Former NFL Star Commits Suicide in Prison

Aaron Hernandez
Former New England Patriots NFL football player Aaron Hernandez attends a pre-trial hearing at Suffolk Superior Court, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015, in Boston. Hernandez is charged with killing two Boston men in 2012 after a chance encounter at a nightclub. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, Pool)

SHIRLEY, Mass. (CBS News) — Convicted killer and former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez killed himself in prison overnight, authorities said Wednesday morning.

Hernandez, 27, 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 added.

He said he’s not aware of any suicide note left by Hernandez, but stressed that the investigation is ongoing.

Fallon said officials had no concern that Hernandez was planning on taking his own life, and Hernandez would have been transferred to a mental health unit if there was any concern about his well-being.

Just last week, Hernandez was moved to tears when he was acquitted of murder charges in the shooting deaths of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in July 2012, which prosecutors said were fueled by his anger over a drink spilled at a nightclub.

Hernandez was serving a life sentence for the murder of Odin Lloyd in June 2013. Lloyd was dating his fiancee’s sister.

The Patriots were scheduled to go to the White House Wednesday to be greeted by President Trump and mark their latest Super Bowl win. Team spokesperson Stacey James said the Patriots were aware of the reports of Hernandez’s death but didn’t anticipate commenting Wednesday.

Just before last week’s acquittal, Hernandez was seen blowing kisses to the 4-year-old girl he fathered with fiancee Shayanna Jenkins. Cameras captured the tender exchange.

Hernandez’s lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment about his suicide.

Hernandez’s body has been turned over to the state medical examiner’s office, reports CBS Boston.

Hernandez was a standout tight end at the University of Florida and was drafted by the Patriots in 2010, the station notes.

He quickly became a star and the Patriots signed him to a five-year contract extension in August 2012, just a month after de Abreu and Furtado were slain.

When he was charged with shooting Lloyd to death, the Patriots released him.

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