Aaron Hernandez’s cause of death has been established following the former standout football player’s demise in prison this week.
The one-time New England Patriots star, who was serving a life sentence for the murder of Odin Lloyd, was found dead early Wednesday.
He was only 27.
A representative for the Massachusetts Department of Corrections said in a statement at the time Hernandez’s body was found:
“Mr. Hernandez [hanged] himself utilizing a bed sheet that he attached to his cell window. [He] was in a single cell in a general population unit.”
“Mr. Hernandez also attempted to block his door from the inside by jamming the door with various items.”
Prison sources say that Hernandez was discovered at 3:05 a.m. and that those who came across his body tried to save his life at the time.
He was taken to a nearby hospital and pronounced dead at 4:07 a.m., with all signs pointing to him having committed suicide in his cell.
Not so fast, his attorney and inner circle insisted.
Hernandez’s attorney, Jose Baez, who just secured an acquittal for him in an unrelated double murder this month, disputed that conclusion.
Baez said the Bristol, Conn., native’s family and legal team were “shocked and surprised” and that if nothing else, he was skeptical.
He had previously expressed optimism for getting Hernandez’s original murder conviction overturned, saying in a 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, Baez correctly states, was not on suicide watch, and “looking forward to an opportunity for a second chance to prove his innocence.”
So was Aaron Hernandez murdered in prison?
No. Despite the disbelief among family, friends and colleagues, Hernandez’s cause of death has been officially ruled a suicide by hanging.
The medical examiner in charge of the case and officials say they recovered three handwritten suicide notes at the scene of his death.
The Worcester District Attorney’s Office said:
“Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Henry N. Nields performed an autopsy on Mr. Hernandez on Wednesday.”
“[Neilds] concluded today that the manner of death was suicide and the cause asphyxia by hanging.”
Investigators also found “cardboard jammed into the door tracks of his single-inmate cell to impede entry into the cell.”
The D.A.’s office put to rest any notion that someone else caused or assisted in his efforts to die, continuing its statement.
“There were no signs of a struggle, and investigators determined that Mr. Hernandez was alone at the time of the hanging.”
As for the suicide notes, investigators found three hand-written messages attributed to Hernandez next to a Bible in the cell.
One of the notes addressed the general public, according to reports, while the other two were written to specific people.
In another message of sorts, WBZ Boston reported earlier that Aaron was found with “John 3:16” scrawled on his forehead.
John 3:16 is undoubtedly a reference to the oft-quoted Bible verse, possibly the most famous in the entire Bible, which reads:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
WBZ also reportd that authorities are investigating the possibility that Hernandez was high on synthetic marijuana at the time.
That will likely have to wait until further testing to be established, but there was a large amount of blood smeared on the cell walls.
In any case, now that the cause and manner of death have been determined, Aaron – like many former NFL stars – will be studied.
Officials say Hernandez’s brain will be released to Boston University’s CTE Center as Mr. Hernandez’s family wishes.