Aaron Hernandez, during the trial for the murder of Odin Lloyd in 2015. Image: AP Photo/Steven Senne/Pool

How Netflix’s ‘Killer Inside” Reveals The Childhood Trauma of Aaron Hernandez


Things change as we get older, and often times you’re caught off guard by the matured point of view about the complexities of carrying the bloody cuts of childhood atrocities, that should’ve been addressed for the freedom of victims.

I have been undergoing the intense cycle of mandated reconciliation with the harmful issues of the past, that are ultra-sensitive and scarily formidable. Youthfulness is an addictive drug that does exactly what mind-altering substances provide with manifested trickery.

Watching the three-part documentary, Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez, that recently premiered on Netflix was an excruciating experience.

It held me hostage from start to finish.

Director Geno McDermott sat down with Rolling Stone magazine to discuss the procedural aspects of the ambitious project, that began when the late football star and “tight end” for the New England Patriots was still alive.

McDermott never got the chance to interview Hernandez because the planned attempt to make contact with Hernandez, who had just been spared the worst outcome in his second trial for the 2012 shooting deaths of Daniel Jorge Correia de Abreu, and Safiro Teixeira Furtado, in Boston, was aborted when the unfathomable transpired.

Hernandez took his own life in his prison cell at a Correctional Center in Massachusetts, a few days after he was acquitted of the double homicide that occurred near a local nightclub in Boston’s South End. It was a shock to his attorney, Jose Baez, who shared the optimism of the last conversation he had with his high-profile client, who was energized about the prospect of a future appeal in the case of Odin Lloyd.

Lloyd was a 27-year-old, semi-professional footballer, who was born in Saint Croix and moved with his family to Dorchester, Massachusetts after spending some years in Antigua. He also happened to be dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee and mother of his only child, at the time of his murder.

In the early summer of 2013, Lloyd’s bullet-ridden body was discovered in an industrial park in North Attleborough, Massachusetts. Some days later, Hernandez was apprehended at his home by the police, after a warrant for his arrest was issued in connection to the killing. On August 22, 2013, the once bright, shining star of the Patriots, was indicted for the brutal murder of Odin Lloyd.

Killer Insider definitely takes you deep inside the ill-fated creation of the American Dream, which began in the fragmented household that was under the terrifying influence of Dennis Hernandez, an abusive father with a penchant for petty crimes. Terri Valentine-Hernandez, an Italian-American, was frequently at the receiving end of her husband’s drunken rages, in full view of Aaron and his older brother D.J.

Both boys were exposed to unfiltered violence very early, and were also recipients of the hostility, even though it was fashioned as their father’s disciplinary preference, as someone who was arrested enough times to know that he didn’t want the same life of crime for his impressionable sons.

When Dennis Hernandez died unexpectedly after hernia surgery in 2006, his youngest son was only 16, which is a devastating age to lose the man you loved and respected despite his damaging shortcomings.

Geno McDermott carves out the narrative of how things began to go downhill for Hernandez, once he lost the built-in structure that his late father had established for the sake of keeping his boys in check.

Hernandez started hanging out with the wrong crowd, and his fragile relationship with his mom began to drastically break down, to the point that he sought shelter and comfort with his older cousin Tanya Singleton.

There are tons of big reveals in this insightful and unbearably tragic docuseries, but the main item that sticks out has to be the heartbreak of utter betrayal at the hands of those who were supposed to love and protect you unconditionally.

The awfulness of having a parent who never chooses the child’s safety and contentment over anything or anyone, who threatens that unshakable bond is the bad luck that never fails to reap dire ramifications for the abandoned soul, who is forced to hunt for ways to fill that gaping hole.

Interestingly enough, Hernandez’s mother Terri found love with the dude who was married to the cousin he moved in with, and was extremely close to, and the lovebirds moved in together.

This was an understandably tumultous period for Hernandez, who was beyond pissed at the audacity of his mother’s decision to unapologetically allow her new lover to move into the space she shared with his deceased father

It was while Hernandez was living with his cousin Tanya, who used to be married to the man who was now shacking up with his mother, that he began to exhibit traits that foreshadowed what was to come in the realm of periodic lawlessness.

McDermott does a great job of linking timelines that carefully track the beginning stages of the demonic takeover, and how the multitude of layers peeled off to showcase the rawness of anger and pain, that absolutely takes root from the epicenter of gross negligence and abuse.

Viewers get enough information to form an opinion about a cold-blooded killer, whose cavalier instincts before and after his reprehensible actions sends a chill down the spine of those of us who can’t relate to that level of vileness.

