Everyone in the National Football League knew that Aaron Hernandez was likely to come with baggage. Elite tight ends from major college programs like the University of Florida do not drop into the fourth round of the NFL draft – as Hernandez did in 2010 – unless there are lingering questions. Big ones.
Now those questions are coming to the fore as a murder investigation swirls around Hernandez.
Local and state police intensified their investigation of Hernandez Saturday, searching his house and grounds for nearly four hours and leaving with about 10 bags of evidence, according to the Los Angeles Times. Moreover, a paper warrant for Hernandez's arrest on obstruction of justice charges has been issued but not yet executed, reports FOX 25 Boston.
A paper warrant is often issued as a way to persuade defense attorneys to cooperate, said FOX 25's legal analyst, Brad Bailey.
"It may be that this is a squeeze tactic," he said. "It may be telling Mr. Hernandez that we have a warrant, a warrant for a crime that has a potential maximum penalty of seven years in prison, is a tactic to get him to come to the table, start talking and start cooperating. And that's where the lawyers may be saying, 'OK, we got it. You got our attention. We're willing to respond.' "
ABC originally reported that Hernandez "destroyed his home security system,'' and that he handed over his cellphone to authorities "in pieces." Numerous reports also note that Hernandez had a cleaning service scrub his house Monday.
Other media reports have established a cursory timeline in the case. The Boston Globe has reported that video images show Hernandez with Odin Lloyd, a semipro football player, in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston early Monday morning. The Fox 25 report cites sources saying there is video evidence of Hernandez and two men in hooded sweatshirts walking into Hernandez's home between 3:00 and 3:30 a.m. Monday.
Police say Lloyd was murdered – shot in the back of the head – at an industrial park near Hernandez's North Attleborough, Mass., home before dawn Monday.
Hernandez has found himself tailed by trouble since his days as a member of the University of Florida Gators.
In 2007, Hernandez was one of four Gators interviewed by police after the shooting of two men, one fatally, in Gainesville, Fla., the night after the Gators lost to Auburn, 20-17. He was never charged with any crime.
Before the NFL draft in 2010, Hernandez admitted to NFL teams that he had failed numerous drug tests, and concern among NFL personnel about Hernandez's potential connection to people with gang ties led him to drop to the fourth round, reports Sports Illustrated.
More recently, on May 18, police found a handgun apparently discarded under a vehicle near where Hernandez was accosted by a New York Jets fan at 2:26 a.m. in Providence, R.I. Police were never able to identify whose gun it was or how it got there, according to the Sports Illustrated report.
Then last week, a civil lawsuit against Hernandez was filed, alleging that Hernandez shot a man, Alexander Bradley, in south Florida in February, injuring Bradley's arm and causing him to lose an eye. "Hernandez shot him," said Bradley's lawyer, David Jaroslawicz, in a phone interview with Sports Illustrated. "It's either a negligence case or a deliberate shooting. We'll see if Hernandez wants to come in and raise his right hand and tell us what happened."
Some who know Hernandez say is has a good heart but had a difficult time coping after his father's death in 2006 and has fallen in with the wrong crowd. University of Florida coaches always worried when Hernandez returned home to Bristol, Conn., according to Sports Illustrated.
"There were always people that were trying to surround themselves with him that weren't in his best interest and they were around him," one former coach said. "For him, it's like anything else. He's a good-hearted kid who had a hard time saying no."