Hernandez's apparent suicide left friends, family and his legal team shocked and in disbelief. Many were searching for an explanation to the tragic end of a young man whose football skills at one point earned him a five-year, $40 million contract extension with the NFL's top franchise.
"There were no conversations or correspondence from Aaron to his family or legal team that would have indicated anything like this was possible," said his attorney, Jose Baez. "Aaron was looking forward to an opportunity for a second chance to prove his innocence. Those who love and care about him are heartbroken and determined to find the truth surrounding his untimely death."
"Something's not right. Something just doesn't add up," added cousin Randy Garcia.
The Worcester County district attorney's office and the Correction Department were investigating, and Massachusetts' chief medical examiner was conducting an autopsy.
Hernandez was found hanging from a bed sheet in his cell at the maximum-security Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts early Wednesday, according to corrections authorities.
Law enforcement sources told ABC News that Hernandez was found with the Bible verse John 3:16 written across his forehead in red marker.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life," the verse reads.
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Hernandez also appeared to have red marks on his hands and feet, and investigators are looking into whether he may have smoked synthetic marijuana the night before his death.
Massachusetts Department of Correction spokesman Christopher Fallon said he was not aware of any suicide note and said officials had no reason to believe Hernandez was suicidal. Otherwise, he would have been transferred to a mental health unit, Fallon said.
Hernandez, who was already serving a life sentence for 2013 murder, was acquitted Friday in a 2012 double slaying prosecutors said was fueled by his anger over a spilled drink.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.