Aaron Hernandez, Odin Lloyd's Unlikely Friendship That Allegedly Led to Murder

Former Patriots tight end is charged with murder in Lloyd's death.

July 9, 2013, 12:06 PM

July 24, 2013— -- Aaron Hernandez and Odin Lloyd came from vastly different worlds, unlikely associates who friends said would often hang out and talk football, but when Hernandez was charged with murder in Lloyd's death, one mystery surrounding the case became how their relationship formed and how it all went horribly wrong.

Hernandez, a 23-year-old former New England Patriots tight end, was arrested last month on murder and weapons charges for allegedly killing Lloyd, 27, in what police have termed an execution-style slaying. Hernandez pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Court documents released last month provide a minute-by-minute timeline of what prosecutors say was cold-blooded murder. The documents reveal the first blurry images of Hernandez captured on his own security cameras at his home on the night Lloyd was killed. It showed a record of Hernandez's movements and texts that night -- including one he sent to Lloyd at 10 p.m. saying "ill hit u on the way."

The last text Lloyd sent was to his sister on the night of June 17, telling her he was with Hernandez and saying "just so you know."

Three minutes later, he was dead, police said.

Hernandez and Lloyd came from two contrasting universes. Hernandez had recently signed a new $40 million contract with the New England Patriots, while Lloyd was playing for free as a linebacker with the semi-pro Boston Bandits. Hernandez and his Patriots teammates were cheered by about 70,000 fans at Gillette stadium every weekend, while the Bandits might get 200 to 300 people in the stands at their games.

Friends said Lloyd couldn't afford a car and would bike 20 miles to make it to Bandits games. There were also times, friends said, that the talented linebacker couldn't even afford a uniform and would wear jerseys with other players' names on them.

But according to Lloyd's former football coach, Mike Branch, and other friends, Hernandez and Lloyd had formed an unlikely relationship, united by the women in their lives -- Lloyd dated Shaneah Jenkins, the sister of Hernandez's fiancé Shayanna Jenkins.

But prosecutors said something went wrong, shifting the two men's bond from cordial to fatal.

So did Lloyd lure Hernandez back into the tough world they both grew up in or was it the other way around?

Hernandez was raised in a poor neighborhood in Bristol, Conn., and was just 16 years old when his father died. Football provided an escape.

"Football was something that he really loved and gave him a little bit of a reprieve from maybe some of the everyday challenges of life," said ESPN reporter Mike Reiss. "When he was around football he could forget."

Even in high school, it was clear Hernandez was incredibly talented. Eventually, he was recruited by the University of Florida. A bright future stretched before him, if he could only keep himself in the clear.

"He himself said he had a history of getting in trouble," said ESPN reporter Jeremy Schaap. "When he graduated high school and went off to college, who knows what concerns were in his head, but a lot of times there were opportunities to mix with the wrong kind of people."

Before he played a single game for the Florida Gators, Hernandez's career was almost sidelined forever.

A 2007 Gainesville, Fla., police report, which surfaced three weeks ago, showed Hernandez had an altercation at a Gainesville restaurant called The Swamp. It said the then-college freshman had gotten into a fight with the manager over two drinks Hernandez maintained he hadn't ordered. According to the report, his college teammate Tim Tebow stepped in and offered to pay for the drinks. Instead, according to authorities, Hernandez punched the restaurant manager so hard that his ear drum burst. Hernandez was never charged with assault.

"He could have been kicked off the [University of Florida] team but he wasn't," said former NFL agent Josh Luchs.

Growing up in Boston, Odin Lloyd also excelled at football and was "very talented," according to his high school football coach Mike Branch, but didn't get special treatment.

"Definitely recruited, but he was a class clown type," Branch said. "If [he] put a little more effort into the books, honestly, I think the sky was the limit."

Branch said Lloyd didn't apply himself in school and that he "liked the ladies." He never went to college, Branch said, and drifted into semi-pro football. Lloyd also had odd jobs, including his most recent one as a landscaper.

Lloyd's close friend and Bandits teammate Darryl Hodge said Lloyd never really gave up his dreams of playing in the NFL, but knew he had to find a way to support himself.

"It's more that you become realistic with yourself like, 'hey that dream is a good dream,' but at the end of the day you still have to take care of everyday life," Hodge said. "You still have to wake up and go to your 9 to 5."

Meanwhile at Florida, Hernandez was a shining star on the field with 111 receptions and 12 touchdowns, but off the field there were rumors about the football player's intense behavior.

The Wall Street Journal obtained a copy of one of Hernandez's personality tests, given by a North Carolina scouting service that prepared psychological profiles of players for NFL teams before the Patriots picked Hernandez up in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. It said Hernandez enjoyed "living on the edge of acceptable behavior" and cautioned that he could become "a problem" for his team. It also said Hernandez received the lowest possible score, a 1 out of 10, in the "social maturity" category.

ESPN's Mike Reiss said Hernandez's spotted past "significantly" impacted his NFL draft stock.

"This was a player that most would agree had first round talent, maybe second round talent, [but] slipped to the fourth round because of off-field [behavior]," Reiss said. "There were some questions, whether it was with potential drug use, questions about players, of other people he might have been hanging around at the time. This was a player who came with some more risk."

