NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH — In a day filled with rumor and anticipation, New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez huddled with his lawyers in Boston Friday, while investigators remained tight-lipped about the homicide investigation that has embroiled the football star.
Reporters stood vigil outside Hernandez’s North Attleborough home and at a local courthouse, on speculation that investigators were poised to take action against him.
The stakeouts by reporters and photographers extended to Dorchester, where the anguished family of a 27-year-old man gunned downed Monday near Hernandez’s home demanded justice.
Hernandez’s entanglement in the ongoing investigation cost him a corporate sponsorship Friday, as a nutritional company terminated the player’s endorsement contract.
No charges have been announced against Hernandez, or anyone else, in the shooting death of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd, an acquaintance of Hernandez’s found slain Monday in an industrial park near the player’s home in North Attleborough.
The star tight end remains under intense public scrutiny. He has not commented on reports that police have recovered video apparently showing him and Lloyd together in Boston early Monday morning, hours before Lloyd was found dead in the industrial park, about a mile from Hernandez’s home.
Hernandez spent Thursday night at the Sheraton Hotel, which is connected to the Prudential Center in Boston, where his lawyer’s firm, Ropes and Gray, is located.
He was at the office of his lawyer, Michael Fee, most of Friday, wearing the same clothes he had on the day before, a black sweatshirt with the slogan “Athletes First” and a black ski cap that read “Muscle Milk.”
He returned to his home on Ronald C. Meyer Drive around 4:40 p.m., got out of a sport utility vehicle driven by Fee, and looked at the three dozen reporters and camera crews staking out the house before going inside. A third man arrived in a convertible directly behind him.
Fee and the third man left in the convertible just before 5 p.m. Hernandez did not reappear the rest of the day.
The maker of Muscle Milk, CytoSport, dropped Hernandez Friday as a celebrity endorser of the nutritional supplement.
“In light of the investigation involving Aaron Hernandez, CytoSport is terminating its endorsement contract with Mr. Hernandez, effective immediately,” the company said in a statement.
Last July, CytoSport announced it had signed Hernandez to an “exclusive partnership,” and lauded the player’s “dedication to being the best on and off the gridiron.”
On Tuesday, investigators searched Hernandez’s house. Attleboro District Court Clerk Magistrate Mark Sturdy said Friday that three search warrants had been obtained by police investigating Lloyd’s death, but police have not filed the paperwork reporting what, if anything, they have seized.
The search warrant documents are sealed, said Sturdy, who would not say what locations police were authorized to search under the warrants. Police have at least seven days after the search is conducted to file what is known as the search warrant return with the court.
On Friday afternoon, reporters staking out Hernandez’s house watched a car with the Connecticut license plates HERNDZ emerge from the garage and drive away. Two women were in the front seat, and a third person wearing a hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses obscuring his or her face sat in the rear seat.
Around noon, two state troopers walked up to the front door and, after knocking, were let inside by a woman. The troopers stayed for a few minutes and then left without speaking to reporters.
Dozens of reporters and onlookers continued to crowd the empty lot across from Hernandez’s home into the evening Friday, looking for a glimpse of the New England Patriots player.
At 7:27 p.m. two women walked out of the garage and left in the SUV Hernandez had arrived in earlier in the day. They returned at 7:50 p.m. and brought in bags from the SUV and another car parked in the driveway.
Shades inside the home remained drawn and four UPS boxes delivered earlier in the evening sat idle in the driveway.
Packed cars paused as they passed the house, snapping photos with iPhones and waving to television cameras.
Nearby, at the industrial park where Lloyd’s body was found Monday evening, state and local police kept watch over the crime scene.
Law enforcement officials have told the Globe that Lloyd was shot several times and was probably killed where the body was found.
In Dorchester, Lloyd’s sister said she hopes media attention on the case will lead to a resolution. “We’re glad this involves such a big celebrity,” Olivia Thibow told reporters outside the family’s home Friday. “At least we know something will happen from it.”
Lloyd’s mother, Ursula Ward, and other relatives, including Thibow, spoke briefly outside their Fayston Street home Friday afternoon, after arranging funeral services.
Lloyd’s uncle, who would identify himself only by the first name of Ed, said the connection to a professional athlete was not important to him; what matters is seeing someone prosecuted for killing his nephew.
“I don’t care who he is, or what he has, if it is him,” Ed said about Hernandez. “I just want justice.”
In Hernandez’s hometown of Bristol, Conn., several friends who knew him from high school declined to discuss the investigation, noting only that they are torn as to what to believe.
“Until someone tells me for sure that he did anything involved with this, I’m holding out hope that all is well and will end well [for him],” said one friend, who asked not to be named.
Hernandez, a standout football recruit from an early age, is well known in much of his hometown, a small, hilly community best known as the home of ESPN’s headquarters.
Attempts to reach Hernandez’s family were unsuccessful. The driveway in front of the home at the Bristol address listed for Hernandez’s mother sat empty on Friday.
No one answered the door and the day’s edition of the Hartford Courant, which splashed the latest on the homicide investigation across the front page, sat untouched on the property.
Neighbors refused to discuss the case.
“They’re back outside in the driveway,” a woman next door said loudly into her cellphone when a local television crew arrived. When the reporters approached to speak to her, she slammed her door in their faces.
At Hernandez’s alma mater, Bristol Central High, several local football players worked out on the football field for much of Friday afternoon. They declined to discuss the case, but marveled at its gravity.
“Of course we know of him, that dude’s a legend,” said one player. “This is just . . . crazy. This whole thing.”