“This is the REAL DEAL !!! Aaron Hernandez’ (sic) infamous silver Toyota 4-runner,” the eBay listing reads. “Nows your chance to own this infamous piece of famous football memorabilia !!”
The vehicle is owned by Jack Fox, a car dealer in East Providence, Rhode Island, and had been leased to Hernandez. Fox teamed up with his friend Buddy Clair, a car dealer in Westford, Massachusetts, to put the car up for sale on eBay.
“We figured there’s a lot of sports people out there, a lot of people that want memorabilia,” Clair said. “It’s just a strange thing to try to sell. We’ll just see where it goes.”
Clair also threw in a signed Hernandez jersey to the winner of the auction. He initially started the bidding at $100, and bids had already reached $8,100 by midday Tuesday.
The eBay listing came just over two weeks after Hernandez, the former NFL star tight end, was found not guilty of two counts of murder in a July 2012 drive-by shooting outside a Boston nightclub.
Prosecutors alleged that Hernandez and a friend were in his Toyota 4Runner when Hernandez opened fire at a packed BMW, killing Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, two immigrants from Cape Verde.
Hernandez was already serving a sentence of life in prison for the June 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd. Hernandez was found hanged in his cell in an apparent suicide less than a week after the double-murder trial ended.
Origin of the car
Fox leased Hernandez the car and the license plate shortly after Hernandez entered the NFL and was drafted by the New England Patriots. In exchange, Hernandez provided signed memorabilia and tickets for Fox and appeared at promotional events at the dealership.
The two had a good professional relationship, Fox testified in court during the double-murder trial. At one point, Hernandez called Fox to say that his car wouldn’t start, but it was simply out of gas, Fox said.
Hernandez took the car in to Fox’s dealership for regular checks until the summer of 2012. Fox said he didn’t see it again after that, and when he tried to get it back from Hernandez, the NFL player declined and offered to buy it outright.
Separately, Suffolk County prosecutors were searching for the whereabouts of a silver SUV with Rhode Island plates that they believed had been used in a drive-by shooting in July 2012 in Boston. They could not locate the car, and the case went cold.
Investigators got a break in the case when Hernandez was arrested in June 2013 in the murder of Lloyd. Upon searching the home of Hernandez’s trusted relative, they found the silver SUV with Rhode Island plates in the garage, prosecutors said.
With the car as a key piece of evidence, Hernandez was indicted in May 2014 on two counts of murder in the drive-by shooting. At trial, prosecutors urged jurors to convict him because of his ownership of what Assistant District Attorney Patrick Haggan referred to in closing arguments as the “murder car.”
“That car is tied to one man, and one man only: Aaron Hernandez,” Haggan said.
Hernandez leased a new rental car the day after the shooting, which prosecutors said showed his “consciousness of guilt.”
‘Runs great !!’
After the trial, the vehicle was released from police impound back to Fox, and he enlisted Clair to help sell it.
At the time, Clair said he didn’t know that much about the vehicle’s history. But he and his son saw that Hernandez jerseys were selling for expensive prices on eBay.
Except for two broken side mirrors, the 4Runner still “runs great !!” and has just over 53,000 miles on it, according to the listing. Still, the listing promotes the vehicle less as a functional car and more as a collectible for Hernandez enthusiasts.
“The Toyota is just the way it came from the impound yard, and still has the black soot on the map lights, and sunroof switch where the police dusted for finger prints !!” the listing says.
Clair said the car on its own would sell for about $20,000, but he was not sure what it was worth given its particular history. “It’s kinda like a test right now to see how it does,” he added. “It’s hard to say and hard to put a number on it.”
He said many people have already reached out to him about checking it out and buying it.
“So many people have heard about it and come by here and say, ‘Can we see the car?'” Clair said.