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Lloyd’s Family: Patriots’ Hernandez Was Friend

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Aaron Hernandez #81 of the New England Patriots gains yards in the fourth quarter during a game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on December 10, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Aaron Hernandez #81 of the New England Patriots gains yards in the fourth quarter during a game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on December 10, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

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BRIDGET MURPHY,Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) — A body was found, search warrants were issued, investigators conducted interviews — all the signs of an impending police action were in place by week’s end. Still the family of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd waited for answers.

A jogger found Lloyd’s body in an industrial park Monday, a mile from the home of New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. Family members said Friday the two men were friends who were together the night Lloyd died. They said Lloyd had been dating Hernandez’s fiancee’s sister for about two years.

Police have searched in and around Hernandez’s sprawling home in North Attleborough, not far from where the Patriots practice. Hernandez’s attorney Michael Fee has acknowledged media reports about the state police search of Hernandez’s home but said he wouldn’t have any comment on it.

Police in nearby Providence, R.I., said they had assisted Massachusetts state police and North Attleborough police with activity related to the Hernandez investigation at a strip club named Club Desire. It was unclear if they believed Lloyd and Hernandez might have been at the club in the days before Lloyd died. A reporter was escorted out of the club Friday afternoon before she could speak with employees or patrons.

The Bristol County district attorney has not released any information, other than saying Lloyd’s death was being treated as a homicide. By the time Attleboro District Court closed Friday, no arrest warrants had been filed in state courts, clerk magistrate Mark E. Sturdy said. Three search warrants were issued in the investigation earlier in the week but have not yet been made public.

Family members say Lloyd, 27, was never in trouble.

“I want the person that killed my son to be brought to justice,” said Lloyd’s mother, Ursula Ward. “That’s my first-born child, my only boy child, and they took him away from me. … I wouldn’t trade him for all the money in the world. And if money could bring him back I would give this house up to bring my son back. Nothing can bring my son back.”

Family members said they had heard from Lloyd’s girlfriend but not from Hernandez after Lloyd’s death.

Hernandez was gone from his home for most of the day Friday, including when two state police officers knocked on his door. He returned home with his attorney around 5 p.m.

Patriots spokesman Stacey James has said the team does not anticipate commenting publicly during the police investigation. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was waiting for the legal process to take its course.

Meanwhile, CytoSport, a Benicia, Calif.-based company that makes Muscle Milk and other supplements for athletes, said Friday it was ending Hernandez’s endorsement contract, effective immediately, because of the investigation.

The Patriots drafted Hernandez out of Florida in 2010. Since then, he has combined with Rob Gronkowski to form one of the top tight end duos in the NFL. 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. Last summer, the Patriots gave him a five-year contract worth $40 million.

Hernandez said after he was drafted that he had failed a drug test while with the Gators and had been upfront with NFL teams about the issue.

Earlier this week, a man filed a lawsuit in South Florida claiming Hernandez shot him in the face after they argued at a strip club there. Alexander Bradley’s lawsuit accuses Hernandez of negligence, among other things, suggesting that the shooting may have been accidental.

Hernandez’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

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Associated Press writers Curt Anderson in Miami, Michelle R. Smith in Attleboro, Rodrique Ngowi in Boston and Erika Niedowski in Providence, R.I., contributed to this report.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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