It's no white Ford Bronco, but a notorious silver Toyota 4Runner is suddenly the hottest piece of murder-linked sports memorabilia on four wheels. Yesterday, a pair of New England car dealers posted an eBay listing for the 2006 Toyota once leased by former Patriots player Aaron Hernandez and allegedly used in the drive-by murder of two men. Though he was found not guilty in the trial last month before his suicide, bidding for the "REAL DEAL" truck "just the way it came from the impound yard" (which was on the block along with a signed Hernandez jersey) briefly topped $100,000 last night before eBay pulled the listing.
And they weren't kidding about the crime-scene condition of the 4Runner. Pictures from the original ad show black powder all over the overhead reading lights and sunroof switch where police dusted for fingerprints. Hernandez first leased the Toyota from a Rhode Island car dealer in 2010 in exchange for promotional appearances right after being drafted by the New England Patriots, but effectively put it in storage in July 2012 after prosecutors alleged he fired five shots from the passenger seat of a "silver SUV" into a neighboring car following a dispute at a Boston nightclub, killing Safiro Furtado and Daniel de Abreu.
After his arrest in 2013 for the murder of Odin Lloyd, police discovered the 4Runner in the garage of one of his relatives in Connecticut and realized it matched witnesses' descriptions of the truck used in the drive-by shooting. It was a notable piece of evidence in the recent trial, as no one debated its involvement in the crime; prosecutors pointed to the suspicious storage timeline as Hernandez's attempts to hide his guilt, while his defense team successfully argued that it was his friend who pulled the trigger.
Since it was a lease, the 4Runner was turned back over to the original dealer after the trial ended. The dealer and another friend then teamed up to sell it on eBay after noticing the high prices commanded by jerseys signed by Hernandez. Prior to eBay pulling the listing, one of the men told CNN they "figured there's a lot of sports people out there, a lot of people that want memorabilia. It's just a strange thing to try to sell. We'll just see where it goes."
Of course, the answer turned out to be not very far. This morning, the dealer told The Boston Globe he had "no idea why" the listing was pulled, and that he had contacted eBay for an explanation. It's possible eBay was suspicious of the high bids, as "vigilantes" have previously driven up the price on Hernandez memorabilia only to refuse payment and chastise the seller for trying to profit off a murderer. In the meantime, the pair is exploring other options.
“It’s valuable to somebody and somebody should have the right to own it without being criticized,’’ he told the Globe. “If we got lucky on this and sold it, we had talked about donating to the people that were involved in the history of it.”