BOSTON (Reuters) - Aaron Hernandez’s fiancee does not know what motivated the suicide of the former New England Patriots player last month but did not rule out that he might have done so to improve his family’s financial situation, she said in a television interview to be broadcast on Tuesday.
Hernandez had been a rising star in the National Football League with a $41 million contract when he was arrested in June 2013 and accused of murdering an acquaintance. The team cut him within hours.
He was convicted of that murder in 2015 and killed himself while serving a life sentence. His death stunned his family because it came just days after he was acquitted of a separate 2012 double murder.
In the interview to be broadcast on Tuesday on CBS’s “Dr. Phil” show, host Phil McGraw asked Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez if she believed Hernandez had killed himself to increase her odds of recouping some of his lost earnings from the team.
“I think anything’s a possibility, but I don’t know,” Jenkins-Hernandez responded, according to a clip of the interview posted online.
A Massachusetts judge last week vacated Hernandez’s conviction on the earlier killing, following a quirk of state law that holds that a person may be cleared of a conviction if he dies before he has exhausted his appeal process. Prosecutors are appealing that decision.
A note to Jenkins-Hernandez found near Hernandez’s body in the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Lancaster, Massachusetts, said: “You’re right.”
Jenkins-Hernandez said she doubted the official account that it was a suicide. Family lawyers are conducting their own investigation into the hanging.
“If he was sitting right here, there’s tons of stuff that I would ask but I can‘t,” the mother of Hernandez’s 4-year-old daughter said. “And I can’t speculate on what he was thinking or why he may or may not have done it ... It’s unbelievable to me.”
Besides the note to Jenkins-Hernandez, authorities recovered one addressed to the athlete’s daughter.
Jenkins-Hernandez said in the interview that a third note was addressed to his lawyers. An official state account of Hernandez’s death had not said to whom that third note was addressed.
A Department of Corrections report found that Hernandez had hanged himself with a bed sheet, spread shampoo all over the floor of his cell and jammed the door with cardboard.
Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn