The state medical examiner identified the man as 27-year-old Odin Lloyd and ruled he was a homicide victim, Bristol District Attorney Samuel Sutter’s office said. Lloyd’s family said he was a semi-pro football player with a connection to Hernandez, whose home was searched by police.
Lloyd’s mother, Ursula Ward, had said earlier police had told her the body was that of her son, who played for the Boston Bandits.
“My son is a wonderful child,” she said, crying as she spoke outside the family’s home in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood. “He’s a family guy. He hasn’t done anything to hurt anyone.”
State police returned for the second day Wednesday to Hernandez’s sprawling home in an upscale subdivision in North Attleborough, on the Rhode Island state line not far from the Patriots‘ stadium in Foxborough. They referred questions about their investigation to Sutter, the district attorney.
Sutter’s office said investigators were asking for the public’s help to find a silver mirror cover believed to have broken off a car between Boston and North Attleborough.
Sports Illustrated, citing an unidentified source, reported Tuesday that Hernandez was not believed to be a suspect in what was being treated then as a possible homicide.
Two troopers knocked on the door of Hernandez’s house Wednesday morning, but no one answered. The night before, police spent hours there as another group of officers searched the industrial park.
Later Wednesday, at least seven state troopers searched both sides of a road just off the street where Hernandez lives. The officers used thin poles to pull back plants and search through undergrowth along the road.
Hernandez returned home during the early afternoon Wednesday. He did not speak to a crowd of reporters staked out about 100 feet away.
The Patriots drafted Hernandez out of Florida in 2010. Since then, he has combined with Rob Gronkowski to form one of the top tight end duos in the NFL. He missed 10 games last season with an ankle injury and had shoulder surgery in April but is expected to be ready for training camp. Last summer, the Patriots gave him a five-year contract worth $40 million.
Patriots spokesman Stacey James said the team did not anticipate commenting publicly during the police investigation.
Sports Illustrated reported that the link between Hernandez and the case was a rented Chevrolet Suburban with Rhode Island plates that police had been searching for. The Associated Press could not independently confirm the report.