Aaron Hernandez: The closest person to NFL star went to prison for him twice rather than testify against him
Ever since his father passed away when he was a teenager, Hernandez struggled all his life to find a confidant
Aaron Hernandez, one of the most exciting prospects in the history of the NFL, had only one person who continued to stay by him during his trying times. It was neither his mother, nor his brother. The person was his cousin - Tanya Simpleton, who proved to be the one most loyal to him until his death. Hernandez was sentenced to life for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, the boyfriend of his fiancée’s sister. Two years later, he was found hanging in his prison cell in Boston. The 25-year-old had taken his own life.
Ever since his father passed away when he was a teenager, Hernandez struggled to find a confidant. He was despondent with grief and wanted someone to share his emotions with. Unfortunately, his mother was not around. Terry Hernandez, just months after her husband Dennis Hernandez's death, began having an affair with Jeff Cummings, Tanya's husband. Disgusted by the prospect of Cummings living at his house, Hernandez began spending more time at his cousin's place and that is where a new relationship bloomed between a mother and a love-deprived son. Hernandez left his boyhood home to go to Simpleton's house, where there was more partying, smoking, and visits by people with criminal records.
That is where he met Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, who would later become Hernandez's accomplices in the shooting and killing of Lloyd.
Simpleton's bond with Hernandez was so close that she was willing to go to prison for his sake, and she did — twice. During the Odin Lloyd murder trial, prosecutors alleged that Simpleton had assisted Wallace and Ortiz to escape after the crime. Simpleton, a 30-year-old mother-of-two, and dying of breast cancer, was called to the court to testify against Hernandez, however, she refused to do so and accepted contempt of court. She chose "family love over civic duty." Simpleton was sentenced to prison for months.
"You mean the world to me, you know that right?" Hernandez told Simpleton during a phone call from prison. "You have to be there for me because I cannot live without you. I hope you know that."
Hernandez and Simpleton, who grew up together, had a very complicated relationship. The 30-year-old eventually became a key figure in the investigation because she knew a lot about what had unfolded before and after Lloyd's murder. As the investigation into the case was unfolding, detectives found another shocking evidence connecting Simpleton and Hernandez to an unsolved double homicide case in Boston. When police were searching Simpleton's house to find more clues in Lloyd's case, they seized a silver SUV from her garage which was connected to the murder of Safari Furtado and Daniel de Abreu. They were found shot and killed outside a nightclub in the theatre district of Boston. Hernandez was spotted in the CCTV footage of the nightclub the pair had gone too.
Simpleton was again asked to testify against Hernandez and reveal the details of the car. She refused to comply, earning herself another prison sentence that had a disastrous effect on her cancer treatment. Simpleton passed away from the disease a few months before Hernandez took his life.
"I missed you," Hernandez told Simpleton in a prison phone call. "I miss you all the time stupid," she responded days after serving her sentence.
"I missed you the most when you were in jail. I was so depressed. I thought maybe you don’t like me anymore," Hernandez told his cousin. To which she responded with: "I could never stop loving you, you are like my child.” Hernandez's own mother stopped coming to trial after his conviction.
Netflix's 'Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez' airs on January 15, 2020.