When Aaron Hernandez’s body was found hanigng by the neck from a bed sheet in his cell in at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Institute outside of Boston last month, the news was met with mixed reactions.
Some had little sympathy for the convicted murderer, who seemed to live a life punctuated by brutal acts of violence.
Others understood that while Hernandez’s might not have met anyone’s definition of a stand-up guy, his death brought a piteous end to a truly tragic story.
Whatever one’s personal feelings about the disgraced former New England Patriots tight end, it looks as though Hernandez’s life and death will remain subjects of public fascination for years to come.
Reports that Hernandez had a gay lover behind bars have prompted widespread speculation about the contents of the three suicide notes he left behind.
The note addressed to Hernandez’s fiancee – the only that’s been released to the public thus far – reveals that the 27-year-old may have taken his own life in order to exploit a legal loophole that would force the Patriots to pay out withheld bonus cash to the beneficiaries of his will.
(Legal experts say it’s a longshot.)
And, of course, there’s been a high level interest in the macabre details of Hernandez’s suicide, spurred on by reports of messages written in blood, and red ink used to create the appearance of stigmata.
It might be quite some time before a clear picture of Hernandez’s final hours begins to emerge, but new reports from his time behind bars reveals that his years in prison were rife with violence and insubordination:
In Bristol County Jail, where Hernandez served about 22 months before being transferred, he was charged with 21 disciplinary offenses stemming from 12 separate incidents, according to records.
At the Souza-Baranowski prison, where he spent the final two years of his life, there were 78 more disciplinary offenses and 12 major incidents, according to records.
At one point he was caught with a six-inch shiv, which he apparently planned to use to stab another inmate.
Hernandez was involved in at least four physical fights, and correction officer accounts indicate that he was often challenged by other inmates:
“Hernandez struck [name redacted] with a closed fist to the face and both men engage[d] in a physical altercation,” one Souza-Baranowski incident report detailed.
“The combatants ignored several direct orders to cease their actions and chemical agent was utilized to separate the inmates.”
Throughout his time in prison, Hernandez seemed to vacillate between cocksure and despondent.
A member of the Bloods Street Gang who once bragged to a guard, “I’ll run this place and keep running [expletive]. Prison ain’t [expletive] to me,” Hernandez also had a moodier, more withdrawn side.
Inmates reported that he bristled under the constraints of severe authority and often kept to himself.
Hernandez was often on the receiving end of harsh punishments from prison staff, losing privileges that other inmates say makes life behind bars somewhat tolerable.
In one incident that serves to illuminate the grim contest of wills that was Hernandez’s time in prison, the former NFL star received a food package in error, having had his commissary privileges revoked following an altercation.
Hernandez reportedly stayed up all night trying to consume all of the 24 honey buns contained in the package before they were confiscated.
“I’m a smart dude,” Hernandez told corrections officers the following day.
“I knew you’d be coming for this stuff … that’s why I ate as much food as I could.”
He then asked if he could eat the remaining four honey buns, but his request was denied.
“I am so hungry,” Hernandez replied.
“Many stories about my brother’s life have been shared with the public – except the story Aaron was brave enough to share with our mother and me,” Aaron’s brother Jonathan Hernandez said in a recent statement.
“It’s the one story he wanted us to share with the world. It is Aaron’s truth.”
Jonathan has yet to reveal those details, leading many to believe he’s struck some sort of exclusive media deal.
Whatever the case, mysteries about the sad life and death of Aaron Hernandez will likely loom for years to come.