Five days after his suicide in a Massachusetts prison, an invitation-only funeral is taking place for Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots tight end who was serving a life sentence for murder, in Bristol, Conn., where he grew up.
The service will be held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Monday at O’Brien Funeral Home in Bristol, according to a statement given to the Boston Globe by the Connecticut Funeral Directors Association. His body, a family spokeswoman said, will be cremated. Among those who arrived early were Hernandez’s mother and his brother. They were followed by Hernandez’s fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez, who legally added his name, and 4-year-old daughter, Avielle.
Hernandez, who was serving a life sentence without parole for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, was found hanging by a bedsheet in his cell in the maximum-security Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Mass., early last Wednesday morning and the medical examiner ruled the cause of death was suicide. Only five days earlier, Hernandez had been acquitted in the 2012 double murder of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado.
Jose Baez, who led the defense in the double-murder trial, has called for an investigation into the circumstances of Hernandez’s death. The details of three handwritten notes found near a Bible in his cell have not been revealed and Hernandez reportedly had written the John 3:16 Bible verse on his forehead. On Friday, a judge granted a request from Hernandez’s fiancee to preserve evidence collected in his cell.
Hernandez’s body was released to the family Thursday and his brain was donated to the Boston University Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center to be examined for signs of the degenerative nerve disease caused by severe and repetitive hits to the head. His remains were taken to the Bristol funeral home early Saturday afternoon, the Globe reported.