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Former Patriots football player Aaron Hernandez found dead in prison cell

Former New England Patriots football player Aaron Hernandez was found dead this morning after hanging himself in his prison cell, where he was serving a life sentence for murder, according to the Massachusetts Department of Correction.

Correction officers discovered Hernandez in his cell at the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts. He was in a “single cell in a general population housing,” the department said in a statement.

“Mr. Hernandez hanged himself utilizing a bedsheet that he attached to his cell window,” according to the statement. “Mr. Hernandez also attempted to block his door from the inside by jamming the door with various items.”

John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Closing arguments in the Aaron Hernandez trial for the murder of Odin Llyod at Fall River Superior Court, on April 7, 2015, in Fall River, Mass.

Correction officers attempted lifesaving techniques on Hernandez, the department said in the statement. He was subsequently transported to the UMass Memorial–HealthAlliance Hospital in Leominster, where he was pronounced dead at 4:07 a.m. ET by a physician.

Hernandez’s next of kin have been notified.

Law enforcement sources told ABC News that Hernandez was found with the bible verse John 3:16 written across his forehead. That verse reads, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Aaron Hernandez is escorted into the courtroom of the Attleboro District Court for his hearing, on Aug. 22, 2013, in North Attleboro, Mass.

The Massachusetts State Police and the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office are investigating his death. An autopsy is being performed in Boston.

A spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Correction told ABC News that there was no prior concern that Hernandez was suicidal and that if there had been, he would have been on mental health watch in a different part of the prison. It’s unknown at this time whether Hernandez left a suicide note, the spokesman said.

George Rizer for The Boston Globe via Getty Images
New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was arrested and led out of his home in handcuffs, on June 26, 2013, North Attleborough, Mass.

From some who knew Hernandez, there was skepticism about the circumstances of his death and whether he killed himself.

Hernandez’s former agent, Brian Murphy, said there was “absolutely no chance he took his own life.”

“Chico was not a saint, but my family and I loved him, and he would never take his own life,” Murphy said.

Hernandez’s lead attorney, Jose Baez, said “there were no conversations or correspondence from Aaron to his family or legal team that would have indicated anything like this was possible.”

“The family and legal team is shocked and surprised at the news of Aaron’s death,” Baez said in a statement. “Aaron was looking forward to an opportunity for a second chance to prove…

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