It’s unacceptable to find redeeming qualities in a raving monster, who chose to express his damning insecurities and tormented status by relying on extreme measures, that irrevocably destroyed the family members of his innocent victims, who were senselessly gunned down.

My empathy for Aaron Hernandez comes from the validation of his childhood trauma at the hands of incompetent parents who assumed that their questionable motives would be received without scars.

Watching your drunk father smash your mother’s head against the wall until she passes out isn’t the kind of environment that breeds well-adjusted kids, who don’t carry the residue of normalized dysfunction.

Weirdly enough, we hear so much about how Hernandez worshipped his father, and how that loss inadvertently led to the downward spiral that couldn’t be halted. But we can’t dismiss how that unconditional love for an abusive parent can be romanticized when we are too young and jaded to comprehend what those misplaced emotions really mean.

And at the crux of a broken-hearted young man, who battled the conflicts of an alleged double-life as the brimming image of a star football player, oozing the virile effects of pure masculinity, with the collision of hidden homosexuality that very few knew about — was the heartrending scorn of an embattled mother whose love was callously conditional.

Aside from the background story, there’s the blatant evidence in the form of jailhouse calls between Aaron Hernandez and his mother Terri, where the son finally confronts the spiteful woman who could’ve done a lot more to save his life, but opted to selfishly keep her back turned away from the unfolding disaster.

In a very telling exchange, Terri berates her superstar son for failing to gift her with a million dollars right after he signed his epic $40 million dollar deal with the New England Patriots. Hernandez fires back with the obvious reasons why his mother was underserving of that honor.

In another call, Hernandez seizes the opportunity to challenge his mother about her unforgivable quest to barely do the bare minimum, when it came to caring for his special needs as a child, who needed supervision and extra care for the mental disorder that he accused his mother of ignoring, which inevitably affected his performance in school.

One of the last calls was particularly jarring, as we hear the deep hurt in Hernandez’s voice, as he eerily predicts how the unresolved issues with his mother will remain that way because of her inability, all through the years, to form a tangible connection with the son who ultimately died with a hole in his heart.

“There’s so many things I would love to talk to you [about], so you can know me as a person. But I never could tell you. And you’re gonna die without even knowing your son.”

Dennis Hernandez Jr. appears in Killer Inside, and provides the first-hand information of the often times turbulent childhood that he endured with his younger brother. He recounts the suspicion of how his younger brother was sexually abused by a teenage boy when he was only six, and how it continued for a quite awhile.

There’s the delivered presumption that the molestation seemingly preordained Hernandez’s confusion with his sexuality especially when it came to his attraction to men. This ideology can be problematic for reasons that explain the trials and tribulations of the LGBTQ community.

Either way, it’s clear that Aaron Hernandez, like so many functioning survivors of acute trauma that begins in the home, and develops with our advancements into a world that tends to exaggerate vulnerabilities, was sadly unfortunate in his inability to outrun his demons.

A coach noticed the black eye, and assumed that it was from his father, but never bothered to inquire further. When Hernandez got into trouble while playing for the University of Florida, the methods of setting him straight was to ensure that his bad behavior would be finessed accordingly. And the exact same routine was applied by the management for the Patriots, who did what had to be done to keep their moneymaker secure and profitable.

After his death by suicide, the family of the late convicted murderer, agreed to donate his brain to researchers at Boston University, and that was how his neurodegenerative disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, was officially diagnosed.

The symptoms of the disease that’s caused by multiple head injuries, include behavioral deficiencies and “mood problems,” which can be readily attributed to the inexplainable horrors that were devised by Hernandez, who was uncontrollably dangerous.

This isn’t an attempt to humanize a beast whose legacy will forever be blemished by his notable inhumanness.

It’s simply a glaring reminder of how childhood trauma almost always becomes the undoing of the sufferer, if left unchecked. It’s the frightening prospect for those of us who have experienced sexual violence at an early age, but never sought the help we desperately need because we want to believe we can make it.

Aaron Hernandez didn’t stand a chance. The adults in his midst either exacted pain, or conveniently turned a blind eye to the open wounds.

It forces me to recall the murder of the helpless Black and Brown adopted kids by two unhinged and abusive White women. They both exploited the season of “wokeness” by parading the misleading image of “one love,” while starving and abusing their victims before killing them.

Concerned neighbors did nothing, despite witnessing the physical toll of the environment that these kids were forced to accommodate.

Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez is worth your time if you dare submit yourself to the graphic display of what happens when terrorized children grow up to be terrorizers.

It’s also the cue to stop running because we’ve already been caught.

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