If you are a regular reader of my blog then you know I have particular feelings when it comes to the truly mentally ill as well as the way they are dealt with in society long before there is ever a crime committed. In the same respect I am definitely not a fan of those who imply someone is mentally ill to get them out of a crime. But, how do we determine mentally ill and what can be defined as such is more of a touchy line that is often jumped over. What I mean by this is someone with bi-polar disorder is generally classified as mentally ill, but what about someone who has psychopath or sociopathic behaviors? Do they also classify as mentally ill? Both of the latter diagnosis' are basically the same with the psychopath being of more severe quality. And, like many mental illnesses it is technically not wise to diagnose anyone under the age of eighteen with any one of these diseases despite the fact that the signs are there. Much of that has to do with not wanting to diagnose a young child and by the time they are in their teens it is difficult to tell if they are moody because of a disorder or just simply because they are teenagers. That does not mean that there are not young children, or people under eighteen that suffer from mental illness or any of the other aforementioned behaviors, but there is even less “professional help” available. That all being said I cannot say in which category the case of Tyler Hadley falls into. There were allegations made that he suffered from mental illness but to be fair I am unsure that anyone truly believed that before he committed a horrendous crime. That is not to say that there were not those that thought he had some issues but I just cannot say to what extent they thought those issues were.
On July 16, 2011 seventeen year old Tyler Hadley threw a house party at his home in Port St. Lucie Florida. He had been telling his friends that he planned to have one but never really seemed certain as to the timing or even if he could. Many of those who knew Tyler did not even believe the party would come to fruition because they knew that as of late Tyler's parents, Blake and Mary Jo, had been particularly strict on Tyler. Around 8:00 that night Tyler posted on his Facebook that he was indeed having the party. One person asked him how this was going to be possible and what about his parents. He assured them his parents would not return and bust the party. Over the course of the evening nearly sixty teenagers “invaded” the Hadley home, many never even knowing Tyler.
Port St. Lucie was established in the 1960's almost exclusively as a retirement town. There was little for children, let alone teenagers to do. The town was full of retirement homes, Bingo halls and golf courses. Over the course of time many families had moved into the area, including the Hadley's but the town did not necessarily adapt to the changing of their residents. As a result there were a lot of bored teens in Port St. Lucie and petty crime rates, such as burglaries and vandalism rose. Another issue began in the 1990's when homes were being sold at a very low rate and with much of the “town” undeveloped drug dealers, many from nearby Miami, were swiping up the homes and using them for what authorities called “pot farm houses.” In 2006 sixty-nine of these such homes were busted but it seemed to do little to curb the growing issues of teenagers using marijuana in the area.
Most say that Tyler seemed to be a normal, quiet, obedient child until he reached his teenage years and got into drugs and alcohol. Although there were a few reports it seems of a bit abnormal behavior and explosive anger from him from as early as ten years old. By the time he became a teenager and complained about his parents to others , complaints that often included threats, few seemed to take him seriously. I mean, what teenager does not complain about their parents especially when they are being disciplined? Some would later say they thought Tyler's reaction was a bit overboard like when he told people he was going to kill his mother because she had taken his cell phone. Although it seems despite early warnings from other parents to Blake and Mary Jo about possible drug use were not taken super seriously, it does seem that eventually they discovered there was a problems. Within the several months leading up to July of 2011 they had sought psychiatric treatment as well as outpatient substance abuse treatment for their son. And yet, it appears that the Hadley's as well as others seemed to believe for the most part that things were better with Tyler. And then came July 16th.
As the kids began going to the Hadley home things progressively got worse. In the beginning it was said Tyler did not want anyone smoking inside the home. He later changed that as the home was being ruined.... things were spilled here and there, carpets were getting burn holes, holes were being made in walls. As time went on Tyler seemed more concerned with keeping the noise at a minimum to avoid neighbors from calling the police. At some point throughout the night Tyler told his friend, Michael Mandell he wanted to talk to him and he two went outside and walked a bit down the street. It was here that Tyler told Michael that he had killed his parents earlier in the evening before throwing the party. Michael would tell authorities and newspapers later that he did not believe his friend even after Tyler pointed out that he should look at the driveway where Michael would see both Blake and Mary Jo's vehicles. They returned to the home and Tyler took Michael to the master bedroom where Michael peeked in and saw the carnage. For his part Michael did not immediately leave the party and inform someone but stay for about another hour, even taking a few pictures with Tyler. It is said that the word got out by “word of mouth” from those at the party and by the following morning Tyler was under arrest and the bodies of his parents were recovered.
Tyler would eventually plead guilty, although there seemingly was not any sort of “deal” made as we often see. In this case, because Tyler was a minor at the time of the crime he was not eligible for the death penalty so basically there was only a sentencing hearing in which the judge heard details about the crime and from family members and witnesses. According to statements from Tyler he took three pills of ecstasy around 5 pm on the day of the murders but not before he hid his parents' cell phones to prevent them from being able to call for help. He then attacked his mother with a claw hammer while she sat at her computer desk. Blake could hear Mary Jo screaming and went running into the room. It was then that Tyler went after his father with the claw hammer. When it was all over Tyler moved their bodies into the master bedroom and spent the next three hours cleaning the house. He threw towels and other items that he had used to clean up in the bedroom with the bodies of his parents. At his sentencing Tyler's older brother, Ryan, stated that despite the fact that he and his brother were extremely close growing up despite their six year age difference he felt Tyler deserved the maximum sentence allowed. Defense attorneys pointed to supposed “mental illness” suffered by Tyler but it is unclear if they had much to back this theory.
In 2014 Tyler Hadley was sentenced to two life sentences without the possibility of parole. In April of 2016 the sentence was overturned, as so many pertaining to minors have been in recent years but as of now Tyler has not been re-sentenced. An article published in May of 2017 stated that there have been several delays in this process and from my understanding they are coming from the defense asking for more time. They are now looking at experts to testify about alleged mental illness as well as the issue of long prison terms given to minors.
The Hadley home was demolished in April of 2015. Currently Tyler remains in prison and while he has vocalized remorse while in court has had at least a few discipline issues in prison including having possession of a homemade weapon.
Some could argue that Tyler Hadley does have mental issues; some could argue he is a sociopath who had no true remorse and guilt for his actions; and some could argue that he was a child of privileged whose parents did not take the upper hand until it was too late. Regardless of the reasons two people lost their lives to their flesh and blood who not only attacked them in cold blood in their own home, but threw a party to celebrate.