As part of an ongoing series about the NFL star’s fall from grace, the Boston Globe published new information about Aaron Hernandez’s time in jail and the events leading up to his shocking suicide, just days after he was acquitted of double murder in April 2017.
The Boston Globe report cited hundreds of records of jailhouse phone calls Hernandez made from the Suffolk County Jail in downtown Boston before, during and after his trial for the killings of Safiro Furtado and Daniel de Abreu. He had already been convicted of murdering Odin Lloyd, but his conviction was still in appeal at the time of his death.
Speaking mostly to his fiancee Shayanna Jenkins, his mother and a close childhood friend, Hernandez focused on the positive aspects of his incarceration, including generous meals and a view of the city through the fence of a rooftop basketball court.
He’d had a strained relationship with his mother, Terri Hernandez, but appeared to be trying to make amends in those last months. Still, the call records obtained by the Boston Globe show that his mother reminded him that his former high school had taken down his football award plaques, and was far from encouraging about his chances of an acquittal. And though his defense team had asked Hernandez’s family to attend his double murder trial as a show of support, only Jenkins was a regular presence. His mother never came, though she had been in the courtroom at this first murder trial, which ended in a conviction.
Three days later, according to records based on an informant’s account, Hernandez and another, unidentified inmate took advantage of the lights dimming and cell doors opening in the early evening, when the inmates were permitted to exercise. Hernandez reportedly acted as though he was going to the gym, but surreptitiously returned to his cell where the inmate had hidden under the bed. That evening, the two of them smoked K2 — synthetic marijuana — and “talked of God and death,” according to the Boston Globe report.
The next night, Hernandez would make his final jailhouse phone call to Jenkins, who later said that nothing seemed out of the ordinary. In the early hours of the next morning, a prison guard noticed that Hernandez’s jail cell had a sheet covering the door, and pulled it away to see Hernandez, naked, hanging from the window bars. He was naked, and had “John 3:16” written in blood on his forehead. He had doused the cell floor with shampoo, causing the guards to slip and struggle as they approached the body.
It’s unclear how long Hernandez had been hanging. The overnight guard had walked by the cell roughly on the hour at 11 p.m., midnight, and 1 a.m., but reportedly did not shine a flashlight in Hernandez’s cell, or slow down to check on him. And he didn’t appear at all for the 2 a.m. round. According to records obtained by the Boston Globe, the guard told investigators that he was “in a fog” that morning due to lack of sleep. It is not known if or how the guard was disciplined for breaking protocol, but he did not lose his job.
The report notes that the effects of K2 can stay in a person’s system for 72 hours, and because the drug contains a variety of chemicals, may not always be picked up on a toxicology report. Hernandez’s report issued by the Massachusetts State Police reportedly found that he was “negative for all substances tested, including synthetic cannabinoids.”
It remains unknown why Hernandez choose to take his own life, thought the report noted that he had recently learned his conviction could be reversed if he died while it was pending appeal — and that’s exactly what happened. The final installment of the investigative series will appear in the Boston Globe on Friday.