Aaron Hernandez had it made. He was a New England Patriots’ star with astonishing talent on the football field and a $40 million contract to go with it. He had a “ride or die” fiancee, a mansion, and friends and family back home who loved him, although those relationships were at times troublesome and fractured.
Then it all unraveled. A new Netflix documentary, Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez, explores the rise and fall of Hernandez, who died of suicide at age 27 in 2017 in a Massachusetts prison cell. He was in prison on a murder conviction. However, the documentary reveals that Hernandez was suspected of other violent acts. How many people did Aaron Hernandez kill? How many people did he shoot?
There are the acts he was convicted of, and the acts he was suspected of. He was linked in news reports and a book to possibly being involved in at least four homicides and three non-fatal shootings. However, there’s strong evidence he didn’t do a double shooting in Florida that was briefly featured in the Netflix documentary, and he was acquitted of two of the homicides and never charged or even named as a suspect in the third. In addition, of course, Aaron Hernandez killed himself. At the time he had been convicted of one murder, of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player.
What caused Hernandez to throw it all away (and take at least one innocent person with him)? The causes may be complex, and the Netflix documentary presents many possibilities: The fact his brain was riddled with CTE – the worst case of it that researchers had ever seen in someone so young. A childhood challenged by molestation, physical abuse, his mother’s tumultuous relationships, and his father’s sudden death. His turmoil over a hidden gay lifestyle. The bad influences of people from his old neighborhood, such as associating with known drug dealers. Perhaps a desire to impress that crowd. Perhaps the simple matter of one’s own character and choices.
Here are the murders and shootings that were linked to Hernandez:
The Murder of Odin Lloyd
This was the single murder that Hernandez was convicted of, although the case was still on appeal when Hernandez died. That’s a fact that might have been a motive for his suicide because there was a law in Massachusetts that meant a conviction would be vacated if the defendant died before appeals were exhausted. Massachusetts courts eventually reinstated Hernandez’s conviction for killing Lloyd, though.
According to Esquire, Odin Lloyd was a Saint Crucian-American semi professional football player who became friends with Hernandez when he started dating Shaneah Jenkins, the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, who is also the mother of his daughter. He also worked as a landscaper.
Lloyd was found dead of gunshot wounds on June 17, 2013 about a mile from Hernandez’s mansion in North Attleborough. It didn’t take authorities long to consider Hernandez a suspect since Lloyd didn’t know anyone else in the wealthy enclave.
It was hardly the perfect crime. As the documentary shows, police even found Hernandez’s DNA on a blunt at the crime scene. They also found a shell casing in a rental car that matched the bullets that took Lloyd’s life. In just over a week, Hernandez was under arrest.
There were a series of text messages between Hernandez and Lloyd that night. “I’m coming to grab that tonight u gon b around I need dat and we could step for a little again,” Hernandez wrote the victim, according to USA Today. The messages documented that Hernandez was trying to get together with Lloyd that night. In addition, the newspaper reported, surveillance video showed Lloyd getting into the car with Hernandez and friends Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz.
A short time later, Lloyd texted his sister messages that prosecutors argued showed he was concerned for his safety around Hernandez. “U saw who I’m with,” he wrote, adding, “Nfl. Just so you know.” A few minutes later, Lloyd was shot and killed. Surveillance video showed Hernandez, Wallace and Ortiz returned to Hernandez’s home a few minutes after that.
The motive for Lloyd’s murder was never completely clear. However, Newsweek reported that it might have been because Lloyd found out about Hernandez’s relationships with men. Ernest Wallace, a co-defendant in the Lloyd murder case, told police Lloyd called Hernandez a “schmoocher,” a gay slur, Newsweek reported. He was accused of helping Hernandez dispose of the murder weapon.
Daniel Jorge Correia de Abreu and Safiro Teixeria Furtado
Daniel Jorge Correia de Abreu and Safiro Teixeria Furtado were murdered in 2012 as they sat in a car outside a night club in Boston. It was Lloyd’s murder that led authorities to Hernandez for this double homicide because they found a vehicle they believed to be the car used by the murderer stashed away in Hernandez’s cousin’s garage.
Hernandez was charged with the double murder after the Lloyd conviction, and he stood trial for it. However, he was acquitted. This is likely because the jury didn’t believe the prosecution’s star witness, a convicted drug dealer named Alexander Bradley, who Hernandez’s attorney argued might have been the triggerman. Bradley admitted being with Hernandez when the shooting occurred. He claimed he witnessed Hernandez shoot Abreu and Furtado after being enraged when one of the men spilled a drink on him inside the club.
