The funeral of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez will take place on Monday, five days after he was found hanged by a bed sheet in a Massachusetts prison in what state officials have ruled a suicide.
Hernandez had been a rising star in the National Football League with a $41 million contract when he was arrested in June 2013 and charged with murdering an acquaintance in an industrial park not far from the Patriots' stadium.
He was serving a sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole after being found guilty of that murder when he hanged himself in a prison cell, according to state officials. His death occurred just days after his acquittal of a separate 2012 double murder.
The funeral will be in Bristol, Connecticut, where Hernandez grew up.
"We wish to say goodbye to Aaron in a private ceremony and thank everyone in advance for affording us a measure of privacy during this difficult time," the family said in a statement ahead of the funeral.
The lawyer who successfully defended the 27-year-old former athlete in the double-murder trial has vowed to conduct his own investigation into the circumstances of Hernandez's death at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Lancaster, Massachusetts, west of Boston.
Three handwritten notes were found near a Bible in Hernandez's cell, although their contents have not been made public.
(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)