Odin Lloyd, 27, was found dead Monday evening about a mile from Hernandez's sprawling house in an upscale subdivision in North Attleborough, Mass. Lloyd was shot, sources told ABC News.
Lloyd's body was discovered in a clearing near John Dietsch Boulevard, not far from a vehicle that had been rented by Hernandez. Police have ruled Lloyd's death a homicide.
Police say that Lloyd was a linebacker for the Boston Bandits, a semi-pro football team, was dating the sister of Hernandez's girlfriend, and that police are trying to reach the sister because they are concerned about her safety. Lloyd's family says he had connections to Hernandez but hasn't elaborated.
At least seven state troopers on Wednesday 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 two days after a body was found about a mile away.
Police, who searched Hernandez's home Tuesday night, executed a search warrant Wednesday for an Enterprise rental car that was leased by Hernandez. That was the car near Lloyd's body.
Police are asking for the public's help in locating a silver mirror cover believed to have been broken off a vehicle and might be visible along a route of travel between Dorchester, where Lloyd was from, and North Attleborough.
Hernandez returned home Wednesday afternoon, declining to speak to media members.
"It has been widely reported in the media that the state police have searched the home of our client, Aaron Hernandez, as part of an ongoing investigation," read a statement from Michael Fee, an attorney at Ropes & Gray. "Out of respect for that process, neither we nor Aaron will have any comment about the substance of that investigation until it has come to a conclusion."
The NFL is not commenting on the Hernandez situation at this point, a league official told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. But the NFL is monitoring developments, as it would in any matter of this nature.
Alexander S. Bradley, the man who claims he was shot by Hernandez after the two argued upon leaving a Miami nightclub in February, is represented by New York attorney David Jaroslawicz.
Jaroslawicz filed a personal-injury lawsuit on behalf of his client, but that the suit was withdrawn because of an inaccuracy. A corrected version was refiled in Florida federal court Thursday morning, Jaroslawicz said.
Jaroslawicz said his client has been a friend of Hernandez for several years. The lawyer said Bradley spent several weeks being treated at a hospital and has endured several operations with even more necessary to repair damage from the gunshot wound.
The original lawsuit, Jaroslawicz said, alleged that Hernandez shot Bradley in the face. The refiling contends that Bradley was shot in the arm, but the bullet traveled into his head and caused damage there, including the loss of his right eye. According to the suit, the two had an argument in a strip club and later, in the car, Hernandez pointed a gun at Bradley. The gun went off and Bradley was hit.
Asked whether he has a police report of the incident, Jaroslawicz declined to provide information. According to USA Today Sports, his client was in the hospital for weeks and, "I'm sure the police were there."
A spokesman for Miami-Dade police told USA Today that he was checking to see whether a report was filed.
A police report from the Palm Beach County Sheriff describes a shooting incident involving a man named Bradley on Feb. 13. The sheriff's office deemed the case inactive because Bradley refused to cooperate. Hernandez was not named in the report.
Hernandez is represented by the Athletes First agency, which said early Wednesday that it had no comment on the police investigation. His mother said by phone from Connecticut on Tuesday she had no knowledge of a case involving him.
In 38 games, the 6-foot-1, 245-pound Hernandez has 175 receptions for 1,956 yards and 18 touchdowns. 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. The Patriots have not said which shoulder was operated on.
Last summer, the Patriots gave Hernandez a five-year contract worth $40 million, according to reports. The deal came just months after the team locked up tight end Rob Gronkowski through 2019.