ATTLEBORO, Mass. (AP) — New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was taken from his home in handcuffs Wednesday morning, more than a week after a Boston semi-pro football player was found dead in an industrial park a mile from Hernandez’s house.
Less than two hours later, the Patriots announced they had released Hernandez.
Odin Lloyd, a 27-year-old semi-pro football player for the Boston Bandits, was found slain June 17. Officials ruled the death a homicide but did not say how Lloyd died.
Lloyd’s relatives said he was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee, that the two men were friends and that the men were out together on the last night of Lloyd’s life.
It’s unclear why Hernandez was taken into custody Wednesday before 9 a.m. and put into the back of a police cruiser. He was wearing a white V-neck T-shirt, with his arms inside the shirt and behind his back as he was led from his North Attleborough home. He casually spit into some bushes on his way to the car.
Hernandez was arrested on a state police warrant at about 8:45 a.m. and was being booked at the North Attleborough police station, state police said on the agency’s Twitter account. State police said they won’t discuss the charge against Hernandez until it’s presented in Attleboro District Court later Wednesday.
The Associated Press emailed a message to his attorney, Michael Fee, who hasn’t discussed the investigation beyond acknowledging media reports about it. A message also was left with the Bristol County district attorney’s office.
At about 10:20 a.m., the Patriots announced they had released Hernandez and expressed sympathy to Lloyd’s family and friends.
“Words cannot express the disappointment we feel knowing that one of our players was arrested as a result of this investigation,” the Patriots said in a statement. “We realize that law enforcement investigations into this matter are ongoing. We support their efforts and respect the process. At this time, we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do.”
Lloyd’s mother, Ursula Ward, declined to comment at her Boston home Wednesday morning.
“Nothing to say, please. Thank you,” she said, before shutting the door.
State police have searched in and around Hernandez’s sprawling home in North Attleborough several times. At least three search warrants have been issued in connection with the investigation.
Reporters have been camped for days outside the home on the Rhode Island line, not far from the stadium where the Patriots play. They reported Tuesday that Hernandez got a visit from Boston defense attorney James Sultan.
The Patriots drafted Hernandez, who is originally from Bristol, Conn., out of the University of Florida in 2010. Last summer, the team gave him a five-year contract worth $40 million.
Patriots spokesman Stacey James has said the team did not anticipate commenting publicly during the police investigation.
Associated Press writers Bridget Murphy in Boston and Howard Ulman contributed to this story.