Football / Sports

Authorities seek information from Aaron Hernandez tattoo artists

Boston prosecutors who charged Aaron Hernandez with murder in a 2012 double homicide announced Wednesday that they are interested in speaking to anyone who tattooed the former New England Patriot after the killings or in the six months prior.

The heavily inked, former NFL star was indicted last week, named as the triggerman in the July 2012 drive-by shooting that killed Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado, two Cape Verdean men whose car was hit with a barrage of gunfire while they were stopped at a traffic light after leaving Cure Lounge, a nightclub in Boston's South End. Earlier in the night, authorities say, the victims had a "chance encounter" with Hernandez at Cure.

The Suffolk County District Attorney's office said it is seeking information from the artist or artists "who provided Hernandez with specific tattoos on his right forearm between February 2012 and June 2013" because they believe that the artists might be able to provide statements that could be used as evidence in the case.

The time frame covers the six months leading up to and 11 months following the shooting -- a year and a half spanning the end of the 2011-12 football season until Hernandez's arrest in the June 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd. Evidence recovered in the Lloyd case helped Boston authorities reopen their investigation and eventually make an arrest in the 2012 double slayings, a case that previously had gone cold.

The period of interest to investigators begins the same month as the 2012 Super Bowl, at which Hernandez told reporters that the artwork on his right arm "is about good days and bad days and the end is heaven."

"Big Brother" is etched on his inner right forearm. The words "No Fear" wrap around a dagger stretching from elbow to wrist. On the top of the forearm, the phrase "In God's Hands" surrounds an image of a man holding a baby -- and photographs indicate that Hernandez added stars to that image in the months between the 2012 Super Bowl and his arrest last June.

Prosecutors listed a number of cities throughout the country to which Hernandez traveled and might have received tattoo work in the course of the 17 months.

He visited his hometown in Bristol, Conn. He is believed to have frequented Cure in Boston on multiple occasions in summer 2012 -- joined by his friend Alexander Bradley, an East Hartford native who was with Hernandez on the night of the double homicide.

In February 2013, Hernandez and Bradley went to Palm Beach, Fla. -- a trip that apparently ended their friendship, as Bradley later filed a lawsuit that accused Hernandez of shooting him in the eye and leaving him to die after an argument at a strip club.

The following spring, Hernandez moved to Hermosa Beach, Calif., for training with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, but he also made a trip to Miami to visit former University of Florida teammate Mike Pouncey. Pouncey last fall was subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury investigating whether Hernandez illegally obtained weapons from Florida.

In May 2013, weeks before Hernandez was arrested and charged with murder, authorities say that he and Ernest Wallace, a Bristol man also charged in Lloyd's death, were involved in a dispute at a bar in Rhode Island.

The district attorney's office listed those five states, but said it was interested in talking to anyone who tattooed Hernandez's right forearm during that time frame. It would not provide specifics about the information sought, citing fears that it could influence witness statements.

Hernandez is scheduled to appear in court in Massachusetts next week to face charges in the Boston killings. He was indicted on two counts of first-degree murder, three counts of armed assault with intent to murder, one count of assault and battery, and one illegal firearms count.

(c)2014 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)

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