Investigators in the Aaron Hernandez murder case searched a Bristol storage unit rented in fiancee Shayanna Jenkins’ name because they believed she made “overt attempts to hide evidence…and to hinder and mislead” the investigation, according to court documents released Friday.
Jenkins has not been charged in connection with the June 17 shooting death of Odin Lloyd, her sister’s boyfriend. In the newly released documents, investigators cite surveillance video, text messages and an interview with the sister, Shaneah, to suggest Shayanna Jenkins may have had knowledge of what happened to the gun used in the shooting.
Hernandez, the former New England Patriot star from Bristol, has been charged with first-degree murder.
The documents released Friday detail Shayanna Jenkins’ actions on June 18, the day after Lloyd’s body was found near Hernandez’s Massachusetts home. That day, the Jenkins sisters and two of the girls’ uncles – Azia Jenkins and Donnie Smith, both from Bristol – were all at Hernandez’s home at 22 Ronald C. Meyer Dr. in North Attleborough.
According to the records, June 18 footage from the home shows Shayanna Jenkins exiting the basement of the house around 1:15 p.m., carrying a trash bag, which authorities say contains a heavy “rigid object,” resembling a lock box or safe. She placed the trash bag in the trunk of a red Nissan Sentra. Surveillance footage showed her returning 35 minutes later and opening the trunk of the car, which no longer held the trash bag and “rigid object,” the records show.
Carlos Ortiz, one of the suspects charged in connection with the case, has told police that shortly after the shooting Hernandez stashed two guns in a box in the basement.
The footage referenced in the documents shows Shayanna driving the Nissan toward Landry Avenue, where police the next day found a .22 caliber handgun. The gun, authorities said, looked like it may have been “recently discarded.”
Prosecutors have indicated they believe it to be the same gun Ernest Wallace, also charged in the case, was carrying the night of the crime – a weapon Ortiz described as a “deuce deuce.” Hernandez, meanwhile, was captured on surveillance footage carrying a larger handgun, which prosecutors say is the .45 caliber Glock pistol used to kill Lloyd.
The records indicate Shaneah Jenkins relayed to investigators a conversation she had with her uncle, Azia Jenkins, during which he told her that Hernandez had called his fiancee on June 18 because he wanted weapons taken out of the house. Azia Jenkins said that his niece passed the phone to him and Smith, and that later, the weapons were disposed of “in the woods.”
Investigators also cited cryptic texts between Hernandez and his fiancee referencing a box in the basement. The conversation occurred about an hour before Shayanna carried the trash bag out on June 18, the records show.
Police, during a later search of the house, did not find any boxes in the “movie room” of the basement, the location referenced in the text messages. They have seized multiple lock boxes throughout the investigation, none of which has contained the murder weapon.
Investigators did not seize anything during their July 26 search of the storage unit in Bristol. The unit was rented in Shayanna’s name, under a credit card belonging to Aaron Hernandez.
Attempts Friday to reach Jenkins were unsuccessful.
Also mentioned in the documents is Hernandez’s cousin, Tanya Cummings-Singleton, who last week was found in contempt of court after she refused to answer the questions of a grand jury convened in the case. Investigators listed her as also involved in the “overt attempts to hide evidence, render assistance for suspect to elude law enforcement, and to hinder and mislead this investigation.”
“It would be premature at this time for us to comment or speculate on whether more charges will be filed in this case,” the Bristol County District Attorney’s office said Friday. “We are letting the evidence guide us before making our decision.”
By Jenny Wilson, Hartford Courant