Aaron Hernandez taken into custody
New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was taken from his home in handcuffs Wednesday morning, more than a week after a Boston semi-pro football player was found dead in an industrial park a mile from Hernandez's house.
Less than two hours later, the Patriots announced they had released Hernandez.
Hernandez will be arraigned at 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday at Attleboro District Court.
Odin Lloyd, a 27-year-old semi-pro football player for the Boston Bandits, was found slain June 17. Officials ruled the death a homicide but did not say how Lloyd died.
Lloyd's relatives said he was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee, that the two men were friends and that the men were out together on the last night of Lloyd's life.
It's unclear why Hernandez was taken into custody Wednesday before 9 a.m. and put into the back of a police cruiser. He was wearing a white V-neck T-shirt, with his arms inside the shirt and behind his back as he was led from his North Attleborough home. He casually spit into some bushes on his way to the car.
Hernandez was arrested on a state police warrant at about 8:45 a.m. and was being booked at the North Attleborough police station, state police said on the agency's Twitter account. State police said they won't discuss the charge against Hernandez until it's presented in Attleboro District Court later Wednesday.
Hernandez was taken from the North Attleborough police station to his court hearing Wednesday afternoon. About two dozen supporters cheered, some yelling "We love you Aaron," as the car carrying him left the police station.
The Associated Press emailed a message to his attorney, Michael Fee, who hasn't discussed the investigation beyond acknowledging media reports about it. A message also was left with the Bristol County district attorney's office.
At about 10:20 a.m., the Patriots announced they had released Hernandez and expressed sympathy to Lloyd's family and friends.
"Words cannot express the disappointment we feel knowing that one of our players was arrested as a result of this investigation," the Patriots said in a statement. "We realize that law enforcement investigations into this matter are ongoing. We support their efforts and respect the process. At this time, we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do."
The NFL also released a statement:
“The involvement of an NFL player in a case of this nature is deeply troubling, the Patriots have released Aaron Hernandez, who will have his day in court," the league said. "At the same time we should not forget the young man who was the victim in this case and take this opportunity to extend our deepest sympathy to Odin Lloyd's family and friends.”
Lloyd's mother, Ursula Ward, declined to comment at her Boston home Wednesday morning.
"Nothing to say, please. Thank you," she said, before shutting the door.
State police have searched in and around Hernandez's sprawling home in North Attleborough several times. At least three search warrants have been issued in connection with the investigation.
-- The Associated Press
A law-enforcement official told FOX 25 in Boston last week 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 in the time between.
ABC reported that video surveillance from Hernandez's neighborhood shows Hernandez with Lloyd and two others only hours before Lloyd's body was found.
Sports Illustrated reported that the original link between Hernandez and the case was a rented Chevrolet Suburban with Rhode Island plates that police had been searching for.
A chronology of events in the investigation of Hernandez in connection with a friend's death:
- June 17: Lloyd's body is found in an industrial park a mile from Hernandez's home.
- June 18: Police spend hours searching Hernandez's home as another group of officers search the industrial park.
- June 19: The Bristol County district attorney's office says the state medical examiner ruled Lloyd's death a homicide. A man files a lawsuit claiming Hernandez shot him in the face after they argued at a strip club in Miami in February.
- June 20: A news helicopter follows along as Hernandez drives from his home to the Patriots stadium. State police search brush with metal detectors and poles on a road leading to the entrance to Hernandez's subdivision.
- June 21: CytoSport, which makes Muscle Milk and other supplements for athletes, says it's ending Hernandez's endorsement contract, effective immediately, because of the investigation. The Hernandez investigation leads officers to a Providence strip club, but police wouldn't say what they were doing there. Family members say Hernandez and Lloyd were together the night Lloyd died.
- June 22: State police with dogs return to Hernandez's home to conduct an additional search.
- June 23: Officers don wetsuits to search woods near Hernandez's home.
- June 24: Hernandez is taken from his home in handcuffs and driven away in a police cruiser.
• 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.
• 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.
Associated Press contributed to this report