Tyler Hadley was described by neighbors and friends as having a close relationship with his parents growing up. Tyler and his father were often seen playing basketball together in their Port St. Lucie driveway until late in the night or tossing a football around in the yard. Nothing about the family or Tyler seemed atypical. That would all change when Tyler entered high school.
Something had happened to the boy who neighbors once described as a polite young man. Tyler began acting out in school and getting into drugs. The sort of trouble many suburban teens are prone to become involved in. Of course the Hadley’s were concerned with their son’s behavior, but after Tyler had a couple run-ins with the law – once for burglary and once for setting a wildlife preserve on fire – it was clear that something needed to be done.
The Hadleys had Tyler regularly attending meetings with a psychologist and believed that they had Tyler back on the right track. It wouldn’t be long before Tyler fell back into his out of control behavior. The Hadleys were at the end of their rope. Even after getting Tyler help he continued to come home drunk and had been arrested for battery after getting into a brawl at a friend’s home.
Doing what any responsible parents would do in that situation, the Hadleys took away Tyler’s phone and electronics while he served out his court ordered house arrest for the fight. Tyler’s behavior only became more erratic and in June of 2011 the Hadleys were forced to commit their son to a mental health facility. Though often at odds with his parents, Tyler seemed to have a Jekyll and Hyde personality. After the explosive fights with The Hadleys, Tyler would sometimes feel bad about the incidents. He confided in a number of friends that he was suicidal. On other occasions he mentioned wanting to kill his parents. No one took his threats seriously, in their minds he was just a troubled kid blowing off steam.
On July 15, 2011 the Hadley’s all went out to a family dinner. Tyler’s stay in the mental health facility and his daily counselor visits seemed to have made a big impact on the teen. Mrs. Hadley had told friends weeks prior that she felt as if she finally had the old Tyler back and that she was happy to see her son was making such an improvement.
The following day Tyler contacted several Facebook friends. He told them that his parents had went out of town and he was going to throw a big party that evening. That night nearly 60 teenagers showed up to the Hadley residence, many of which Tyler didn’t even know personally. Among the friends there that evening was Tyler’s best friend, Michael Mandell.
As dozens of teenagers swarmed the Hadleys’ Port Lucie home, drinking, smoking pot and generally trashing the place, Tyler became more pensive. He had to let his secret out to someone. He pulled Michael aside and decided to come clean. His parents weren’t in Orlando, as he had originally told Michael. They were dead and the bodies were still in their bedroom as the party raged on throughout the rest of the home.
Tyler told Michael everything. How he had swallowed three ecstasy pills, hid his parents cellphones, and then waited with a hammer. Tyler’s mother, Mary Jo, was the first to be struck. As he savagely beat Mary Jo in the head with the hammer, Tyler’s father, Blake, heard the commotion. When he walked into the room to find Tyler beating Mary Jo all he could scream was “Why?” Tyler looked at his father blankly and replied “Why the fuck not?”, before swigging the hammer at Blake. He then detailed how he cleaned up the blood before the party. Tyler then left both the Hadleys, the hammer, and the towels he had used to clean up the mess in the master bedroom.
Initially Michael believed that Tyler was joking and told him to show him the bodies. Tyler agreed and led Michael to the Hadley’s bedroom. Outside of the master bedroom door were streaks of blood. Tyler opened the door just enough for Michael to catch a glimpse of Mr. Hadley’s leg on the bedroom floor. It was that moment that Michael realized Tyler had been telling the truth.
Tyler also told Michael that he was planning to kill himself. Shocked at what his friend had told him, Michael stayed at the party for a few more hours, even taking the time to pose for a few selfies. During the party, Tyler told other partygoers how he had planned on killing himself and that he was probably going to be going away for a while. Many found Tyler’s statements to be bizarre, but laughed them off and continued to party on at the residence, unaware that the bodies of the Hadley’s were just feet away from them.
At around 2:30am the neighbors had called the police to bust up the party. Most of the teens had left, but there were still at least 20 kids at the house when officers knocked on the door. Tyler answered the door as the rest of the party was ordered to keep quiet in a back bedroom. Tyler spoke with the police and they left without an incident. Michael left the party, but not before hiding the 10 tablets of percocet Tyler planned to use to kill himself with on his way out.
Once Michael made it home he immediately phoned Crimestoppers in order to report the murder. Meanwhile, Tyler logged into Facebook and notified his friends that there would be another party at his house the following night. The visit from the police about the noise complaint earlier had caused Tyler to become paranoid and the lingering few partiers said that Tyler began acting strangely. He turned off the lights in the home and checked all the blinds, as if the police were outside watching his every move. Tyler was right to be afraid.
Tyler was witnessed by officers pacing the living room while talking to himself and frantically moving stacks of books as they ascended the driveway at 4:23am. Investigators rang the bell and several minutes later Tyler answered the door. He knew he was caught. Police took Tyler into custody and left him in the driveway as they forced opened the master bedroom door. Inside the room laid the Hadleys. Both bludgeoned to death with a hammer by their own son.
Tyler pleaded no contest for the murder of both his parents. He claimed that he had been hearing voices and had spoken with the devil. In a letter to his best friend Michael, Tyler blames his psychotic break on a prescription medication he had been taking at the time. Though Tyler was only 17-years-old at the time he savagely murdered his own parents, the judge showed no leniency. Tyler Hadley was handed two life sentences.