The death of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez was ruled a suicide on Thursday.
A joint statement by Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr., Col. Richard McKeon, superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, and Secretary of Public Safety Daniel Bennett said Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Henry N. Nields had performed an autopsy on Hernandez Wednesday, hours after the former tight end was found hanging in his cell.
Nields “concluded … that the manner of death was suicide and the cause asphyxia by hanging,” the statement said.
“There were no signs of a struggle, and investigators determined that Mr. Hernandez was alone at the time of the hanging,” the statement added.
Investigators found ” three hand-written notes next to a Bible in the cell,” the statement said. The content of the notes was not revealed.
Multiple media account have said the words “John 3:16” were written on Hernandez’s forehead when he was found. The official statement did not address those reports.
The statement said that investigators found “cardboard jammed into the door tracks of his single-inmate cell to impede entry into the cell.”
The statement said Hernandez was the last one in the cell at 8 p.m. Tuesday and that the cell was not opened until 3:03 a.m. Wednesday when Hernandez was found.
WBZ in Boston reported that investigators are considering the possibility that Hernandez could have smoked synthetic marijuana called K2 Tuesday night.
Also on Tuesday, Hernandez, 27, spoke by phone with Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez, his fiancé and the mother of his 4-year-old daughter, said Ronald Sullivan, one of Hernandez’s lawyers.
“She spoke to him until telephone hours were over at about 8,” Sullivan wrote in e-mail Thursday.
As the investigation into Hernandez’s suicide continues, Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker said, “Look, any time anybody kills themselves in a prison, something clearly went wrong.”
There was brief controversy Thursday when officials initially indicated they would not accede to the wishes of Hernandez’s family and donate the former player’s brain to the Boston University CTE Center. CTE stands for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a type of brain injury found in athletes who participate in contact sports.
Dan Bennett, Massachusetts’ secretary for public safety and security, later said the issue had been resolved.
“The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is conducting an investigation into the circumstances of Aaron Hernandez’s death, which may require further analysis of his body. Once that is complete, the brain will be released to Boston University. No one is going to stand in the way of the family’s wishes for Boston University to have Aaron Hernandez’s brain,” Bennett said in a statement.