WASHINGTON – Disgraced former NFL player Aaron Hernandez committed suicide in his prison cell on Wednesday morning, the Massachusetts Department of Corrections said – five days after being acquitted of a double murder. He was 27.
Officers found the former New England Patriot hanging in his cell at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Mass. at 3:05 a.m. EDT.
“Mr. Hernandez was in a single cell in a general population unit,” a statement from the DOC said. “Mr. Hernandez hanged himself utilizing a bedsheet that he attached to his cell window.
“Mr. Hernandez also attempted to block his door from the inside by jamming the door with various items.”
He was rushed to UMass Memorial – HealthAlliance Hospital in Leominster, where he was pronounced dead about an hour later.
Massachusetts State Police are investigating the death.
Hernandez, who was serving a life sentence for murder, was acquitted on Friday of killing two men in Boston in 2012. He was accused of killing Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in a drive-by shooting in July 2012 after an altercation outside a nightclub. Prosecutors said Hernandez was angry because de Abreu had accidentally bumped into him on the dance floor and Hernandez had spilled his drink. He pleaded not guilty in the case.
His fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins Hernandez, and 4-year-old daughter came to court during jury deliberations, and he was seen blowing them kisses.
The jury acquitted Hernandez on seven of eight charges after deliberating for 37 hours. He was convicted only of an illegal firearms charge.
The acquittal came almost exactly two years after he was sentenced to life in prison without parole for murdering Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro football player in June 2013. Hernandez was appealing his conviction.
Hernandez once had a $40 million, five-year contract with the Patriots. The team dropped the tight end hours after his arrest on June 26, 2013.
The Patriots, the Super Bowl champions, were scheduled to meet with President Donald Trump at the White House on Wednesday.
Six players are reportedly skipping the event. Devin McCourty, LeGarrette Blount, Alan Branch, Dont’a Hightower, Chris Long and Martellus Bennett have said they will not attend, with all except Hightower citing political reasons as their decision.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady skipped his team’s meeting with then-President Barack Obama in 2015. Brady said that the decision was not political but that he had a prior family commitment. He also skipped today for personal reasons.