By Kelly Glista, Hartford Courant
NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH, Mass. – Aaron Hernandez remained a free man Saturday, even as reports mounted that an arrest warrant has been prepared to charge him with interfering with the investigation into the shooting death of a man who was dating his girlfriend’s sister.
At about 1:45 p.m., a large contingent of police entered the New England Patriots’ star tight end and Bristol native’s house. Two k-9 units also entered the house. Police searched the backyard and photographed Hernandez’s SUV. By 3:30 more police vehicles were arriving, in addition to a locksmith, who entered the house.
Hernandez’s attorney, Michael Fee, arrived at the home at about 3:40 p.m..
ABC News reported that Hernandez and the victim, Odin Lloyd, 27, a semi-pro football player, had been together at several nightclubs last weekend, including the night before Lloyd’s body was found less than a mile from Hernandez’s North Attleborough, Mass. Home.
Multiple reports indicate Hernandez destroyed his cell phone and the security system at his home, which might have provided video showing the victim at his house. Investigators were also probing reports that Hernandez hired a crew to clean the home. A spokesman for the Attleborough District Court, which covers Hernandez’s town, told ABC that a warrant has been drawn up charging Hernandez with obstruction of justice.
Legal experts have said that while the courts are closed on the weekend, it is possible the warrant can be signed by a judge and served either Saturday or Sunday.
On Saturday morning, the cars and vans from assorted media organizations that lined Hernandez’s quiet street were the only indication that the former Bristol Central High and University of Florida star has been embroiled in a homicide investigation.
But that changes Saturday afternoon when police pulled up and entered the home.
Lloyd’s body was found in a vacant lot off John L. Dietsch Boulevard, an industrial park area less than a mile from the Hernandez home.
Patrol cars from the North Attleborough police department and the Bristol County sheriff’s office were blocking the scene Saturday. Officers could be seen driving through both the industrial park and Hernandez’s neighborhood Saturday afternoon.
The blinds were drawn at the players’ house and a newspaper lay untouched on the front lawn. Three cars sat in the driveway, including the white Audi that Hernandez was seen arriving in Friday afternoon.
Financial fallout from the investigation was also beginning to mount. CtyoSport, which makes the Muscle Milk line of supplements that Hernandez endorsed, fired the player Friday.
Just before 5 p.m. Friday, Hernandez arrived at his house in a white Audi SUV driven by his lawyer. One more man arrived in a separate car, and all three entered the house.
A half-hour later, Fee and the other man left without acknowledging reporters.
Around noon, the Reuters news service reported that an arrest warrant had been issued for Hernandez’s arrest, citing an anonymous police officer.
Fox25 in Boston, citing a source, said an arrest warrant for obstruction of justice was issued early Friday. The station did not identify the source.
The source told Fox25 that the warrant is what is known as a “paper warrant” and has not yet been entered into the system. State police are not executing the warrant at this time, but if the warrant were entered into the system, any police officer could immediately arrest Hernandez, they reported.
Police have sought to question Hernandez but have not called Hernandez a suspect in the killing.
Lloyd, a semi-pro football player, reportedly left a club with two men, including Hernandez, late Sunday night or early Monday morning, but only two men returned to Hernandez’s home.
Reports indicate a jogger found Lloyd’s dead body at 5:30 p.m. Monday in an industrial park one mile from the Patriots player’s home and that a vehicle rented in Hernandez’s name was nearby. According to reports by SI.com, Lloyd died between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. Monday.
Hernandez has been under scrutiny ever since, Hernandez has not been ruled out as a suspect, law enforcement sources told ABC News.
On Thursday night, Boston’s Fox 25 News reported that neighbors heard shots fired between 3 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. Monday and that there was video surveillance footage showing Hernandez and two other men wearing hooded sweatshirts entering Hernandez’s home moments later. An hour before that, Hernandez was seen at Lloyd’s home.
The television station also reported that a hard drive to Hernandez’s home security system was heavily damaged and a cell phone destroyed.
In the meantime, Fee, a lawyer with Ropes and Gray in the Boston area, released a statement regarding Hernandez and the investigation: “Out of respect for that process, neither we nor Aaron will have any comment about the substance of that investigation until it has come to a conclusion.”
Police visited his home on Tuesday and Wednesday, then returned with a warrant Thursday and reportedly had serious questions regarding why the home security system and cell phone they took from Hernandez were destroyed and why a team of house cleaners was hired Monday to clean the football player’s mansion.
Fox 25, citing an anonymous source, reported Wednesday night that forensic evidence linked a vehicle driven by Hernandez to the crime scene. The TV station also reported that Hernandez was with Lloyd at a Boston bar on the night of Lloyd’s death.
The Boston Globe reported Thursday that video images show Hernandez and Lloyd together in Dorchester early Monday, hours before Lloyd’s bullet-riddled body was found.
Hernandez reportedly hasn’t been cooperating with investigators in the case and has hired a lawyer. He was seen leaving the home with a woman earlier Wednesday in a white Audi SUV. He didn’t stop to offer a comment to reporters. The Patriots released a statement offering no comment.
Police searched Hernandez’s home for several hours on Tuesday night and left with a large box. They also returned on Wednesday. Two men leaving the home Tuesday were stopped in the driveway and questioned by police. Officers also searched the industrial park area where the body was found for evidence.
According to NFL.com, Hernandez visited Gillette Stadium on Thursday, although coaches and players were on vacation and owner Robert Kraft and other team executives were also not there. Reportedly, the only players there were a few rookies.
Lloyd, 27, was a linebacker for the semi-pro Boston Bandits. There were indications that he was shot and the body dumped in the industrial park. Lloyd had practiced with the team on Saturday.
Lloyd was dating the sister of Shayanna Jenkins, Hernandez’s girlfriend and mother of his child, at the time of Lloyd’s death.
In 2007, Hernandez was interviewed by Gainesville, Fla., police about a shooting that occurred after Florida’s 20-17 loss to Auburn. Hernandez wasn’t considered a suspect. His mother confirmed to the Orlando Sentinel that her son and a friend from Connecticut were in a nightclub near where the shooting took place.
On Tuesday, the story of a lawsuit in Florida emerged. in which Alexander S. Bradley alleged that Hernandez pointed a gun at him and it discharged while they riding in a vehicle, striking Bradley in the face and resulting in the loss of his right eye and other facial injuries that required surgery. According to the suit, the two men had argued outside a strip club.