Speaking on Dr. Phil’s syndicated television show, Jenkins-Hernandez said Aaron Hernandez sounded positive and excited to speak to their daughter in the hours before he was found dead on April 19. “‘Daddy’s going to be home,'” she quoted him as saying. “‘I can’t wait to sleep in the bed with you guys and hold you and love you.'”
Jenkins-Hernandez called the final conversation they had “completely normal,” and thus the suicide news came as a shock.
“He definitely was emotional and we had talks about encouragement,” Jenkins-Hernandez said. “’You’re going to come home, we’re going to keep fighting.’ But I never would have suspected something like this.” She indicated that he never talked about suicide, and believed when she was first called by the prison that the suicide news was a hoax.
“It’s just not the Aaron that I know. I think that if he would have done something like this, it would have been at his worst, and I felt like we were, like it was looking so bright,” Jenkins-Hernandez said. “I haven’t been able to grasp it yet … I don’t think this was a suicide.” She questioned official accounts that Hernandez had written “John 3:16” on his forehead, saying he was not a particularly religious individual. “None of it makes sense to me,” she said. “Not the findings, not the investigation.”
Hernandez was found dead in his cell just days after being found not guilty in a double homicide case from 2012. Hernandez had been serving time for the murder of Odin Lloyd, found dead in 2013. Since his death, Hernandez’s conviction has been vacated, since it was under appeal at the time of his death.
In the far-reaching interview, airing over two days, Jenkins-Hernandez spoke on the Lloyd murder, the possibility of Hernandez’s jailhouse relationships, and the contents of suicide notes.
“I did see that [one suicide note] was addressed to ‘Shay’ instead of ‘Babe’ or ‘Bae,’ the way he would refer [to] me as that, was a little odd to me,” Jenkins-Hernandez said. “But as far as the content, seemed to be his loving self.” She added that the handwriting appeared to be “similar” to his, but said it could be “easily duplicated.”
Jenkins-Hernandez also indicated that the initial judgment that landed Hernandez in prison came as a surprise. “We were definitely leaning toward an innocent verdict,” she said of the Odin Lloyd trial. “I truly don’t [believe Hernandez killed Lloyd]. He may have been at the wrong place at the wrong time, but I don’t think what has been said to be out there to be accurate.”
“Everyone has their own choice in friends,” Jenkins-Hernandez said. “He didn’t have the best choice in friends, but that didn’t make him a bad person.” She said he wasn’t a gang member, but conceded that she would not have known if he were.
Jenkins-Hernandez indicated that she and her daughter tried to visit Hernandez at least once a week. She said she added “Hernandez” to her surname to demonstrate to their daughter that they were a family.
While Hernandez’s estate does not appear to have any remaining funds, there is the possibility of an NFL pension or other funds, however unlikely for Jenkins-Hernandez. (Wrongful-death litigation and the potential reinstatement of Hernandez’s guilty status both remain to be determined by a range of courts.)
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.
More Hernandez coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• Dan Wetzel: Aaron Hernandez’s murder conviction vacated
• Aaron Hernandez suicide note to fiancée released
• Dan Wetzel: Odd details emerge about Hernandez’s prison suicide
• Dan Wetzel: Aaron Hernandez’s latest legal drama begins to unfold