Hernandez didn’t know the two victims.
According to the Associated Press, Hernandez’s star lawyer, Jose Baez, claimed prosecutors made “a deal with the devil” by propping up Bradley as their star witness. AP described the two victims as “working-class immigrants from Cape Verde.”
Bradley testified that Hernandez, when he saw the victims’ car, said, “Yo, what’s up now?” along with a racial slur and then opened fire at them. Unlike the Lloyd murder, there was not DNA or forensic evidence tying Hernandez to the crimes.
Shooting of Alexander Bradley
Alexander Bradley is an admitted drug dealer and ex-con who was friends with Hernandez. Bradley alleged that Hernandez ruthlessly shot him as he slept, costing him an eye.
Hernandez was in college when he met Bradley, and Bradley would bring Hernandez marijuana.
Bradley testified that Hernandez grew paranoid after the double murder in Boston and their friendship crumbled at that point, leading up to the shooting. Bradley said they were hanging out in South Florida when Hernandez became worried that police were in a bar, at which point Bradley claimed he responded, “If they are, it’s because of the stupid sh*t you did up in Boston,” according to CNN, which added that this comment made Hernandez upset and led to the shooting later.
He testified that Hernandez shot him while he was sleeping in 2013, a year after the double homicide, and then left him to die, but he didn’t tell police because he wanted Hernandez’s “life,” CNN reported.
In addition to the double homicide, Hernandez was accused of witness intimidation and shooting Bradley in the face “because he feared Bradley would tell authorities about the murders,” CBS Boston reported.
Yahoo Sports reported that prosecutors were able to recover a text message Bradley deleted in which he wrote that he actually didn’t know if Hernandez was the person who shot him. The message to his attorney said: “Now u sure once I withdraw this lawsuit I wont be held on perjury after I tell the truth about me not recalling anything about who shot me.” He had sued Hernandez civilly for the shooting (a suit Hernandez settled in 2016).
At that time, Bradley was a “two-time convicted felon and an acknowledged long-time drugs and guns dealer,” Yahoo Sports reported. In addition, Bradley was granted immunity to testify against Hernandez in the double murder case, which was a big concession considering he admitted being in the car when the homicides went down. All of that clearly contributed to the jury’s decision to acquit Hernandez.
Jose Baez, the celebrity defense attorney working for Hernandez, told the jury that Bradley was the real killer and murdered the men over drugs.
Murder of Jordan Miller
Did Hernandez murder a fourth person? He was never charged with it, but it’s an accusation. The claim comes from journalist Dylan Howard’s book “Aaron Hernandez’s Killing Fields,” which says that Hernandez’s former cellmate, Kyle Kennedy, claimed that Hernandez talked about the Miller murder, according to CBS Sports.
The book claims that Hernandez had hired people to kill Odin Lloyd, but Miller, who looked like Lloyd, was accidentally killed instead. “[Aaron] always used to tell me he had four murders. He would just always, all the time joke around saying ‘I got four bodies,'” Kennedy said, according to RadarOnline. Miller was gunned down in his home a week before Lloyd died.
A 2014 Homicide Watch article on Miller’s death reported that “Miller’s assailant fired nine shots into the victim’s first-floor bedroom window in his home at 633 Cummings Highway the night of June 5.” The killing was unsolved.
Double Shooting in Florida of Corey Smith & Justin Glass
Hernandez was initially a person of interest in a 2007 shooting in Florida. At the time, he was 17 years old. Hernandez played football at the University of Florida.
The Washington Post reported in 2017 that police had “quietly cleared” Hernandez in this double shooting. Initially, a witness described a shooter who matched his description.
According to the Post, this was “one of nearly half a dozen shooting incidents connected to Hernandez.” The victims in the Florida shooting were Corey Smith and Justin Glass in Gainesville. Neither was killed.
Hernandez was questioned but not named as a suspect.
The shooting occurred after the victims drove home following a night out at a nightclub called the Venue where a third man with them had gotten into an “altercation with several University of Florida football players,” including Hernandez. The victims said two men approached their vehicle with one opening fire.
Other witnesses, though, told police the shooter didn’t look like Hernandez and was actually a black male, possibly with cornrows. The man who initially identified the shooter as looking like Hernandez took back that identification later, The Post reported.
“The evidence as developed indicates he was not the shooter,” State Attorney William Cervone said to the newspaper.
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