Things That Matter

All Of Aaron Hernandez’s Secrets Came To The Light After His Suicide

After one of the strangest murder trials to involve an NFL athlete since OJ Simpson, Aaron Hernandez was found dead last week in his cell in an apparent suicide. During Hernandez’s trial for the murder of two men in 2012, his previous frenemy Alexander Bradley — who Hernandez apparently shot in the face (causing him to lose an eye) — testified against him, but it wasn’t enough to convict him. Hernandez was acquitted of a double murder, all while serving a life sentence for another murder, which is only a part of Hernandez’s complicated story, if you can believe it. Here’s what we know after Hernandez’s death:

1. Hernandez hanged himself in his prison cell with a bed sheet.

CREDIT: (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

2. The floors of his cell were soapy and he was found naked.

According to corrections officers, it was done on purpose, so that if he changed his mind last minute, he’d have no choice but to follow through, as the floor would be too slippery to gain footing. He also made sure no one would be able to enter the cell to stop him, jamming the door with cardboard.


3. He had a reference to biblical text written on his forehead.

According to CBS Sports, Hernandez was found with the title of a famous bible verse written on his forehead in blood-red marker. The specific bible verse was John 3:16.


4. His bible was left open to the page with John 3:16 on it.

Credit: Wikimedia

John 3:16 reads “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Those in the Christian faith see this as a verse that speaks to God’s love and his extreme sacrifice.


5. Markings were found on his hands and feet.

Signifying that perhaps he thought he was being crucified, like Jesus, as an innocent. Reports also said law enforcement was looking into whether he was smoking K2, a synthetic form of marijuana, right before he took his life.


6. His suicide came just days after his acquittal for a double murder and on the same day the Patriots visited The White House.

Some have found it suspicious, including his lawyer and agent, both of whom were surprised that he’d taken his life only five days after being acquitted of a double murder. After the acquittal, it was assumed by several news sources that an appeal would be filed for the murder he had already been convicted of and was serving a life sentence for.

7. His brain has been donated to science.

CTE Scans
CREDIT: *Scans of several NFL player brains in CTE research, not of Hernandez’s.
Via: CNN / Bennet Omalu

To add to the strangeness of it all, within a day of his suicide it was revealed that his brain had been donated to research on CTE a disorder affecting NFL players and athletes. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain condition that some researchers think led to the suicides of Hall of Famer Junior Seau and former Bears defensive back Dave Duerson.


8. Hernandez left behind three suicide notes — this information wasn’t immediately divulged to the public.

CREDIT: (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

One was to his fiancé, another to his daughter and a third to his prison lover, confirming suspicions that Hernandez was bisexual. During Hernandez’s first murder case, investigators speculated that Hernandez’s attempt to hide his sexuality may have played a part in the motive.


9. The secrecy of his bisexuality is now being considered as one of the main motives for his previous murder conviction.

LLoyd Hernandez
Via: Wikipedia / Jeffrey Beall / Flickr

Investigators are now saying that the murder of Odin Lloyd may have occurred so Hernandez could keep his sexuality secret. Lloyd had allegedly called Hernandez a “schmoocher,” which Hernandez took for a gay slur, as one co-defendant told detectives in the case. As Newsweek reported, Hernandez’s long time high-school lover was compensated handsomely shortly before Hernandez’s arrest for Lloyd’s murder in a possible attempt to keep his sexuality a secret.

Michele McPhee of Newsweek reported on an interesting detail about Hernandez’s finances:

“Hernandez’s alleged longtime male lover, the high school friend, was interviewed extensively by authorities after Lloyd’s murder, and was forced to testify in front of a grand jury. Law enforcement officials also say Hernandez moved a large amount of money into three accounts shortly before his arrest for the Lloyd killing: one account was for his fiancée; a second was for his daughter; the third, where the most money was moved, was for that friend.”

Although some may find the lengths to which Hernandez would go to keep his sexuality secret — paying people off or even killing them – as extreme measures, the stress, the denial and the pain that can occur from suppressing or hiding one’s sexual identity can be dangerous to a person’s health.

According to a piece in LGBT Weekly, some of the many harmful things that can occur from the stress of hiding one’s sexuality, something Hernandez may have felt compelled to do as an NFL star, are dissociative identity disorder, chronic depression, self-disgust, self-hatred, low self-esteem and negative self-view, alcohol & drug-abuse and suicidal thoughts.


