By: Kent Pierce, News 8 Reporter
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – The murders, the trials, they happened in Massachusetts, but the Aaron Hernandez story was very much a Connecticut story.
His athletic gifts made him a star in Bristol. In 2006, he was featured on News 8 as the top high school tight end in the country.
Hernandez snubbed UConn to go to the University of Florida, but his hometown forgave him when he signed a 5 year, $40 million contract with the New England Patriots. He made the trip from Foxborough back to Bristol frequently.
Hernandez’s fiancee Shayanna Jenkins had a sister, Shaneah, in Connecticut. Sheneah was dating a semi pro linebacker named Odin Lloyd. Lloyd started hanging out with Hernandez. On the night of June 17, 2013, Hernandez was with two friends from Connecticut when he shot Lloyd dead in Massachusetts.
Carlos Ortiz, of Bristol, pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact. Ernest Wallace went to trial and was found guilty of that same charge.
Less than two weeks after Lloyd’s murder, police seized evidence from the Bristol home of Hernandez’s uncle Andres Valderrama. Two days later, Valderrama’s car ended up crashing into the Farmington Country club. He wasn’t in it. The driver was Thaddeus Singleton the third, and there were reports police wanted to question him about Lloyd’s murder. He died in the crash.
In the passenger seat was a woman named Tabitha Perry. She survived the crash, but was found dead five months later in a friend’s house in Southington.
A month after the Farmington crash, police were searching a Bristol lake, hoping to find the gun used to kill Odin Lloyd. They never found it. That same weekend, another one of Hernandez’s uncles was killed in a moped crash.
Nothing ever led police to think foul play was involved in any of those deaths. Hernandez himself was pronounced dead just after 4 Wednesday morning at a hospital in Leominster, Masachusetts.