A new Netflix series, “Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez,” documents the life of the former New England Patriots tight end and convicted murderer and dives into the crimes he allegedly committed before killing himself in prison in 2017.
By the time of his death, Hernandez had been convicted of the 2013 murder of his friend, Odin Lloyd, and had been acquitted in the murder of two other men, Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, who were killed in a drive-by shooting in 2012.
Hernandez took his own life five days after his acquittal.
The documentary delves into Aaron’s childhood, his time playing football at the University of Florida and his work with the Patriots. It addresses his violent behavior, alleged struggles with his sexuality, and his astounding case of Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, with which he was diagnosed after his death.
The series includes several jailhouse phone calls, alongside interviews with childhood friends, journalists, his teammates and defense attorneys.
Here are some claims the documentary made about Hernandez:
1. He was in a sexual relationship with a close friend and teammate in high school
Hernandez and his childhood friend Dennis SanSoucie played football together at Bristol Central High School in Connecticut. SanSoucie was a quarterback and Hernandez was a tight end. SanSoucie alleged in the documentary that the pair eventually began a relationship, but never told anyone.
“I was in such denial … because I was an athlete,” SanSoucie said in the documentary. “You mean to tell me that the quarterback and the tight end was gay? He sleeps with other men?’ No, it doesn’t sit right with people. It doesn’t sit right within our own stomach at that time.”
The documentary also described Hernandez’s late father as “homophobic,” which producers alluded could have contributed to Hernandez’s struggle with his sexuality.
"Aaron was extremely terrified of his father finding out,” SanSoucie said. “I mean, Mr. Hernandez was well known as a man’s man…”
Hernandez's sexual orientation and the theory it was the motive behind Lloyd's killing was discussed on a radio show two days before his suicide. SanSoucie said it wasn’t until after Hernandez died that he finally told his own father about what happened between he and Hernandez.
2. He had a very rocky relationship with his mother
Hernandez’s father, Dennis Hernandez, died in 2006 when Aaron was 16. But reports alleged that before his death, Dennis was abusive to his wife and children.
Aaron's relationship with his mother, Terri Hernandez, was also complicated, according to the documentary.
In jailhouse phone calls obtained by the documentary, Aaron tells his mom, “There’s so many things I would love to talk to you about, so you can know me as a person, but I could never tell you. And you’re gonna die without even knowing your son.”
Aaron also blamed his mother for not getting him the help he needed as a child.
“You ruined me,” he said during another recorded phone call. “You’re the reason I could never pay attention in school and s***. You were supposed to get me my medication.”
He blamed her for not being there for him after the death of his father.
“I was the happiest f****** little kid in the world, but you f***** me up. And I just lost my father, and I had to go to college, and I had nobody! What the f*** did you think I was gonna do? Become a perfect angel?” he said. “Oh my god, if I was with you right now I would've probably beat the s*** out of you. I don't even know why you bring me to this level.”
3. He was allegedly violent during his time at the University of Florida
Aaron began was 17 when he went to college, not too long after his father’s death. The documentary alleges that one night, Aaron went out to a bar called “The Swamp” with Tim Tebow, who also attended the school, and when the manager asked Aaron to pay for two drinks he’d bought, he punched the man. It was allegedly swept under the rug, and the manager decided to not to press charges.
On another occasion, a man allegedly fitting the description of Aaron fired a gun into a vehicle in Gainesville in 2007. The documentary alleges that Aaron could have been involved, but because of his status, he faced no repercussions. The case remains unsolved.
4. He had severe brain trauma
Aaron's defense attorney, Jose Baez, said that after Aaron took his own life, he knew the footballer's brain needed to be studied by researchers at Boston University. Aaron's family agreed, and researchers found he had suffered extensive damage to his brain due to CTE. The damage was some of the worst authorities had seen.
“This would be the first case we’ve ever seen of that kind of damage in such a young individual,” Anne McKee, a neuropathologist at the university, said at a press conference at the time.
McKee added that the damage had most likely taken years to develop and would have affected Aaron's impulsivity, judgment and propensity for violence. Aaron had been recorded talking about how badly he was injured while playing football.
“My body’s broke, like in the morning, I’m like what the f*** is wrong with me?” Hernandez said in an audio recording. “I’m like a grandpa. All my bones are sore. My body’s so f***** up, honestly, just from football.”