Cops: Evidence found in 'flop house'

Updated: July 4, 2013, 1:16 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Court documents indicate that the search of a secret "flop house" leased by former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez has turned up what police say could be key evidence in the murder case against him.

Police say they learned about the apartment from Carlos Ortiz, a friend of Hernandez's whom prosecutors say was with the ex-player the night he allegedly arranged the shooting of Odin Lloyd.

They then searched the $1,200-a-month apartment in Franklin, Mass., on June 26, according to search warrant records at Wrentham District Court. Among the findings were a white hooded sweatshirt and a cranberry-colored cap in a bedroom, the documents said.

Surveillance video showed Hernandez, 23, wearing a similar sweatshirt the night Lloyd was killed on June 17, the records say.

He was wearing the cap in a picture shown on a local news station taken outside a nightclub June 14, the Friday before the killing, the documents said. Prosecutors say Hernandez was upset at Lloyd for talking to certain people at the nightclub.

"The white sweatshirt could be used ... to assist in linking Hernandez to the scene of the crime," trooper Michael Bates wrote in an affidavit in support of one of the search warrants.

"The baseball hat could help provide the whereabouts of Hernandez on the Friday night before the homicide."

The search also turned up several boxes of ammunition, including .22-, .45- and 7.62-caliber ammunition.

Lloyd's body was found in an industrial park near Hernandez's North Attleborough, Mass., home. Prosecutors say Hernandez, Ortiz and another man drove there with Lloyd that night, though they haven't said who shot Lloyd.

Hernandez's attorneys say the evidence against him is circumstantial and that he's eager to clear his name.

Sources told NBC Connecticut that Massachusetts investigators believe Ortiz and Ernest Wallace went directly to Hernandez's uncle's house in Bristol, Conn., after leaving Hernandez's house in North Attleborough the night Lloyd was murdered.

In another development, Alexander Bradley, an East Hartford, Conn., man who in a civil lawsuit has charged that Hernandez in February shot him in the eye outside a Florida nightclub, was served an interstate subpoena Tuesday to appear before a Massachusetts grand jury investigating the Hernandez murder case, the Hartford Courant reported.

Bradley's lawyer, David Jaroslawicz, wouldn't comment Tuesday about the nature of the alleged dispute between his client and Hernandez. He said the two flew to South Florida together before getting into a dispute at a Miami club.

The attorney said that Bradley, who worked for Stanley Steemer before the shooting, had done some work for Hernandez and that the two also hung out socially a few times and had known each other for several years.

"Whether or not Hernandez shot him deliberately or accidentally only Hernandez can tell us, and right now he's not doing too much talking," Jaroslawicz said in a phone interview. 

We're not going to revamp our entire security system to perform marriages inside our prison. If you want to get married, what you do is, you stay out of jail.

-- Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson

Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, meanwhile, reiterated on Wednesday that he won't allow Hernandez to marry his fiancée while he is jailed on his murder charge.

"We're not going to revamp our entire security system to perform marriages inside our prison. If you want to get married, what you do is, you stay out of jail," he told the NFL Network on Wednesday in an interview with the "NFL AM" show, adding he's taken away many privileges from inmates, such as weights, televisions in cells and coffee.

By law, Hernandez's fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins, who is also the mother of his 7-month-old daughter, would not have to testify against the former Patriots tight end if they were married. Prosecutors said last week that investigators had been speaking with Jenkins until she received a telephone call from Hernandez telling her to stop talking to authorities.

Hernandez is acclimating well to jail and was moved Monday from the medical unit, where he's been closely watched since arriving, to a different unit. Hernandez will remain in a cell by himself, but now instead of having one hour a day outside that cell, he'll be allowed three hours. In part because of his notoriety, Hernandez won't have contact with other inmates for at least another week.

The jail's gang intelligence unit has finished its evaluation of Hernandez, and Hodgson told ESPN on Monday he's not as concerned as he expected to be when he saw the number of tattoos on Hernandez's body. Hodgson told the NFL Network on Wednesday that they are now monitoring how other inmates react to Hernandez in Phase 2 of their evaluation.

"Now he's in a unit where the inmates, although only one person in that unit can be out at a time, he would still be, for example, in the common area where inmates can walk up to their cell door and see from inside their cells through a glass window and can speak through that door.

"We want to see what reaction we're going to get from those inmates in that unit and how he reacts to that."

Hodgson said Hernandez won't be able to walk up to cell doors to have a conversation with other inmates, "but he could hear them if they decided to yell out."

Also, police in his hometown of Bristol, Conn., said Tuesday that Boston police asked for their help with a double homicide investigation linked to the former NFL star.

Bristol Police Lt. Kevin Morrell said the request was based on evidence developed through the investigation of Lloyd's slaying. He said police were asked to search the same home in Bristol for both investigations, and they seized a vehicle at the address Friday.

NBC Connecticut reported Wednesday, according to sources familiar with the investigation, that Hernandez's family told detectives that the Silver SUV recovered from Hernandez's uncle's house in Bristol belonged to Hernandez and had been in the garage at the house for "about a year," untouched since Hernandez dropped it off.

Two men died in the shooting in Boston's South End on July 15, 2012, and a third man was wounded. Witnesses reported seeing gunfire coming from a gray SUV with Rhode Island license plates.

Authorities said 29-year-old Daniel Jorge Correia de Abreu and 28-year-old Safiro Teixeira Furtado were killed, but police didn't identify the third victim. Boston police have declined to comment on whether Hernandez is being looked at as a possible suspect in that case.

Over the weekend, a man who is married to Hernandez's cousin was killed in a car crash in Connecticut.

Thaddeus Singleton III, 33, of Bristol, was driving the car when it went airborne early Sunday and crashed into the wall of the Farmington Country Club, becoming lodged 5 feet above the ground, police said. They said the car was registered to a man, reportedly Hernandez's uncle, whose home has been searched several times, most recently on Tuesday, and from which another vehicle was seized on Friday. A 27-year-old female passenger was injured.

Authorities said the investigation into the crash would take a significant amount of time, but Farmington police said they had no knowledge that it was linked to the Hernandez case.

Information from ESPN's Bob Holtzman and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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