They will not say why they want it, but investigators remain keenly interested in finding a side mirror from the Nissan Altima believed driven by former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez on the day prosecutors said he allegedly orchestrated the killing of Dorchester resident Odin Lloyd.
Police have been searching for the mirror since the early days of the investigation, after Lloyd was shot to death early on the morning of June 17 in an industrial park near Hernandez’s North Attleborough home.
Authorities have renewed their plea for the public’s help in finding the mirror, which “may be found in a wooded or secluded area, somewhere close to the route from Fayston Street in Boston down [Interstate] 95, to Ronald C. Meyer Drive in North Attleborough,” the street on which Hernandez lived, North Attleborough police and the Bristol district attorney’s office said in a statement.
Former Middlesex district attorney Gerard T. Leone, who is not involved in the case but has vast experience as a prosecutor, said recovering the mirror could help investigators establish the path of the car the night of the slaying. Police may also believe the mirror contains blood or other evidence of the crime. Finding the mirror could also help authorities test the veracity of a witness who may claim to have information about what happened on the drive the night Lloyd was killed, he said.
Hernandez has been charged with murder. Two of his associates, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, also face charges in connection with the investigation.
Authorities say they have recovered videotape from several security cameras that show Hernandez, Wallace, and Ortiz picking up Lloyd at his home on Fayston Street in the Nissan early in the morning on the day Lloyd was killed, and then later driving into the industrial park where Lloyd’s body was discovered.
Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to all charges and is being held without bail at the Bristol County Jail. Wallace is in custody and expected to be in Attleboro District Court this week to face an accessory after murder charge. Ortiz has pleaded not guilty to unlawful carrying of a firearm and is behind bars pending a hearing July 9.
In addition to Lloyd’s slaying, Hernandez is being investigated for a July 2012 double homicide in Boston’s South End in which two men died in a drive-by shooting, law enforcement officials have told the Globe.
Police in Bristol, Conn., confirmed Tuesday that they have assisted Massachusetts investigators execute three search warrants in relation to the ongoing investigations surrounding Hernandez.
Bristol police assisted in the search of a home at 114 Lake Ave., and the search and seizure of the silver Chrysler 300, which North Attleborough police believe to be linked to Lloyd’s death, said Lieutenant Kevin Morrell.
The department also assisted with an additional search warrant and vehicle seizure at the behest of Boston police. That search also occurred at 114 Lake Ave. Police seized a silver Toyota sport utility vehicle, Morrell said.
With Hernandez the focus of the intense investigation, new details continue to be revealed about his past run-ins with the law.
Gainesville, Fla., police confirmed Tuesday that Hernandez was involved in an altercation at The Swamp, a restaurant near the University of Florida, when he was a student and football player. He allegedly punched a restaurant employee in the head and burst his eardrum. The incident, reported Monday by the Wall Street Journal, occurred in 2007.
According to the police incident report provided to the Globe by the Orlando Sentinel, Hernandez and then-University of Florida teammate Tim Tebow, recently signed by the Patriots, were at the restaurant with a friend of Tebow’s.
Hernandez, then 17, and a restaurant employee, Michael Taphorn, got into a dispute about a bill, and Hernandez was told to leave.
Tebow and the second witness both told police that Taphorn was “being irrational” and “getting in Hernandez’s face.”
Taphorn told police he escorted Hernandez out, and then as he turned to go back inside the football player punched him in the head and then fled.
“Tebow said he stepped in to try to keep [Hernandez] from getting in trouble, since he is a football player, and the victim knew he was a player,” the police report states, adding that Tebow was concerned his name would be reported in the media for having been there for the incident.
The officers “assured him that we would not contact the media,” the report states.
Taphorn did not respond Tuesday to requests for comment.
The officer who interviewed Hernandez wrote that “he and Tebow both said they had already called coach Urban Meyer and advised him of their involvement in the incident.” Meyer at the time was head coach of the Florida football team.
Police recommended that Hernandez be charged with felony battery, but it is unclear how the case was resolved.
Gainesville police have also confirmed that they questioned Hernandez in relation to a 2007 shooting that occurred on a night Florida lost to Auburn. Corey Smith, 28, and Justin Glass, 19, were driving around 2:30 a.m. when someone opened fire, injuring them both.
That shooting remains unsolved.
And Hernandez is being sued in federal court in Florida by a Connecticut man, Alexander Bradley, who alleges that Hernandez shot him in the face in February after an argument at a Miami strip club.
Bradley says two other friends of Hernandez were present at the time of the shooting, but his lawsuit does not identify them. Bradley’s lawyer declined to name the alleged witnesses but said they were not Wallace and Ortiz, the men charged in connection to the investigation into Lloyd’s death.
Hernandez had not yet filed a response to Bradley’s lawsuit Tuesday; court papers show he was served with the complaint June 28, in the Bristol County House of Correction.
A search of University of Florida Police Department records yielded one incident involving Hernandez, in which he was one of five players who had money and property stolen from the football locker room.
Hernandez reported having $200 stolen from a pair of pants he had left in the locker room in September 2008.
After an investigation, police arrested Robert Lee McCoy, 53, of Gainesville, and he was ordered to pay Hernandez restitution.