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Family and friends of former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez gathered for a private funeral in his hometown of Bristol, Connecticut, on Monday.

The cars were piled on top of each other and bleeding onto the curb of the highway as they inched west and north towards the Lake Ann Park parking lot, each blasting their favorite from the windows; families walked down the trail and under the tunnel beneath the highway they'd just come from, holding the strings of the purple balloons floating just behind them; families walking back to their cars had no balloons and little expression. Altars of brown paper lanterns, unlit during the overcast day, peppered the path towards the off-white, square-paneled compound.

The school board in Newtown, Connecticut, wants Donald Trump to acknowledge the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Trump has praised a radio host who claims the shooting was a hoax. The board sent Trump an open letter in February asking him to repudiate that claim.

The letter says the town has been hurt by the viciousness of people who deny the shooting took place. At least three people have been arrested for harassing parents who lost children in the shooting.

Former Irish Republican Army commander Martin McGuinness, who left violence behind to choose peace — and who eventually met Queen Elizabeth II — has died at age 66. For nearly a decade, McGuinness served as Northern Ireland's deputy first minister.

From London, NPR's Frank Langfitt reports:

"McGuinness retired from politics in January, suffering from a rare genetic disease. Today, he was lauded for his crucial role in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which brought peace to Northern Ireland.

Risk Of Death In Connecticut Linked To Where You Live

Mar 14, 2017

Connecticut has seen significant reductions in deaths from breast and colon cancer in the last three decades, but the state exceeds the national mortality rate for uterine cancer and three other cancers, as well as for mental health and substance use disorders.

Updated at 12:38 p.m. ET

Bill Paxton, prolific actor and big-screen fixture for decades, has died at the age of 61. In a statement released to media outlets Sunday, a family representative says Paxton died of complications from surgery.

"A loving husband and father, Bill began his career in Hollywood working on films in the art department and went on to have an illustrious career spanning four decades as a beloved and prolific actor and filmmaker," the statement reads.

It's the stuff of spy novels.

Mary Tyler Moore, who died Wednesday, wasn't just beloved. She was the kind of beloved where they build you a statue. Moore's statue is in Minneapolis, where her best-known character, Mary Richards of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, worked for the fictional television station WJM. She'd already won two Emmys playing Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show, but Moore cemented her icon status when Mary Richards walked into that job interview. Even if she got off to a rough start with Lou Grant, her soon-to-be boss, who kept a bottle of whiskey in his desk.

The last person to leave footprints on the moon has died. NASA reported that Gene Cernan died Monday at the age of 82, surrounded by his family.

Gene Cernan flew in space three times, including twice to the moon. Cernan was big, brash and gregarious. And if he hadn't been lucky, he could have missed his chance to walk on the moon.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

The number of deaths from heroin and synthetic opioids continues to rise in New England, according to data just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There aren't many Shakers left.

Sister Frances Carr, one of three remaining members of the religious group commonly known as the Shakers, died Monday at the age of 89.

According to the group's website, Carr died due to cancer at the Shaker community at Sabbathday Lake in New Gloucester, Maine, "surrounded by the community and her nieces."

Updated at 1:39 p.m. Thursday

Carrie Fisher, the actress who became a pop culture icon for her performance as Princess Leia in Star Wars, has died at age 60.

Fisher had suffered a massive heart attack last week on a flight from London to Los Angeles. On Sunday, her family said she was in stable condition.

A representative of Fisher's daughter, Bille Lourd, confirmed that Fisher died on Tuesday morning.

Fisher shot to fame at the age of 19, when she took on her instantly iconic role in Star Wars.

Harriet Jones / WNPR

A man who used his recovery from opioid addiction to inspire others has been shot dead in a confrontation outside a bar in Groton. Joey Gingerella, who was 24, was apparently intervening after he saw a man assaulting a woman in the parking lot of Ryan’s Pub. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Nancy Butler was first touched by God while listening to bible stories at the Methodist bible camp she attended when she was nine-years-old. By the end of the week, she was ready to give her life to God, first through through daily prayer and bible readings, later by founding one of the first inclusive evangelical churches that welcomed everyone regardless of sexual orientation.  God became the center of her life - but she kept it private from others. 

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