On July 16, 2011, Tyler Hadley stabbed and beat his parents to death with a hammer. Three hours after the murders of Blake and Mary Jo Hadley, their 17-year-old son threw a house party while the crime scene lay undiscovered behind the master bedroom door.
The Hadley Family
The Hadley Family lived just outside of Port St. Lucie, Florida, in a Fort Pierce neighborhood. Blake worked as a Watch Engineer at the St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant while Mary Jo was a well-respected elementary school teacher. They had been married for 25 years. Their 23-year-old son, Ryan, had moved to North Carolina to attend college.
Tyler Hadley was a student at St. Lucie High School. He only had a handful of friends, not being widely known by the student body. Hadley had struggled with his mental health and started seeing doctors since age 10. He had formed a drug addiction during his late teen years, taking Xanax, Percocet, Oxycodone, ecstasy, DMT, and drinking alcohol. His parents had become increasingly strict with him due to his developing erratic behavior and growing drug addiction. They enrolled him in a substance abuse program.
On April 10, 2011, Hadley got into a fight while at a friend’s house and was arrested and charged with aggravated battery. He spent a week in the county jail and was placed on house arrest.
In June 2011, Hadley’s parents invoked the Baker Act. Which meant that a parent could have their child committed to involuntary psychiatric treatment if they were under the age of 18.
At some point in the two weeks before the murders Hadley set the River Park Wildlife Preserve on fire with some friends. The group set an abandoned couch on fire which extended to the trees. They all got off with a warning.
On July 2 Hadley had a conversation on Facebook, after his mom took his phone away.
Tyler Hadley: lol yup shes a cunt fa sho i might kill her
Mercedes Maxine Marko: Omg no jail!! Or I mean prison! Lol
Tyler Hadley: oh well <3
July 16, 2011
For weeks leading up to the murders, Hadley had casually mentioned how he had wanted to kill his parents. He was angry with his mother for confiscating his cell phone, which just added to his growing disdain. No one believed him.
During the week of July 10, 2011, Hadley had been bragging to his friends and other classmates that he was planning a party for the upcoming weekend. It was known that Hadley’s parents were strict, so as the week progressed, no one believed him. He continued to spread the rumor that his parents were going to be out of town, which allowed him to throw the house party.
At 9:40 a.m the following conversation took place:
Matt Nobile: did u do it
Tyler Hadley: no but im gonna
Matt Nobile: bet?
Matt Nobile: u really should now
Matt Nobile: do it
Tyler Hadley: dont worry i am
Tyler Hadley: then im having a party
Matt Nobile: yeah party time nigga!
At 11:25 a.m., on the morning of Saturday, July 16, 2011, the following Facebook conversation took place:
Tyler Hadley: sup bra
Antonio Ramirez: Chillen what you doin tonight?
Tyler Hadley: tryin to have a party at my crib
Antonio Ramirez: Your parents ain’t home?
Tyler Hadley: nope
Tyler Hadley: well their leasvin soon
Then at 12:15 p.m., Hadley posted a message on his Facebook page: “party at my crib tonight… maybe”. (Photo above)
At 8:15 p.m. Hadley posted another message on his Facebook page, stating “party at my house… hmu ”. (“hmu” means hit me up)
People began showing up and so did the drugs and alcohol. Before the end of the night, more than a hundred people had been partying and destroying the Hadley house.
Tyler Hadley’s Confession
Michael Mandell had been friends with Hadley since they were 8-years-old. At around 1:00 a.m., during the party, Hadley pulled Michael to the side and confessed what he had done. Not believing his friend, Hadley showed him a bloody shoe print in the garage before. He took Michael to the master bedroom. When he unlocked the bedroom door, Michael saw dining-room chairs along with a white leg sticking out from under a large pile of blood-soaked towels.
