NFL star Aaron Hernandez was busted this morning, nine days after a drinking pal was found slain near the tight end’s home.
Hernandez woke up a free man inside his North Attleboro, Mass., mansion before state and local cops went inside and hauled him out in handcuffs shortly before 9 a.m.
The hulking 23-year-old wore red workout shorts, and was cuffed with his hands and arms under a white T-shirt. Plainclothes cops loaded him into the back of a squad car.
The Patriots cut their Pro Bowl tight end minutes later.
It’s believed Hernandez was arrested in connection to the slaying of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd, 27, whose body was found at a North Attleboro industrial park on June 17, about a half-mile from the tight end’s home.
Hernandez, Lloyd and two other men were spotted at a Boston bar the previous night and left together, according to multiple broadcast reports.
Lloyd's relatives said he was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee. The victim’s mom, Ursula Ward, declined to comment about news of the player’s arrest.
"Nothing to say, please. Thank you," she said at her Boston home before shutting the door.
Hernandez is expected to appear in court later today.
ABC News reported last week that Hernandez would be arrested for alleged obstruction of justice.
A home security system, including video surveillance equipment, was intentionally destroyed at Hernandez’s pad, law enforcement sources told ABC. Cops always wanted to know why Hernandez hired a team of house cleaners to wipe up his home on June 17.
“Today, at approximately 8:47 a.m., Aaron Hernandez was arrested by Massachusetts state police and North Attleboro police,’’ Bristol County DA Samuel Sutter said. “He will be arraigned at Attleboro District Court.”
The Patriots, who had remained silent about Hernandez’s situation, did their best to distance themselves today from their now-former tight end.
“A young man was murdered last week and we extend our sympathies to the family and friends who mourn his loss,” according to a team statement this morning. “Words cannot express the disappointment we feel knowing that one of our players was arrested as a result of this investigation.”
The Pats added: ”We realize that law enforcement investigations into this matter are ongoing. We support their efforts and respect the process. At this time, we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do.”
State cops have searched Hernandez’s house and the nearby woods and pond since Lloyd’s body was found. At least three search warrants have been executed in the on-going police probe of Lloyd’s slaying.
The murder probe has jarred Hernandez’s quiet suburban neighborhood, where a small army of reporters and TV trucks have camped. Hernandez's sprawling mansion is near the Rhode Island line and only 10 miles from the Patriots home, Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots drafted Hernandez, a Bristol, Conn., native, out of the University of Florida in 2010. Last summer, the team gave him a five-year contract worth $40 million.
Since Hernandez was linked to Lloyd’s slaying, NFL executives have whispered that his draft stock in 2010 had fallen due to failed drugs tests and character questions.
The troubled player was sued in federal court last week by a former friend, who was allegedly shot by Hernandez in Florida in February.
Alexander Bradley, 32, said he was at a Miami strip club with Hernandez when they allegedly began arguing. Later that night as they drove north to Palm Beach, Bradley said he was shot in the face by Hernandez.