Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez has been indicted in the July 2012 killings of two Boston men, allegations that come a year after what had been a cold case investigation into the late-night drive-by shooting was revived — seemingly by chance — as investigators zeroed in on the former New England Patriot’s alleged involvement in another killing.
A grand jury indicted Hernandez on two counts of first-degree murder, three counts of armed assault with intent to murder and an additional count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
Hernandez is behind bars while awaiting trial on a charge of first-degree murder in the shooting of another man — Odin Lloyd, a semiprofessional football player whose body was discovered last June in an industrial park near Hernandez’s mansion.
Now, prosecutors say the former NFL tight end was the shooter in the July 16, 2012, slayings of Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado, who were killed in a drive-by shooting after leaving a popular Boston nightclub.
“Mr. Abreu and Mr. Furtado were ambushed and executed as they drove home,” said Dan Conley, the Suffolk County district attorney. The Boston Globe first reported the indictment Thursday.
“For us, this case was not about Aaron Hernandez. This case was about two victims, who were stalked, ambushed, and senselessly murdered on the streets of the city they called home,” Conley said.
The new charges, combined with scores of court documents showing Hernandez’s potential links to several other shootings in recent years, paint an increasingly violent portrait of a young man once celebrated as one of the nation’s most promising up-and-coming athletes.
While a small but vocal group of NFL and Patriots fans have rallied around Hernandez in the year since he was charged in Lloyd’s killing, prosecutors’ new allegations suggest the troubling possibility that the 24-year-old millionaire may have played an entire NFL season after participating in the slaying of two men.
The following account of what happened that night is drawn from police documents detailing their investigative efforts and outlining the evidence they believe links Hernandez to the crime.
July 16, 2012
According to court documents, video surveillance shows Hernandez arriving at Cure nightclub in Boston’s Theater District at 12:04 a.m. driving a 2006 Toyota 4Runner with Rhode Island license plates.
Minutes later, video from outside the club shows Hernandez and a light-skinned Hispanic man entering the club. They walk in immediately behind Abreu, Furtado and three other men who were out that night with the victims.
“This was a chance encounter where two young men … basically had an encounter that led to their deaths,” said Boston Police Commissioner William Evans.
Hernandez and the other man immediately go downstairs, out of sight of the club’s cameras, but come back to the main level after about 10 minutes. Hernandez then downs two drinks and leaves the club.
Video from outside the club then shows Hernandez and the other Hispanic man entering the parking garage and leaving in the Toyota 4Runner about 1:07 a.m., with Hernandez driving and the other man in the passenger seat.
An hour later, at 2:10 a.m., the victims leave the club and walk down the street toward the parking garage.
As they walk down the street, video footage shows a vehicle matching the description of Hernandez’s SUV driving slowly past the group of men and then looping around the block and driving slowly past them again.
The victims then pile into a black BMW and drive away from the parking garage, stopping a few blocks away at a red light, waiting to make a left turn that would lead the men home.
Two men who were driving in the area at the same time told police that a silver or gray SUV with Rhode Island plates pulled up next to them at a red light. They told police they saw a Hispanic man with short dark hair driving and a black man with braids in the passenger seat. The men said the SUV ran the red light and sped up to the next intersection, where the BMW was stopped.
Seconds later, six gunshots rang out and the SUV sped off.
“Aaron Hernandez then fired a .38 caliber revolver multiple times from the driver’s side of his vehicle into the passenger side of the victims’ vehicle,” Conley said.
Two of the men riding in the backseat of the BMW jumped out and ran. The third called out to Furtado — who was in the passenger seat — but got no response. Furtado was dead.
When Boston police detectives arrived at 2:32 a.m., they found the BMW sitting at the intersection with the engine running.
Abreu was still in the driver’s seat, dead from a gunshot wound to the chest. Seated next to him was the body of Furtado, dead from a gunshot to the head.
A third shooting victim was also at the scene with bullets in both arms. His wounds were not fatal.
Prosecutors say Hernandez did not know either of the victims. Initial media reports said the two men may have been linked to a local Boston gang, but Conley said that was untrue.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Conley said Thursday. “That characterization was unfair to them and their families.”
Odin Lloyd’s killing
Despite the now-discovered trove of video evidence, police initially did not view many of the security tapes that now link Hernandez to the crime, in large part because they had no reason to suspect his involvement in the shooting.
Their investigation focused on locating the silver or gray SUV with Rhode Island plates — a task that proved elusive. Eventually, the case went cold.
Hernandez went about his playing career, making the 2012-13 season one of his best since joining the NFL. He tallied 51 receptions for five touchdowns in just 10 games and pocketed nearly $10 million in salary and bonuses.