10. Apparently, right before committing suicide, a $50,000 watch was gifted to the family of his prison lover.

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 11.10.16 AM
Via: Northbridge Police

His prison lover has recently been identified as Kyle Kennedy, a 22-year-old, in prison for armed robbery according to a piece in the Daily Mail.


11. Kennedy is now on what is called “eyeball suicide watch.”

People were shocked when Aaron Hernandez took his own life, it’s no wonder watching Kennedy has become a priority with officers on him 24/7.


Aaron Hernandez left a mess in the wake of his suicide, unsolved murders, saddened loved ones, an undecided estate, and there’s no telling what is still yet to be uncovered in this case. We have a feeling we haven’t heard the last of it all. We may never know what was going through his mind when he decided to do what he did, but we can’t help but wonder what strange twists are left to be uncovered.


[H/T] AARON HERNANDEZ’S SEX LIFE PROBED AS MURDER MOTIVE, POLICE SOURCE SAYS

READ: Those Close To Aaron Hernandez Don’t Believe He Committed Suicide

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A Man Was Arrested By ICE After Criticizing Their Policies So Two NFL Players Bailed Him Out

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A Man Was Arrested By ICE After Criticizing Their Policies So Two NFL Players Bailed Him Out

jno24 / d56davis / Instagram

Three months ago, we reported the ICE arrest of immigrant activist José Bello. Bello arrived in this country when he was just three years old, but he isn’t afraid to speak up and advocate for change. Bello has become a powerful activist in the undocumented community and used his poetry to criticize U.S. immigration policies. He did just that at a public forum at the Kern County Board of Supervisors by reading aloud his poem titled “Dear America.”

Less than 36 hours later, he was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and taken to the Mesa Verda detention center. The ACLU has represented Bello and contested the arrest as a violation of first amendment rights under the grounds that his arrest and the high bail bond was a “retaliatory” response from ICE to his poem. After 89 days in detention, unable to hold his son, NFL players Josh Norman of the Washington Redskins and Demario Davis of the New Orleans Saints teamed up with the New York Immigrant Freedom Fund and the National Bail Fund Network to pay Bello’s $50,000 bail.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) separated him from his son just two days after he recalled telling his son, “We will never be apart, chiquito.”

Credit: ACLU of Southern California / YouTube

Bello’s poem effectively tells America that immigrants aren’t out to get them–they’re here to “work hard, pay taxes, and study”… and build a safe home for their families. Here’s an excerpt:

“The fight has begun
‘We will never be apart chiquito,’ is what I promised my son.
Y’all can try to justify your actions. Try to make excuses.
The bottom line here is that at the end, the people always triumph and the government loses.”

Bello is a 22-year-old father of one, a farmworker, and Bakersfield College student.

Credit: @MVLiberation / Twitter

The ACLU also points to his $50,000 bond as a retaliation attempt by ICE given that he makes just $20,000 a year. During his 89 days of detention, he said, “I could see my whole future going out the window.”

“Those three months that I was detained, I just felt like it was cruel,” Bello told The Washington Post. “I couldn’t hold my child. I would have to push him away from me or I would get in trouble. I don’t think any parent should have to experience that. How do you do that to a child? I feel guilty about that, and I’m trying to make up for that time I couldn’t spend with him.”

Bellos said “it seemed like a dream” that NFL players were bailing him out.

Credit: @ufwf / Instagram

Above is an image of Bello reunited with his chiquito niño–finally able to give his son a hug, free from ICE. “To me, it seemed like a dream,” Bello told The Washington Post. “It’s like something that you hear about in movies. I watch football, and I know how much attention and how famous those people are, so just the fact that they would look into helping me out, it was a great honor. I know who they are. I was shocked in a good way.”

Washington Redskins’ Josh Norman and New Orleans Saints’ Demario Davis made his release possible.

Credit: @NFL / Twitter

“Jose Bello was exercising a fundamental right that we pride ourselves on as Americans,” Washington Redskins player, Norman, told ACLU. “If he was detained for reciting a peaceful poem then we should really ask ourselves, are our words truly free? This is America right? Where the 1st Amendment is freedom of speech unless I missed the memo somewhere. He was exercising that right.”

New Orlean Saints player, Davis, remarked, “We’ve seen ICE round up nearly 700 people in Mississippi and leave their children without parents, we’ve seen them turn away asylum seekers who will face certain death in their home countries. Is this America? We must say no, and we must start by helping our most vulnerable.”

Norman and Davis are both members of the independent “Players Coalition,” which “exists to end social injustices and racial inequality so future generations have opportunity to thrive without barriers.”

