Terri Valentine Hernandez has been a constant in the story of the rise and downfall of her son, former NFL star Aaron Hernandez. However, her on-and-off relationship choices with abusive men also made her son’s childhood tumultuous.
Where is she now? Today, Terri Hernandez still lives in Connecticut, and she’s still in a relationship with Jeff Cummings, the former husband who once attacked her with a knife, according to her mother’s 2019 obituary. She’s active on Facebook.
On her Facebook page, she writes that she is: “Admin Secretary at South Side School Bristol CT. Studied at Bay State College. Went to Bristol Central High School. Lives in Farmington, Connecticut. From Bristol, Connecticut.” Her page is filled with pictures of Terri with Cummings, with her surviving son DJ Hernandez, and with her grandchildren. She’s also posted old photos of Aaron, commenting on one that he looked like her. For her birthday in 2019, she asked for donations to a national suicide prevention lifeline. She wrote under a photo of Aaron, “I know we all miss him. Nothing was ever the same.”
The tragic saga of Aaron Hernandez is the subject of a gripping Netflix documentary that streamed on January 15, 2020. It chronicles Aaron’s trajectory from high school phenom to college standout to New England Patriots’ tight end to convicted murderer. In 2017, Hernandez committed suicide in a Massachusetts prison.
What went wrong? For starters, researchers later determined that his brain bore the worst case of CTE they had ever seen in a person his age. For another, his childhood was tumultuous, abusive, and ripped apart by molestation and loss. The Netflix series paints Terri as a somewhat problematic character whose own son harbored anger toward her; in fact, he turned to his cousin, Tanya Singleton, as a mother figure. Cummings, the man who was Terri’s second husband, was Terri’s niece Tanya’s husband first, a fact that deeply troubled Hernandez.
Aaron’s parents were Dennis and Terri Hernandez. Dennis died young and suddenly after a routine hernia operation, forever altering the course of his son’s life. The once promising athlete and 4th round draft pick with a $40 million contract was eventually convicted of murdering the boyfriend of his fiancee’s sister, a man named Odin Lloyd. He was also accused of a string of other violent acts.
Here’s what you need to know about Aaron Hernandez’s mom Terri today:
Aaron’s Mom Is Still in a Relationship With Jeff Cummings, According to Her Mother’s Obit
Today, Aaron’s mom is 60 years old, according to online records. She lives in Unionville, Connecticut, no longer staying at Aaron’s childhood residence.
Terri Hernandez is Italian-American in heritage. Over the years, she has worked as an administrative secretary at the South Side School in Bristol, Connecticut, where Aaron was raised.
Terri had also been a Bristol High School graduate. According to The Boston Globe, when Aaron was growing up, the Hernandez parents, Dennis and Terri, had a tumultuous marriage. They married in 1986, divorced five years later, got married again five years after that. They filed for bankruptcy in 1999.
Things got even more complicated. According to The Providence Journal, Jennifer “Gina” Mercado, a cousin of Hernandez, testified at his murder trial. She discussed the impact that Aaron’s father’s death had on him (he was 16), and she explained that her older sister Tanya Singleton’s husband “had an extramarital affair with Terri Valentine-Hernandez, Aaron’s mother.”
Terri Hernandez and Jeffrey Cummings were later married, but they, too, were divorced “after Cummings attacked her with a knife and was sent to prison,” the newspaper reported.
However, at Aaron’s trial for murder, Cummings accompanied Terri, sometimes putting his arm around her shoulder, according to Providence Journal. According to Daily Beast, Cummings has a criminal history to include drugs, assault on a police officer, and another domestic violence incident. The site added that Cummings flunked 19 drugs tests in one time span of less than a year. In 2010, he was accused of attacking Terri with a knife. Terri divorced Cummings that year.
However, Terri’s mom’s obit indicates that, as of August 2019, she was now back with Cummings.
According to the August 6, 2019 obituary for Terri’s mom, Edith Valentine, Terri remains with Jeff Cummings today. The obit says that Edith Valentine “was predeceased by: her husband John Valentine; her son Robert Valentine; her grandson Aaron Hernandez; and her sons-in-law, Dennis Hernandez and Jeff Tye. She is survived by: her children, Terri Hernandez (Jeff Cummings) of Farmington, Lynn Laffin (Pat) of Poughkeepsie, NY and Patrick Valentine (Nicole) of West Hartford; her close friend Grace Doner; her grandson Dennis Hernandez (Karen); and her great grandchildren, Parker Hernandez, Landon Hernandez, Avielle Hernandez and Anthony Baehr.”
Edith’s obit says she “was a beloved mother, grandmother and great grandmother. She enjoyed spending time by the pool with her grandchildren, family vacations, card games with good friends and big family parties in her backyard. She was an avid UConn Huskies Women’s basketball fan and enjoyed watching them on TV. She loved her companions, cats Beat and Happy. Edith lived a full and happy life and she will be sadly missed by her family. She was also a member of the Church of St. Matthew in Forestville.”
Aaron explained how this all affected him in a prison call, telling his mom Terri: “I was the happiest little kid and you f****d me up. I lost my father, had to go to college, I had nobody. What the f**k did you expect I was going to do? Become a perfect angel?”
Terri was a fixture at Aaron’s murder trial. The Boston Herald reported in 2015 that Aaron wanted Terri and his fiancee Shayanna Jenkins in the courtroom. “It is reasonable, appropriate, and humane that a defendant’s closest family members be permitted to attend his trial,” Hernandez’s attorneys wrote, according to the Herald.
Aaron’s Mom, Terri, Worked as a Bookie & Secretary But His Father Was Abusive
Terri’s first marriage – to Aaron’s dad, Dennis Hernandez – was also marked by abuse.
According to USA Today, Aaron was 16 years old when Dennis Hernandez died at age 49 in 2006 after a routine hernia surgery. “It was more like a shock. Everyone was close to my father, but I was the closest,” Hernandez says. “I was with him more than my friends. When that happened, who do I talk to, who do I hang with? It was tough.”
Both parents were arrested, according to The Globe; Dennis on a cocaine buying accusation, and Terri for accusations that she was part of an “underground sports gambling bookie operation, out of the family home.”
You can read Dennis Hernandez’s obituary here. It says: “Dennis Hernandez, 49, husband of Terri (Valentine) Hernandez of Bristol, passed away on Friday, (January 6, 2006) at Bristol Hospital. Mr. Hernandez was born on February 9, 1956 in Bristol, a son of the late Bienvenido and Josephine (Garcia) Hernandez. Dennis was employed at Bristol Eastern High School and took great pleasure in watching his sons play sports and attending their games.”
However, a Boston Globe profile on Hernandez’s childhood described his father as abusive. “Aaron and his older brother were often beaten and brutalized by their dad. Aaron didn’t cry at his father’s funeral, and people took note. He kept it all inside,” the Globe reported.
According to the Boston Globe, which wrote the seminal profile on Hernandez’s childhood, Dennis was known as the “King” and worked as a janitor. Aaron never recovered from his father’s sudden, untimely death.
Terri and Dennis had a second son named Jonathan (DJ). To the Globe, he detailed severe beatings that he and Aaron received at the hands of their father. “I picked up the phone once to call, to seek help,” the brother said to the Globe, revealing the family abuse for the first time. “And his response was, ‘Call them.’ And he handed me the phone, and he said, ‘I’m going to beat you even harder, you and your brother, and they’re going to have to pull me off of you when they knock down the door.’”
READ NEXT: Aaron Hernandez Death Scene.