NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH—State and local police descended on the upscale home of New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez on Tuesday night, one day after a body was found in an industrial yard in town.
North Attleborough police stood guard on either side of Hernandez’s home as troopers passed in and out of the residence and a crowd of onlookers and media milled outside.
SI.com, citing unnamed sources, reported Tuesday that Hernandez was not believed to be a suspect in the person’s death. But State Police had spoken with him in connection with an investigation into the discovery of the body on Monday night, according to the report.
The Sports Illustrated report also said troopers wanted to search Hernandez’s home and that a rental car linked to the football player is tied to the death.
A State Police spokesman could not confirm on Tuesday that troopers had questioned Hernandez.
Shortly before 7 Tuesday night, two men got into a white, four-door sedan parked in Hernandez’s driveway and tried to drive out, but they were prevented from leaving by state troopers. The men exited the white sedan and spoke briefly with authorities before getting into separate cruisers that drove off. Troopers later searched the sedan in the driveway.
Also at the scene, troopers escorted a young woman into Hernandez’s sprawling home on Ronald C. Meyer Drive at about 7:35 p.m., and additional State Police personnel were visible inside the three-story, gray house adorned with columns at the front entrance.
State Police could also be seen taking pictures inside, and a man who resembled Hernandez peered out the glass panes of the front door just before 9 p.m. One trooper who left the house just after 9:30 was carrying a box.
Bristol District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter’s office released no new details on Tuesday of the death investigation, and a spokeswoman would not say whether officials suspected foul play or confirm media reports that the deceased was a 27-year-old Boston man.
Sutter’s office said previously that the body was found in an industrial park at about 5:30 p.m. on Monday.
The district attorney did not identify the precise location of the park, but Erik Dahl, a neighbor, said that he saw police at an industrial yard about a quarter-mile from Ronald C. Meyer Drive when he was driving home at about 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
“There were cops with metal detectors on both sides of the road—it’s a main road, everybody uses it,” Dahl said.
He described the area as quiet and family friendly. During Halloween, he said, many children flock to the neighborhood and try to figure out which houses belong to the Patriots players that live in the area.
Hernandez, 23, was the Patriots’ fourth-round pick in 2010 and is currently rehabbing from shoulder surgery. He has become one of the team’s top offensive stars, catching 18 touchdown passes in three seasons.
The Patriots, Hernandez’s agent, the Bristol district attorney’s office, and local police all declined to comment Tuesday on Hernandez and the investigation.
“I am aware of the reports, but I do not anticipate that we will be commenting publicly during an ongoing police investigation,” said team spokesman Stacey James in a statement.
Hernandez has had prior off-field issues during his playing career.
NFL team sources told the Globe in 2010 that Hernandez, who played at Florida, slipped to the fourth round in the draft because of multiple failed drug tests for marijuana as a collegian.
He told teams at the NFL Scouting Combine that his drug use stemmed from the 2006 death of his father, Dennis, who died of complications following hernia surgery while Hernandez was a junior at Bristol (Conn.) Central High.
“Depending on who you talk to, some people thought he was a late first- or early second-round prospect. Eventually, the risk was overcome by the value,” one pro scout told the Globe at the time.