Olivia Thibou had been looking forward to sleeping in on her day off. But at 6:53 a.m., her cell phone started vibrating. She ignored it at first, but it wouldn’t stop.
She reached for her phone and saw the caller ID: “Shaneah — My Little Part of Odin.” That is how she refers to Shaneah Jenkins, the former girlfriend of her brother, Odin Lloyd. The two women had become close—they call each other “sisters”—since Lloyd’s death in 2013. Two years later, former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was found guilty of Lloyd’s murder and sentenced to life without parole.
“I’m thinking, ‘It’s my day off. Why are you calling me this early?'” Thibou tells B/R Mag. “She never calls me that early.”
She didn’t answer, but a thought kept nibbling away: What if there were some sort of emergency?
So Thibou called Jenkins back. That’s when she heard the news: Hernandez had apparently hanged himself in his prison cell and died Wednesday.
“I just started crying,” Thibou says. “I’m just…confused. It doesn’t make sense. The timing doesn’t make any sense.”
Five days ago, Hernandez was acquitted of double murder in a case involving two men in Boston. Hernandez wept in court as the verdict was read. And although he was serving a life sentence for Lloyd’s murder, Hernandez was scheduled to appeal that verdict. There was nothing outwardly pointing toward any inward despair.
Thibou declined to say whether Jenkins—the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez, who took the name despite never officially marrying Hernandez—had spoken to her sibling about Hernandez’s suicide. The sisters were close; Shaneah had stayed at Hernandez’s house in the days following Lloyd’s murder, and Hernandez had assured her he would help catch Lloyd’s killer. But the relationship broke down after Hernandez was charged with Lloyd’s murder. In the stilted conversations they shared since then, the siblings avoided talking about anything to do with Lloyd or Hernandez.
Thibou says she wants to take a couple of days before she publicly speaks about her reaction to Hernandez’s death. The news adds a new layer to her family’s grief, one they have yet to fully understand. Thibou says she was still coming down from the emotion brought on by last Friday’s “not guilty” verdict for Hernandez in the double homicide case, which caused her to relive the angst brought on by her brother’s trial.