When one looks at murder cases, one tends to focus either on the murderer or the victim. But the real tragedy is experienced by the survivors of the victim as their entire lives shatter before them. Nothing can ever prepare us for something like that.
Netflix’s latest true crime docuseries, ‘Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez’ is one of those rare documentaries that lets us inside that tragedy, while obviously focusing on Hernandez’s own life and struggles. It presents various sides of the story and manages to remain sensitive to them all. ‘Killer Inside’ does this brilliantly well by weaving together a spiderweb of narratives which include photographs, footage and recordings, as well as responses of the ones whose lives were impacted.
During high-profile murder cases like this one, all the attention usually shifts to the murderer, which is in our case, Hernandez, the former NFL star. It is easier to forget the survivors who continue to live the tragedy for the rest of their lives. It was heartbreaking to see Odin’s mother and his girlfriend during the trial. Their struggles shouldn’t be forgotten. What happened to Ursula Ward and Sheneah Jenkins? Here’s everything we know.
Ursula and Odin
Odin Lloyd was born in Saint Croix, the U.S. Virgin Islands to Ursula and John Lloyd. He was their first child and only son. The family then moved to Antigua and eventually to Dorchester, Massachusetts, where they continue to live. He also had two sisters, Olivia Thibou and Shaquilla Thibou. When Odin was murdered by Hendez, he used to live with his mother and sisters in Dorchester. He was also a semi-professional football player for the Boston Bandits. A neighbour of the family, Genevor, mentioned, “That’s her only son. She’s a loving mother. … Yes, we are in the ’hood, but she works hard and raised a good man.”
Ursula and the rest of the family were immensely close to Odin. His death was a huge shock for the family, when the police found his body in North Attleborough in 2013. Ursula has been grieving her son and suffering from the consequences of his death from moment the police rang her doorbell to inform her about her son’s death.
Shaneah and Odin
Shaneah Jenkins was in a serious relationship with Odin Lloyd and it can be assumed that Lloyd knew Aaron through her. She is the sister of Aaron’s fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, and his daughter Avielle’s aunt. Shaneah is three years younger than her sister, and also attended Bristol Central High School like Shayanna and Jenkins.
Shaneah lived and worked in Connecticut while Lloyd was from Dorchester. But their paths crossed when Lloyd came to Connecticut for work:
“It was at the hotel I worked at. He came down to work and they stayed there. I worked overnight shifts. He would come down and keep me company. Yeah, it was a little awkward…But he would just come down and talk to me literally for my entire shift. He wouldn’t sleep.”
The two soon began to date, and often hung out with Aaron and Shayanna, and even go on trips together. Jenkins learned about Odin’s murder through a phone call she received the morning after his death which had a devastating effect on her.
— susan candiotti (@susancandiotti) May 9, 2017
The trial was a particularly distressing period for the two women who found family in each other due to the common loss they were experiencing. It was during the trial that Shaneah, in a way, lost her own sister, who she was once very close to. Shayanna chose to side with Hernandez, the alleged murderer. It was reported that when Shaneah learned about Odin’s death she immediately went to Shayanna’s place. But things took a drastic turn when all evidence pointed towards Hernandez and within days, he was arrested for Odin’s murder. The sisters have been estranged ever since, and even used to sit on opposite sides during the trial.
— Christina Hager (@HagerWBZ) April 15, 2015
It was devastating to even look at Ursula Ward during the trial, especially the time she was called to identify her son but was told “not to cry”. But she is one fierce mother, who fought till she felt that justice was served to her son. Ursula and Shaneah sat next to each other during the verdict and breathed a sigh of relief as Aaron was convicted. Ward stated that she had already forgiven Aaron:
“I forgive the hands of the people that had a hand in my son’s murder, either before or after. And I pray and hope that someday, everyone out there will forgive them also.”
Abatement ab initio
Due to abatement ab initio in Massachusetts, Aaron’s suicide during the time erased his conviction because of his appeal. These were deeply troubled times for the victim’s family. Ward had suffered a lot after Odin’s death, and even after Aaron’s conviction, including how she nearly lost her home.
With the help of her attorney, Douglas Sheff, she filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Hernandez. She stated,”It’s not about the civil case. It’s about my son, Odin Lloyd. It’s about families that lost their loved ones, and we need justice”.
But it was ultimately the abatement that raised serious questions the judge’s verdict and the outdated law. District Attorney Tom Quinn said, “It defies common sense to allow a defendant to be absolved of criminal liability so carefully arrived at by a jury because he intentionally took his own life before the appeals process could run. By his suicide, the defendant waives his right to appeal.”
Ursula spoke of how she was not angry with the ruling, “In our book, he’s guilty, and he’s going to be always be guilty”. But this made unable to properly grieve her son as she felt that the justice that was served was taken back from them.
“…As the process says, it goes to the beginning, as if it never even happened. I feel as if Odin has not been able to rest in peace, and I have not been able to properly grieve my son.”
Finally, in 2019, the jury concluded that the doctrine of abatement ab initio is outdated, and Hernandez conviction was restored.
Where are Ursula Ward and Shaneah Jenkins Now?
It has been over a year since we last heard about Ursula Ward and Shaneah Jenkins. But we have reason to believe that Jenkins found family in Warn and her daughters. In fact, Odin’s sister, Shaquilla, went on to say that Shaneah is her sister. In fact, she first learned about Aaron’s suicide from Shaneah. Since there have been no updates on their lives, we can assume that Ward still lives with her family in Fayston Street, Dorchester, while Jenkins continues to live in Connecticut.