Hernandez home subject of intense police search
5th day of investigation ends without arrests
NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH — As many as 20 law enforcement officers, police dogs, and a locksmith descended on the home of New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez on Saturday afternoon, conducting a nearly four-hour search of the property and leaving with bags of possible evidence.
The search, which included local and State Police, came after days of investigation into what role, if any, Hernandez played in the slaying of his acquaintance Odin Lloyd, whose bullet-ridden body was found in a nearby industrial park Monday evening.
What had been a dull scene of staked-out media members began bustling with activity about 1:45 p.m. Saturday when multiple uniformed and plainclothes officers parked in the driveway and entered the home.
Officers guided two dogs throughout the sprawling home and backyard. Hernandez’s white sport utility vehicle was searched. North Attleborough police directed traffic around the scene, as neighbors gathered to watch with a pack of reporters that has been outside the star tight end’s home for days.
About an hour into the search, police carried a pry bar into the house. A short time later, a local locksmith arrived at the scene, and was directed inside by the police. He stayed only minutes before leaving, giving no indication of what he had been summoned to open, or whether he was successful.
Police emerged from the house around 5:25 p.m. carrying about a half-dozen brown paper bags of possible evidence that they loaded into one of their vehicles before driving away.
Spokesmen for State Police and for the Bristol district attorney’s office each declined to comment on the activity at Hernandez’s home, including whether a search warrant had been executed.
Hernandez’s lawyer, Michael Fee, who arrived at the house about two hours after police, remained in the house after the officers departed for a brief time.
The Bristol district attorney’s office has declined to comment on the current status of the investigation but repeated on Saturday that any major development in the case — including a warrant, arrest, or charges — would be publicly announced.
This was the second major search of the player’s home, after an initial search Tuesday. Attleboro District Court Clerk Magistrate Mark Sturdy said Friday that three search warrants had been obtained by police investigating Lloyd’s death, but they have not filed the paperwork reporting what, if anything, they have seized.
The owner of Club Desire, a strip club in Providence, confirmed that the club was searched last week by law enforcement in connection with the investigation, but he declined to elaborate on the nature of the search.
“Yeah, they came here,” said Gerard DiSanto, the strip club’s owner, when reached by phone by the Globe Saturday afternoon. He declined to comment further.
The Patriots star, who remains under intense public scrutiny, 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.
In Dorchester, at Lloyd’s home on Fayston Street, his mother, Ursula Ward, said her son’s funeral will be held Saturday morning at the Church of the Holy Spirit of Mattapan. She asked for privacy as her family grieves.
Lloyd, 27, was a semi-pro linebacker for the local Boston Bandits football team.
Hernandez spent Thursday night at the Sheraton Hotel, which is connected to the Prudential Center in Boston, where the firm Fee works for, Ropes and Gray, is located. He met with Fee Friday and returned home around 4:40 p.m. with the lawyer and one other man. He has not been seen outside since.
Media members have maintained a lengthy vigil over the past week, with cameras perpetually pointed in the direction of the house on Ronald C. Meyer Drive for any sign of the Patriots player.
Shortly before 10 a.m. Saturday, a news helicopter appeared. Cars continued to pass by the house in Westwood Estates, a neighborhood home to several other current and former New England Patriots players, to check out the scene and take photos on their cellphones.
Around lunchtime, a young woman came out of the house, retrieved some papers from a car in the driveway and brought them back into the house. A little while later she left in a silver Nissan with another woman, and returned soon after.
Shortly after 7 Saturday night, Hernandez approached the door and looked out at the crowd of reporters and curious onlookers.
Then he walked away.
Globe correspondents Nikita Lalwani, Javier Panzar, and Gal Tziperman Lotan contributed to this report. Wesley Lowery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @WesleyLowery. Juliet Pennington can be reached email@example.com. Mark Arsenault can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter@bostonglobemark.