At some point during early 2013, Hernandez befriended Odin Lloyd, a 27-year-old member of the Boston Bandits, an amateur football squad.
Lloyd was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee, and the NFL player would occasionally bring Lloyd with him to clubs and parties and rent cars for the amateur athlete, who still lived in his parents’ modest home in a rough part of town.
In June 2013, Hernandez and Lloyd partied at Rumor nightclub in Boston and, according to prosecutors, Hernandez became upset with Lloyd for either talking to people who the NFL player did not like or discussing something that Hernandez did not want discussed.
Days later, Hernandez texted two friends — Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace — beckoning them to drive to Boston from their home in Connecticut. Minutes later, he texted Lloyd, telling him that he wanted to meet up.
Just after 1 a.m., Hernandez, Wallace and Ortiz left the NFL player’s home and drove to pick up Lloyd. At 2:32 a.m., they arrived at Lloyd’s home.
An hour later, the Nissan Altima being driven by Hernandez and carrying the other three men pulled into an industrial park near Hernandez’s home.
It was around that time that Lloyd sent series of text messages to his sister.
“Did you see who I am with?” Lloyd wrote after 3 a.m., minutes later offering the answer: “NFL.” And then following up with a final text: “Just so you know.”
Prosecutors allege that after the car pulled into the industrial park, Lloyd was shot three times while he attempted to get out of the vehicle. With bullet wounds in his arm, forearm and back, Lloyd lay on the ground. Then, prosecutors have said in court, someone stood over Lloyd and fired twice into his chest, execution-style.
Video from Hernandez’s home shows the former player entering his house minutes later, carrying a gun believed to be the murder weapon. That gun has not been recovered.
Days later, Hernandez was led out of his home in handcuffs and was charged later that day with first-degree murder.
Hernandez’s arrest caused a media storm, with national and international outlets descending on a small courtroom about an hour south of Boston to watch the former star’s arraignment.
In the days that followed, the Patriots cut Hernandez from the roster and scrubbed his name from the team Web site. Soon, Wallace, Ortiz and Hernandez’s fiancee and one of his cousins were also in custody, facing charges related to Lloyd’s killing.
A tip, a car and a gun
On June 22, four days before Hernandez was charged in Lloyd’s killing, Boston police received a call from an anonymous tipster who said that he had information about both the Lloyd slaying and the unsolved July 2012 murders.
The man, who later identified himself to police as a security supervisor at Rumor Nightclub — where Lloyd had partied with Hernandez two nights before his death — told police that the Lloyd killing was directly linked to the unsolved 2012 double murder.
Asked how he knew this, the nightclub security supervisor replied:
“Someone accidentally spilled the beans in front of me.”
Law enforcement officials have since told the Boston Globe that police are looking into whether Lloyd had information about the double murder and if the motive for his killing was that he had publicly discussed that crime, angering Hernandez.
After receiving that tip, the long-dormant investigation into the double killing was awakened.
Police reanalyzed security footage from that night, and came to the conclusion that Hernandez was driving a vehicle that matched the description of the vehicle involved in the drive-by.
Days later, that vehicle and a backpack containing clothing Hernandez wore on the night of the shooting were recovered from a Connecticut home owned by his uncle.
“Gunshot residue may still exist in the vehicle, since there is reason to believe that the vehicle has remained untouched and stored in an enclosed garage for close to a year,” investigators wrote in a search warrant affidavit.
Police say they have also recovered the gun used in the 2012 killings, which they said was discovered during a seemingly random incident in which they were conducting an inventory of a car that was involved in a crash.
The new charges against Hernandez drastically complicate his legal proceedings. He remains in pre-trial status in the Lloyd killing, and his attorneys could request more time or a delay in the proceedings now that they must contended with a second murder trial.
Hernandez’s attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Because the crimes were committed in different counties, the trials cannot be combined, and Boston prosecutors said Thursday that they will be cautious to not release information that would compromise pending action in the Odin Lloyd case.
“The pending case in Bristol County … would be tried before this second case,” Gerry Leone, a former Boston-area district attorney, during an interview with Fox-25 Boston on Thursday morning. “However, if prosecutors are able to link a strong and solid motive in the prior murder, in 2012, to the Odin Lloyd murder, you could have evidence of the prior murder being utilized during the course of the trial in the Odin Lloyd murder.”
Meanwhile, Wallace and Ortiz are both in custody as well, awaiting trial on charges that they were accessories to Lloyd’s killing. Hernandez’s fiancee also faces charges that she lied to a grand jury about her involvement.