Credit: @playerscoalition / Twitter

The Players Coalition was founded in 2017 by Anquan Boldin and Malcom Jenkins. The Coalition also has a Task Force Board of 12 voting members, all of whom are NFL players, with the money and social influence to effect change. For example, Davis also helped push through LA House Bill 265 which expanded voting rights to returning citizens and Chris Long gave his entire year’s salary to educational initiatives.

Listen to Jose Bello’s “Dear America” to see why ICE retaliated.

The fight isn’t over. While Bello is out on bond, he’s still facing a judge’s decision about whether he will be deported or allowed to stay in America. ICE claims his arrest was the result of a DUI four months prior. ACLU suggests the timing is far more likely tied to his activism.

READ: An Activist Read A Poem Criticizing Inhumane Immigration Policies And ICE Arrested Him Two Days Later Now His Community Is Standing Behind Him

Honduran Father Whose 13-Year-Old Daughter Committed Suicide After He Wasn’t Granted Asylum Wants Her To “Help Another Person Live”

Things That Matter

Honduran Father Whose 13-Year-Old Daughter Committed Suicide After He Wasn’t Granted Asylum Wants Her To “Help Another Person Live”

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Heydi Gámez García, 13, took her life on July 2nd after her father’s asylum request was denied for the third time. Heydi’s father, Manuel Gámez, sent her to the U.S. after his father was gunned down by MS-13 for refusing to pay a “war tax” to the gang. He didn’t expect that Heydi would be granted asylum, but that he would be deported.

Manuel certainly didn’t envision that his goodbye hug and kiss four years ago would be the last time he would hug and kiss his daughter while she was still alive.

The Gámaz family was broken by MS-13 and failed again by the U.S. immigration system.

Credit: @amy_baker22 / Twitter

Heydi’s mother walked out on her and her dad when she was less than two months old. By the time Heydi was a year old, Manuel left for New York as an undocumented immigrant to make money to send back home to his daughter. After his father was killed by MS-13, and his mother’s health started failing, he worried about who would care for Heydi and his younger sister, Zoila.

Manuel’s sister was granted asylum and cared for Heydi in his absence in New York.

Credit: @holliewolfen / Twitter

A year after his father’s death, he sent Heydi, Zoila and his brother to the U.S. Heydi and Zoila were granted asylum. Heydi learned English within a year and started teaching her father, via phone calls, how to correctly pronounce English words. They spoke every day, always asking when he’d come.

After two failed attempts to gain asylum, Heydi lost hope for being reunited and started cutting herself.

Credit: @holliewolfen / Twitter

He never wanted to make promises he couldn’t keep, like being there for her quinceañera. Heydi watched her classmates complain about their parents’ visiting their school and fell into a depression. In December, she was brought to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation after cutting her wrist at school. She was seeing a therapist until two months before her suicide.

“Please forgive me for failing you,” Manuel wants to tell his daughter.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t be there… I never meant to leave you,” he says to her. Heydi was Manuel’s only child. Heydi’s aunt is coping with impossible guilt. She told CNN, “I was supposed to be protecting her. I would never send her to Honduras. But I never thought something bad would happen to her here.”

Manuel was released on a two week ‘humanitarian’ visit to release Heydi from life support.

Credit: @holliewolfen / Twitter

He finally got to hold her hand and comfort her as she left this life behind. “We love you,” he whispered to her. “Don’t leave us.”

The last thing Heydi told anyone was that she lost hope in being reunited with her father.

Credit: @MaryJaneKnows / Twitter

She was crying as she told her aunt that she feels hopeless and that one day, she’ll become a lawyer to help her dad’s case. She then said she wanted to be alone and was found two hours later in a closet. She didn’t leave a note.

She was declared brain dead a week later at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in Queens.

Dr. Charles Schleien told CNN that she was in a “neurologically devastated state” upon arrival with “no hope for recovery.” He went on to disclose that the Gámaz family “chose to turn tragedy into the gift of life. Heydi is an organ donor and her final act will be to save others.”

The mental health impacts of family separation at our borders can only be told one story at a time.

Credit: @apbenven / Twitter

Every story is important. Every life lost to policies that don’t incorporate the most visceral human desires, like growing up with your father by your side, is one life too many. 

What on earth are we doing?

Credit: @JoeGould50 / Twitter

Update:

On July 18, Heydi was taken off life support. Her family told The New York Times they decided to donate her organs. “She was so young, so healthy, maybe she can live in another person, she can help another person live,” her father told The Times.