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Search for gun turns to Hernandez’s fiancée

Police scrutinize actions of two after shooting

Shayanna Jenkins

AP/File

Shayanna Jenkins is the fiancée of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.

Law enforcement officials are investigating whether two women who have been among Aaron Hernandez’s biggest supporters, his fiancée and a close family friend, helped the former Patriots tight end cover up evidence and hide witnesses that could link him to the June 17 slaying of Odin Lloyd, newly released court documents show.

Documents submitted by police to obtain a search warrant suggest that on the day after Lloyd was fatally shot near Hernandez’s North Attleborough mansion, Hernandez, in a telephone call and text message, directed his fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins, to “get rid of” firearms he allegedly tucked away in the basement.

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Surveillance video footage from the home monitoring system shows Jenkins carrying a large, heavy object consistent with the shape of a lock box or safe from the basement to a car, leaving Hernandez’s home at 22 Ronald C. Meyer Drive and driving toward Landry Avenue. She returned 35 minutes later without the large object.

Those details were contained in search warrant applications released Friday by a judge in Bristol, Conn., and provided to the Globe Monday by the Hartford Courant.

Police have not found the .45-caliber weapon used to kill Lloyd, but on June 19 they did find a .22-caliber handgun along Landry Avenue. Police said the weapon appeared to have been “recently discarded.”

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Prosecutors say Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace, two men who also have been charged in connection with Lloyd’s death, handled a .22-caliber handgun on the night of the shooting, while Hernandez carried the larger .45-caliber weapon.

According to the documents, police searched a storage unit in Bristol, Conn., that was rented under Jenkins’s name but paid for with a credit card in Hernandez’s name. Authorities were led to the US Storage Center facility on Mountain Road after they scoured Hernandez’s financial records and discovered a receipt for the unit.

Jenkins has not been arrested, but Tanya Cummings-Singleton, a close friend of Hernandez, has been jailed since Aug. 1 for not responding to a subpoena to testify in front of a grand jury investigating the homicide.

On July 24, as Cummings-Singleton walked out of Attleboro District Court following a probable cause hearing for Hernandez, Massachusetts state troopers presented her with a search warrant and then seized her cellphone and several credit cards.

According to the documents released Friday, Cummings-
Singleton paid for a bus ticket for Wallace from Macon, Ga., to Florida a week after the killing. Wallace, 41, has been charged as an accessory after the fact to murder and remains in jail on $500,000 cash bail.

Investigators “believe that Aaron Hernandez, Tanya Singleton, Shayanna Jenkins, and Ernest Wallace have all made overt attempts to hide evidence, render assistance for suspect to elude law enforcement, and to hinder and mislead this investigation,” stated two veteran detectives with the Bristol Police Department, seeking a judge’s permission to search the storage unit.

But prosecutors said it is too soon to say who else could face criminal charges in Lloyd’s shooting death.

“Our investigation is clearly ongoing and very active, and to speculate whether anyone else being potentially charged in this case would be premature,” said Gregg Miliote, spokesman for the Bristol County district attorney’s office in Massachusetts.

Hernandez, held without bail, faces a probable cause hearing on a first-degree murder charge on Aug. 22. Ortiz, who was charged with firearm possession offenses, is also being held without bail and is scheduled for a pretrial hearing Wednesday. Prosecutors say Hernandez, Wallace, and Ortiz drove with Lloyd on June 17 in a rented Nissan Altima to the industrial park where Lloyd was fatally shot.

Much of the prosecution’s case is drawn from statements made by Ortiz to investigators. The 27-year-old unemployed father of three allegedly told police that during the drive, Hernandez told Lloyd that Lloyd had been ‘‘chilling’’ with people Hernandez had problems with. But Ortiz told police the two men shook hands and the problem seemed smoothed over. However, the Altima soon stopped, and everyone but Ortiz got out to urinate, according to Ortiz’s account.

The witness told police he then heard gunshots before Hernandez and Wallace got back into the car without Lloyd and the car sped away.

Ortiz said he could not see who fired the shots because it was dark. Back at Hernandez’s home, Ortiz said, Wallace asked him to get the .22 out from under the driver’s seat. Ortiz said he did and gave it to Hernandez once they were inside. Ortiz said Hernandez put the weapon in a black box in the basement.

Hernandez is also the focus of a Suffolk County grand jury investigating whether he played a role in a 2012 double homicide in the South End. Law enforcement officials have told the Globe that investigators believe Hernandez drove Lloyd to the industrial park and then shot him because he was worried Lloyd had information about the double homicide and might talk.

Brian Ballou can be reached at bballou@globe.com or on Twitter at @globeballou. 
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