As previously reported, Aaron Hernandez is dead.
The former New England Patriots tight end was found hanging from a bed sheet very early Wednesday morning, seemingly the victim of a suicide.
Not so fast, people close to him insist.
At 27 years old, Hernandez was in jail for life, without the possibility of parole, after his 2015 conviction on first-degree murder charges.
A few hours after Hernandez was discovered in his cell and then pronounced dead at a nearby hospital, officials confirmed his demise.
The Massachusetts Department of Corrections released the following statement:
On April 19, 2017 Aaron Hernandez was discovered hanged in his cell by corrections officers at the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley Massachusetts at approximately 3:05 a.m.
Lifesaving techniques were attempted on Mr. Hernandez and he was transported to UMASS Leominster where he was pronounced dead at 4:07 a.m. by a physician at the hospital.
Mr. Hernandez was in a single cell in a general population housing. Mr. Hernandez hanged himself utilizing a bed sheet that he attached to his cell window.
Mr. Hernandez also attempted to block his door from the inside by jamming the door with various items.
The Massachusetts State Police are on scene and the investigation continues. Mr. Hernandez’s next of kin have been notified.
Just a few days ago, Hernandez was acquitted in a separate double murder case, stemming from an incident in 2012 in which he was the passenger in an alleged drive-by shooting.
Cameras caught the disgraced athlete blowing a kiss to his four-year old daughter in the courtroom at one point.
Based on this statement and the apparent evidence inside Hernandez’s jail cell, this tragic case appears to be open and shut.
He clearly killed himself, right?
Not according to people close to him. Hernandez’s attorney, Jose Baez, is one high-profile figure who disputes that conclusion.
Having represented Hernandez in the aforementioned double murder trial, the attorney (who also represented Casey Anthony) issued his own statement.
Baez responded to this development by saying the ex-tight end’s family and legal team were "shocked and surprised at the news of Aaron’s death."
He had previously claimed he could get Hernandez’s original murder conviction overturned, and added that he finds it hard to believe Hernandez would take his own life.
Baez continued in the statement:
"There were no conversations or correspondence from Aaron to his family or legal team that would have indicated anything like this was possible."
"Aaron was looking forward to an opportunity for a second chance to prove his innocence.
"We request that authorities conduct a transparent and thorough investigation."
As cited in the Department of Corrections statement, this had already been the plan.
But Baez is ready to open his own investigation as well, telling TMZ that Hernandez might have been murdered either "by inmates or the folks who run the prison."
And he isn’t alone in this belief.
Hernandez’s former agent, Brian Murphy, tweeted the following after learning Hernandez was dead.
"Absolutely no chance he took his own life. Chico was not a saint, but my family and I loved him and he would never take his own life."
Also via Twitter, ESPN writer Josina Anderson has posted two message that reads:
Another former teammate of Aaron Hernandez I spoke with this am having a hard time believing he took his own life: "I am not buying it."
That former Pats teammate added: "I’ll never believe (Aaron Hernandez) went out that way. Yes he has emotions, but he’s not wired like that."
We’re guessing more information comes out about the alleged Aaron Hernandez suicide in the coming days and weeks.
We very much understand how difficult it can be to accept that someone you knew well could take his or her own life.
But the only other possibility here is a rather drawn-out, elaborate conspiracy that involves killing someone already sentenced to prison until the day he dies.
We’ll update this story with more news as it develops.