Hadley explained to Michael that earlier that afternoon, at around 5:00 p.m., he took three Ecstasy pills and then hid his parents’ cell phones so they couldn’t call for help. He found a 17-inch framing (claw) hammer in the garage. He stood behind his mother, Mary Jo, for five minutes while she worked on the computer. He then struck his mother in the head several times, killing her. His father, came into the room to investigate the noise and discovered what Hadley had done. He asked Hadley “Why?” Hadley responded, “Why the f**k not?” Hadley then attacked his father with the hammer, killing him as well.
Hadley moved all the evidence into his parents’ bedroom, which included broken dishes, broken glass, books, dining room chairs, a coffee table, a sponge mop, a canister of coffee grounds, bloody towels and pillowcases. He then wrapped his parents’ heads in towels and moved their bodies into their bedroom and locked the door. He finished cleaning up the crime scene, took a shower and sent out the invite for the house party. Before his guests arrived, Hadley visited an ATM, withdrawing $5,000. He picked up a few friends (which he had flashed the cash in front of) and returned to his house.
Knowing that Hadley would go to prison, Michael took a few selfie photos with Hadley as a sort of final goodbye. By 2:00 a.m., most of the partygoers left to go to another party, but because of the noise, a neighbor had called the police. When they arrived, Hadley had the remaining people hide. The police found nothing out of sorts. The party resumed after the police left the Hadley house. At some point, Michael placed a call to the Crimestoppers hotline and relayed the confession that Hadley had told him and explained what he had witnessed himself.
At 4:42 a.m. Crimestoppers received an anonymous tip. The caller told the operator that his friend Tyler Hadley had used a hammer to kill his parents and gave them the address of his house.
Police arrived at the Hadley residence around 4:32 a.m. and saw two cars in the driveway, registered to Mary Jo and Blake Hadley. They saw a light on and through the window, they saw a person walking. The person identified as Tyler Hadley was grabbing books from the front of the house and bringing them to a back bedroom. The police knocked on the door and nobody answered. About 5 minutes later, the lights went off in the house.
Police called for backup. While waiting, Hadley opened the door in a strange psychotic state; his pupils were dilated, he was talking fast, and “appeared to have a blank star”. While talking to officers, Hadley had his hand near his waistline, causing police to detain them for their safety. They then entered the home to check on the welfare of Mr. and Mrs. Hadley. They entered the destroyed home. There were beer cans and tobacco on the floor of the house. Police made their way to the parent’s locked bedroom. Hadley denied having access to it, telling officers his parents were in West Palm Beach and he could not get in touch with them.
An officered observed what he thought was blood on the doorframe. Another officer could get the door open by turning the knob hard enough. The officers saw a large pool of blood. They began searching the room, which was filled with furniture from the house. They got to the closet and discovered the family dog was locked in it. After moving some more of the furniture from the room, they discovered Blake and Mary Jo Hadley in their bedroom.
The chief medical examiner of the 19th Judicial Circuit-Florida, Dr. Robert E. Mittleman determined that Blake Hadley received (at minimum) 39 blunt trauma injuries including a large gaping wound on the right side of his head, soft tissue bruising and multiple fractures to his arms and legs. Assistant Medical Examiner Linda O’Neil stated that Mary Jo had a large gaping wound on the back of her head, multiple fractures, several broken ribs, and a lacerated lung. She had over 36 blunt force trauma injuries.
In 2014, Tyler Hadley pled no contest to two counts of first-degree murder. He was given two life sentences without the possibility of parole. The death penalty was not an option under Florida law due to Hadley’s age at the time he committed the murders. In April 2016, that decision was overturned by judicial appeal due to the new national guidelines for sentencing juveniles.
In 2018, Tyler Hadley’s sentence was changed to two life sentences with the possibility of judicial review after 25 years. He is serving his sentences at Okeechobee Correctional Institution, where he signs jailhouse autographs as “Hammer Boy”.
Ryan Hadley (with Dan Yearick) wrote a book about his normal upbringing by loving parents, his grieving process due to their murders, and how he moved forward. It is titled A Thousand Fireflies: Living in the Aftermath of My Parents’ Murders.