But in the end, Hernandez was chosen by the New England Patriots, and soon moved in with the beautiful Jenkins, whom he had met in high school. That's how friends say Hernandez and Lloyd met, because Lloyd was dating Jenkins' sister.

"[If] they're dating sisters, you would casually see each other," Hodge said. "If you had a barbeque, had a housewarming, whatever the case may be, your family is having a cookout, you are going to see each other on the pass-me-by. So that's what we thought it was."

No matter how casually it started, and no matter how unlikely, friends say Lloyd and Hernandez hung out even when the women weren't around.

"[Lloyd] would tell me [Hernandez] was a cool guy," Branch said. "I was going to a Patriots game and he started talking saying 'coach, you know I might see you there' and I'm like, 'you ain't going to the game. You're too cheap. If you there, you're going to be tailgating in the parking lot,' and then he said that he was going to the game with Mr. Hernandez."

Branch thinks football might have been the thing that brought the two men together.

"Football guys like to hang together and Odin is a student of the game, he can break down film. He knows the game," he said. "Some guys, even myself, was envious of him. Who doesn't want to hang out with an NFL player."

But police say that somehow this unequal relationship unraveled. On June 14, police say a dispute broke out when Hernandez and Lloyd were together at Rumor, a Boston nightclub. But Branch and Hodge said Lloyd didn't indicate to them that anything was wrong between the two footballers afterwards.

"He had said they went out Friday and they had a good time," Branch said. "He didn't present anything about an argument."

"I don't think he thought that there was anything wrong. I don't think he felt like it was a fight," Hodge said. "Oden was very happy."

Hodge said he was with Lloyd just hours before he was killed on June 17. The last time he saw his teammate, Hodge said, was when he and Lloyd parted ways that evening and Lloyd said he was headed home.

"He had a text from his manager that he had work the next day, so he had to make the decision to go home and he told me, 'alright I'm going to go home and get ready to go to work,'" Hodge said.

Bristol County prosecutors said Lloyd got into a car with Hernandez and another man named Ernest Wallace, 41, late that night, then Lloyd was shot and killed in an industrial park near Hernandez's million-dollar home in North Attleboro, Mass.

"I'm trying to figure why you're leaving your crib at 2:30 in the morning and what you were going to go handle." Hodge said. "What is so important that it couldn't-- I can't figure it out. I'm trying to figure it out."

Hernandez is being held without bail at the Bristol County House of Detention. A probable-cause hearing was scheduled for today, but an Attleboro District Court judge granted the prosecution's request to pospone the hearing until Aug. 22.

Wallace turned himself into police last month in connection with the murder. He pleaded not guilty in a Florida court to an "accessory" to murder charge and a felony weapons charge, and is being held without bail.

Court documents surrounding the Hernandez investigation were unsealed last month by district courts in Massachusetts and Florida. According to court documents obtained by ABC News, Carlos Ortiz, an alleged accomplice who prosecutors say was also with Hernandez during the shooting, implicated the NFL star as the man who shot the five rounds that killed Lloyd. Ortiz told police he was informed by the second alleged accomplice that "Mr. Hernandez admitted to shooting Mr. Lloyd."

The Ortiz statement is included in an eight-page affidavit that was filed in Florida because the second alleged accomplice, Wallace, was arrested near Fort Lauderdale, in Miramar, Fla., after Hernandez was charged with murder. A separate volume of court records were released by the Attleboro District Court, the jurisdiction where Lloyd was found dead.

Prosecutors have not publically discussed motive, but documents released by police have revealed two points they are investigating further. According to the documents, Hernandez's fiancé Shayanna Jenkins told them she suspected Lloyd was a marijuana dealer. Police said a scale of the kind that could have been used to weigh drugs was recovered in Hernandez's house, court documents showed.

But Lloyd's coach was adamant that Lloyd had nothing to do with drugs.

"He wasn't a drug dealer," Branch said. "[If] you [are] a drug dealer, you ain't riding a bike to practice, you know?"

Before the Patriots drafted Hernandez in 2010, the former tight end addressed questions about his alleged drug use in a letter to the NFL organization, in which he volunteered to "submit to a bi-weekly drug test throughout my rookie season," and he offered to give "any guaranteed portion of my 2010 compensation to these drug tests and reimburse the team a pro-rata amount for any failed drug test."

The Patriots drafted him a week later.

Police are also investigating Hernandez's alleged involvement in a 2012 drive-by shooting in Boston that left two people dead. Could Lloyd have been killed because he knew the details about the shooting?

Again, Branch was skeptical.

"I know Lloyd well. He's not a gang-banger. He is petrified of guns himself," he said. "Saying he was trying to extort or, extort Mr. Hernandez with information… he would never do that. He would never do that, try to extort money. That's not Odin. He would never do that. So that's all a misconception, that's not the Odin I know."

In the coming weeks, as the investigation into Lloyd's death continues and Hernandez's case heads to trial, more will likely be revealed about how these two men were connected and whether one may have tried to pull the other into the rough world they had both spent their young lives trying to escape.

ABC News' Josh Margolin, Michelle McPhee and Lauren Effron contributed to this report

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