Former New England Patriots football star Aaron Hernandez was found dead in his cell in an apparent suicide on Wednesday with the words "John 3:16" written on his forehead, prison officials said.
Hernandez, who was serving a life sentence at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center for the 2013 murder of his acquaintance, Odin Lloyd, was found hanged in his cell on Wednesday at around 3:05 a.m. Other markings were also found on Hernandez's hands and feet.
According to a statement released by Christopher Fallon, the Assistant Deputy Commissioner of Communications of the Massachusetts Department of Correction, the 27-year-old former football star hanged himself using a bed sheet that he attached to his cell window. He also tried to block the entrance to his cell from the inside by jamming the door with various items.
The authorities are looking into the possibility that Hernandez smoked synthetic marijuana the night before he killed himself.
An unnamed source told the Daily Mail that Hernandez had been planning his suicide for weeks and that he had given away most of his personal belongings to fellow inmates.
The former football star also covered the floor or the cell in soap so he would slip around and not be able to save himself in case he lost his nerve, according to the source.
His death came less than a week after he was acquitted of the murder of two men outside a Boston nightclub in 2012.
Hernandez reportedly had several fights with other inmates, but he has never attempted suicide. Hernandez's attorney, Jose Baez, stated that he and the family believe that the former football star was murdered.
"There were no conversations or correspondence from Aaron to his family or legal team that would have indicated anything like this was possible," said Baez. "Aaron was looking forward to an opportunity for a second chance to prove his innocence," he added.
Investigators officially declared his death a suicide after they discovered three handwritten notes next to a Bible opened to John 3:16.
"Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Henry N. Nields performed an autopsy on Mr. Hernandez on Wednesday and concluded today that the manner of death was suicide and the cause asphyxia by hanging," Massachusetts District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr. said in a statement on Thursday.
"There were no signs of a struggle, and investigators determined that Mr. Hernandez was alone at the time of the hanging," the report added.