Netflix released a chilling three-part documentary about convicted murderer and former NFL tight end Aaron Hernandez on Jan. 14 that analyzed his life and crimes, as well as how repeated NFL injuries and childhood trauma may have impacted his brain. Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez is the first in-depth coverage the public has gotten since Hernandez's 2017 suicide, and it adds multiple layers to the story.
Three years after beginning his promising NFL career with the New England Patriots, Hernandez murdered Odin Lloyd. He and two other men were tried for the crime, and all three were convicted in Massachusetts courts. While the case seemed to be open-and-shut with the abundance of evidence (including footage from Hernandez's home security system and DNA evidence), there were more people involved in the crime.
Aaron Hernandez's cousin, Tanya Singleton, tried to help Hernandez's accomplices shortly after Lloyd was murdered. Her involvement was largely covered in the documentary, and her close relationship with her cousin may have contributed to the chain of events.
It is believed that Hernandez became more violent following his father's death and Singleton's divorce — which occurred due to her husband's extramarital affair with Hernandez's mother. This served as a potential culmination of multiple years' worth of Hernandez's issues and violence.
Who is Tanya Singleton? Find out about her involvement in the case, and how the problems in her own life led to Hernandez's downward spiral.
Who is Aaron Hernandez's cousin Tanya Singleton?
Though her name might not be as known when it comes to the murder of Lloyd, Tanya Singleton was integral in the case against Aaron Hernandez. At the time when Hernandez went on trial in April of 2015, Singleton was 38 years old, and she was battling breast cancer. She wore a black, sparkled headscarf and an all-black outfit, almost in mourning for Hernandez, at his trial.
While on the stand at her cousin's trial, Singleton defied the law and refused to testify against him. Many found the move shocking, as Singleton had two young sons, and her refusal to testify led to her arrest. She was essentially the only person in Hernandez's inner circle who had unwavering loyalty to him.
She was later given probation, partly due to the extent of her cancer treatment, for her lack of testimony.
In the Netflix documentary, prison phone calls between Hernandez and Singleton were played. In one of these calls, Hernandez tells her that she means "the world" to him.
"I can't live without you," Hernandez later says in the call.
Hernandez's tight-knit bond with Singleton really formed after the 2006 death of his father, Dennis Hernandez. His mother, Terri Hernandez, had an affair with Singleton's husband, Jeff Cummings, which led Aaron Hernandez down a path of increased violence. It also served as the beginning of his criminal activity.
After Singleton's divorce, Cummings moved into the home Aaron Hernandez had been sharing with his mother. This angered the then-teen, and he moved in with his cousin to escape.
Terry Hernandez later married and divorced Cummings.
"[Singleton] was probably one of the people closest to Aaron. She was his cousin, they had grown up together, and they had a very complicated relationship, Maria Cramer, from The Boston Globe said. "She was a key figure in the investigation because she became someone who knew a lot about what happened in the days following Odin Lloyd's death."
Singleton's sister, Jennifer "Gina" Mercado, testified during Hernandez's trial that the two got very close following his mom's affair.
"She was like a mom figure to him... and he was like a son to her."
According to the documentary, Singleton's house was less structured than the one Hernandez had grown up in. Sources claimed that Hernandez was exposed to more partying and people who were criminals. He also met his future co-conspirators, Ernest "Bo" Wallace and Carlos Ortiz "Charley Boy," there.
Once Hernandez committed the murder on June 18, 2013, authorities soon determined that Wallace and Ortiz were involved. Singleton aided in trying to get Hernandez's accomplices out of trouble.
"Prosecutors say that Singleton tried to help both men get away after Lloyd's death, driving Ernest Wallace to Georgia and buying him a bus ticket to Florida," a news reporter read in a voiceover during the doc.
She also tried to help Carlos Ortiz with fleeing the country to Puerto Rico.
The biggest bombshell from the police's initial search into Singleton was that her car was being looked at in connection to a 2012 double homicide in South Boston.
Tanya Singleton went to jail for refusing to testify against Aaron Hernandez.
Perhaps the greatest test of Tanya Singleton's loyalty was when she went to extreme lengths in order to avoid going against her cousin while battling cancer again. When the car in her driveway (which was believed to have really belonged to Hernandez) was linked to the double murder of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, Singleton would not say where the car came from.
When she went on trial for contempt as a result of refusing to talk, she was battling cancer for the second time. She had difficulty moving around the courtroom when taking the stand, and she had to stay connected to an oxygen tank.
"Rather than answer one single question about the car or how it got into her garage, she took the contempt [charge] and she ended up going to jail for a number of months. It had a disastrous effect on her cancer treatment," said Suffolk County District Attorney Patrick Haggan.
Where is Tanya Singleton today?
Singleton's breast cancer was terminal,and she passed away in her home in October of 2015. According to reports, Hernandez was gutted about his cousin's passing. He was heard crying about it on prison calls to his fiancee Shayanna Jenkins.
Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez is now available to stream on Netflix.