Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez, who was serving a life sentence for a murder conviction and was recently acquitted of a double murder, died after hanging himself in his prison cell early Wednesday, Massachusetts prisons officials said.
The 27-year-old was found by guards in his cell at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley just after 3 a.m., Department of Correction spokesman Christopher Fallon said in a statement.
The former New England Patriots tight end was pronounced dead at UMass Memorial-HealthAlliance Hospital in Leominster about an hour later.
Hernandez was in a single cell in a general population housing unit in the maximum security state prison. He hanged himself using a bed sheet that he attached to a cell window, Fallon said.
Hernandez tried to block the cell door from the inside by jamming the door with various items, Fallon said.
Fallon said he’s not aware of any suicide note written by Hernandez and stressed that an investigation is ongoing, reports ESPN.com. He said that officials had no concern that Hernandez was planning on taking his own life, and if there was a concern about his well-being, Hernandez would have been transferred to a mental health unit.
Hernandez cried on Friday after he was acquitted of the 2012 fatal shootings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in Boston. Just before his acquittal, Hernandez was seen blowing kisses to the little girl he fathered with fiancée Shayanna Jenkins.
But Hernandez was still serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for his conviction in the 2013 shooting of Odin Lloyd, who was dating Jenkins’ sister.
As previously reported, he was acquitted in the slayings of de Abreu and Furtado, whom prosecutors contended were gunned down after one of the men accidentally spilled a drink on Hernandez in a Boston nightclub. The jury in that case found Hernandez not guilty of first-degree murder but convicted him of unlawful possession of a gun, and the judge sentenced him to an additional four to five years in prison — separate from his existing life sentence.
Hernandez’s death comes the same day the Patriots are making their visit to the White House today to mark their Super Bowl win.