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Vaughan: Warrant shows possible Hernandez link to double killing
Detectives initially zeroed in on football star Aaron Hernandez as a possible suspect in a 2012 double-murder in Boston within hours of the first news reports linking him to another slaying, newly released court documents show.
That first inkling came from a detective investigating the unsolved killings who recalled recognizing Hernandez on surveillance footage from a nightclub the victims had visited shortly before they were shot on a highway overpass.
And that initial suspicion was bolstered days later when a man called police and asserted that the July 16, 2012, shooting, which left a third man wounded, was connected to the June 17, 2013, murder of Odin Lloyd. The man said the same person was involved in both killings. He provided enough details about the Boston case to lead detectives to believe that he had intimate knowledge of the shootings.
“Someone accidentally spilled the beans in front of me,” the man told a police dispatcher who asked him how he knew about the possible connection, according to a search warrant affidavit made public in Hernandez’s hometown of Bristol, Conn.
Hernandez, a former Pro Bowl tight end for the New England Patriots, faces murder and weapons charges in Lloyd’s killing but has not been charged in the 2012 case, which remains the subject of an ongoing grand jury investigation in Suffolk County, where Boston is located.
“At this point, it’s still an open investigation,” said Jake Wark, spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley.
Hernandez has pleaded not guilty in Lloyd’s killing.
The newly released information is contained in a search warrant for phone records from a Connecticut jail where a longtime Hernandez associate made multiple calls in which he allegedly discussed the 2012 case. The warrant provides the most detailed account yet of the possible link between Hernandez and the murders of Daniel Abreu, 29, and Safiro Furtado, 28, on a south Boston street.
The warrant was first obtained by the Hartford Courant.
In it, detectives lay out potential links between Hernandez and the killings of Abreu and Furtado and the wounding of a third man.
The warrant allowed investigators to obtain recordings of phone calls made by Alexander Bradley while he was being held in a Hartford, Conn., jail waiting to testify before the grand jury investigating the 2012 deaths and on unrelated charges.
According to the warrant, Bradley placed a total of 13 calls on eight separate days between Oct. 4 and Oct. 15 – and investigators believe he discussed the killings of Abreu and Furtado.
Bradley has been described by a prosecutor in the Lloyd case as Hernandez’s former “right-hand man.” However, Bradley has since sued Hernandez in federal court in Florida, alleging that the player shot him in the face in February after a dispute at a nightclub. Bradley was left for dead along a deserted road but survived.
He refused to cooperate with police, and no criminal charges were ever filed. However, he filed that civil suit, asserting that Hernandez shot him and that he lost an eye and suffered other permanent injuries as a result.
JUDGE FOR YOURSELFSee the photos that allegedly show Aaron Hernandez holding a gun.
Detectives investigating the 2012 shootings were stymied for nearly a year.
What they knew was that Abreu, Furtado and three other men left a nightclub known as Cure Lounge on Boston’s south side and were sitting at a stop light a few blocks away when someone pulled up in a silver or gray sport-utility vehicle and opened fire. Witnesses described it as a Toyota 4Runner or Nissan Pathfinder with Rhode Island plates. Abreu and Furtado died almost instantly, and one of three men in the back seat suffered a gunshot wound in the arm. The other two men, who were not hurt, fled and were questioned later.
Other than the description of the vehicle, police investigators professed that there was little to go on. Abreu and Furtado, immigrants from Cape Verde, were not involved in gangs.
Then came Lloyd’s killing and the almost immediate focus on Hernandez, who was engaged to the sister of Lloyd’s girlfriend.
A detective working on the 2012 case remembered that he had seen images of Hernandez in the club around the same time as the victims and a member of the business’ security staff called with the tip that the cases were related.
As a result, detectives went back to the video surveillance from the club and from other cameras in the area.
They located footage of Hernandez parking in a garage down the street from the club at 12:04 a.m. on July 16, 2012, according to the warrant. He was driving a silver 2006 Toyota 4Runner with Rhode Island license plates. The footage showed Hernandez and a man later identified as Bradley outside Cure Lounge a short time later. The two of them entered the club just after Abreu, Furtado and their three friends.
Shortly after 1 a.m., Hernandez and Bradley left the club, and ultimately left the parking garage at 1:17 a.m.
It was nearly an hour before Abreu, Furtado and their friends emerged from the club, and they walked down a sidewalk toward the same parking garage Hernandez had used. As they walked, according to the warrant, “what appears to be a silver Toyota 4Runner (consistent with the vehicle Hernandez was operating) can be seen traveling in the left hand lane closest to the sidewalk.”
The vehicle slowly passed the five men at 2:17 a.m., went down the street and turned. A camera captured it several minutes later coming down the street again as three of the men stood on the sidewalk, apparently waiting for Abreu and Furtado to get their car. Again it was being driven very slowly – according to the warrant, “other traffic is passing the Toyota 4Runner due to its decreased speed.”
The shootings of Abreu, Furtado and the other man were reported less than 15 minutes later several blocks from the club.
The 4Runner was registered to a Toyota dealer in Providence, R.I., and was loaned to Hernandez in exchange for some promotional work he did, according to the warrant.
Officials at the dealership told investigators they had not seen the 4Runner since May of 2012 – a month before the shootings.
On June 26, 2013 – the day Hernandez was arrested in Lloyd’s killing – detectives searched a home in Bristol, Conn., owned by the player’s uncle. They found the 4Runner parked in the garage, covered with dust and cobwebs. A cousin of Hernandez’s said he’d left the 4Runner in Bristol “about a year ago,” according to the warrant.
While Bradley was being held in the Hartford jail, detectives monitored his phone calls – as inmates are repeatedly told is possible.
On Oct. 5, a Connecticut officer contacted local police and told them that it appeared Bradley was discussing the case in phone calls.
Other evidence in the 2012 case has also come to light in recent months.
Last June 21, state troopers responded to a three-vehicle crash in western Massachusetts. When they searched one of the wrecked vehicles, they found a .38-caliber handgun in the trunk – and, according to multiple media reports, it has been linked to the killings of Abreu and Furtado.
According to a police report, the woman who was driving that car told officers that “a few days ago she gave a ride to a friend named ‘Chicago’ and his buddies. She stated that they are football players and they put all their belongings in the trunk. She stated that she dropped them off at work and they left their belongings in the vehicle ...”
The man identified as “Chicago,” John A. Alcorn, has ties to a cousin of Hernandez, Tanya Singleton, who has been charged with contempt of court for failing to testify before a grand jury and with conspiracy to commit accessory after the fact in Lloyd’s killing. Alcorn is a relative of Singleton’s now-deceased husband, who was killed in a high-speed car crash June 30.