When Aaron Hernandez was found dead in his prison cell, he had the citation of a Bible verse written on his forehead, according to multiple reports Wednesday. The former Patriots tight end, who had recently been acquitted of a double-murder but was serving a life sentence on a separate murder conviction, was declared to have hanged himself with a bed sheet.
According to law enforcement sources, as reported by several Boston TV stations, Hernandez had "John 3:16" written with a red marker on his forehead. The widely quoted verse says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life," and a Bible found in his cell was reportedly opened to that page.
Authorities said that Hernandez, 27, did not leave a suicide note and was not under suicide watch at his Massachusetts prison, where he had been since his 2015 conviction of the 2013 death of Odin Lloyd. On Friday, a Boston jury found Hernandez not guilty of the 2012 deaths of two men, Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado.
Hernandez was said to have been in a single cell in a general population housing unit and had used various items to block his door before he was found. Officers attempted to save his life, then took him to a hospital, where a doctor pronounced him dead at 4:07 a.m.
An investigation into Hernandez's death is ongoing, and WBZ reported that authorities were looking into the possibility that he may have consumed a drug called K2, or "synthetic marijuana," Tuesday night. The station also reported that another inmate, a friend of Hernandez's who was one of the last to see him, is under suicide watch at the prison's health service unit.
"The family and legal team is shocked and surprised at the news of Aaron's death," Jose Baez, Hernandez's attorney, said in a statement. "There were no conversations or correspondence from Aaron to his family or legal team that would have indicated anything like this was possible. Aaron was looking forward to an opportunity for a second chance to prove his innocence. Those who love and care about him are heartbroken and determined to find the truth surrounding his untimely death."
Baez had been helping Hernandez appeal his murder conviction, and as a result of his death before exhausting the legal process, that conviction will be voided. The change in Hernandez's legal status could force the Patriots to pay his family $3.25 million in signing-bonus money they have withheld in the wake of the charges against him in three murders, and the NFL might similarly be compelled to make pension payments to Hernandez's family.