Shayanna Jenkins is the former tight end's high school sweetheart, and the mother of his 4-year-old daughter.
Speaking to Dr. Phil McGraw in her first TV interview since Hernandez's suicide in his prison cell, she revealed that when news of his death reached her, she thought someone was playing a prank.
“At first I thought it was a hoax,” she said. “I thought that this was a cruel person playing a trick on me!”
Hernandez was found hanging by his bedsheet at 3 a.m. on April 19, prison authorities said he left three suicide notes.
But Jenkins told Dr. Phil that when she spoke to him just hours earlier, he was in good spirits and confident of one day being released.
“He was very positive, so excited to come home,” she said. “He was like, ‘Daddy is coming home. I can't wait to sleep in the bed with you guys, hold you.’ As far as I know, I was the last person to speak to him.”
She recalled that his last words to her were: “I gotta go. They're shutting the doors."
She added: "I honestly don’t think we said, 'I love you,' and that was it. There was no monumental goodbyes, no finality in what he was saying."
““She flat-out does not believe this was suicide,” Dr. Phil told Inside Edition.
She also addressed reports that Hernandez had a secret life as a gay man and even had a lover while incarcerated.
"She asked him about that specifically, she asked him straight up, 'Is this true?' She said she never saw any indication of this in their relationship. He flat-out denied it," Dr. Phil said.
The interview airs Monday and Tuesday on Dr. Phil.