a month after de Abreu and Furtado were murdered.
In June 2013 he was charged with shooting Lloyd to death, a short distance from his home in North Attleboro and the Patriots released him.
Hernandez was found guilty of first-degree murder in April 2015. He was reportedly on a suicide watch briefly after that verdict.
In an interview last Thursday, Patriots coach Bill Belichick called the Hernandez story a “tragedy” and “heartbreaking.”
The Super Bowl champion Patriots are visiting the White House Wednesday, where they will meet with President Trump.
The Patriots declined to comment on Hernandez’s suicide Wednesday.
His former agent, Brian Murphy, tweeted this reaction to the news:
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports
WATCH: Aaron Hernandez Suicide: ‘Tragic End To Tragic Story’