Tyler Hadley was 17 years old when he brutally murdered his parents, Blake and Mary Jo Hadley, at their house in Port St. Lucie, Florida, where he subsequently threw a party.
He was born prematurely on Dec. 16, 1993, and had to remain in the hospital for a month inside an incubator. When he got older, he was on various medications for depression, hormones, and thyroid, among other conditions.
By the age of 16, Tyler was having behavior issues, and he was reportedly self-medicating by consuming alcohol, smoking marijuana, taking Xanax, Percocet, Oxycodone, ecstasy, and the hallucinogen DMT.
Relatives describe Tyler as “loving but withdrawn, keeping to himself, and suffering from anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and bulimia.”
“He often quit sports, hobbies, and projects—like learning to play drums and trombone—soon after starting them, saying he wasn’t good enough, feeling like he was a step below everyone else.”
Tyler lived with his mother, Mary Jo, and his father, Blake, in a three-bedroom house located in the 300 block of Northeast Granduer Avenue.
Mary Jo, 47, worked as an elementary school teacher for 24 years. For six of those years, she was employed at Village Green Environmental Studies School.
Blake, 54, was a watch engineer for 30 years at Florida Power and Light.
Tyler also had an older brother named Ryan, who was living in North Carolina at the time he killed his parents.
Tyler sent house party invitations before killing his parents
Between 1:15 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. on July 16, 2011, Tyler, who was a student at St. Lucie West Centennial High School, sent a party invitation via Facebook.
One of the posts said, “Party at my crib… Maybe.”
After hiding his parents’ cell phones in his bedroom and stealing their credit card, he went to the family room, where Mary Jo was on the computer.
He stood behind his mother for about five minutes before he struck her on the head and back with a wooden-handled framing hammer, which was 17 inches long and weighed 22 ounces.
She was hit 36 times.
Associate medical examiner Linda O’Neil testified that Mary Jo “was alive during every single blow.”
When Blake heard his wife screaming, he ran toward her to see what was going on. That’s when Tyler struck his father 39 times in the head and chest area.
He also had broken bones in one of his legs.
Chief medical examiner Roger Mittleman testified that Blake had injuries that were consistent with “someone who was fighting for his life.”
Investigators said the attack lasted between 17 seconds and a minute.
Tyler Hadley cleaned his Port St. Lucie home before throwing party
For three hours, Tyler cleaned up the crime scene. He said it was more bloody than he would have expected it to be. Then he hid his parents’ bodies inside the master bedroom.
He didn’t want to look at their faces, so he wrapped towels around their heads and laid them face down on their bed.
Tyler left the hammer between Blake and Mary Jo’s bodies before he locked the bedroom door and waited for his guests to arrive.
Authorities believe the party started at 9 or 10 p.m., and about 60 people showed up.
Partygoers said Tyler was in good spirits at the party. They said he was very “hospitable,” and he had mentioned that he was going to have another party the following night.
Throughout the night, they played beer pong, smoked cigars, and drank alcohol.
They also listened to loud music as police officials received a call about a noise complaint. By the time deputies arrived at 1:30 a.m., the party was already coming to an end.
But sometime during the party, Tyler asked one of his closest friends, who’s only identified as M.M., to step outside because he needed to talk to him.
Tyler Hadley confessed to murdering Blake and Mary Jo Hadley
They went outside, and it was then that Tyler admitted to killing his parents. When M.M. didn’t believe him, Tyler showed him a bloody footprint in the garage.
Then he showed them their bodies in the bedroom.
After the party, M.M. called Crime Stoppers in Orlando and reported the murders. M.M. said Tyler told him he killed his parents after his father punched him several times in the face.
Deputies returned to Tyler’s house at 4:24 a.m.
When Tyler answered the door, one of the officers stated that he “appeared nervous, frantic, and very talkative.”
Tyler told them that he wasn’t going to let them inside because he was alone. He said his parents were in West Palm Beach.
Due to the nature of the call, police officials stated that they had to make an emergency entrance.
Upon entering, the police noticed beer bottles and plastic cups throughout the house.
Police found Tyler Hadley’s parents dead inside home
When officers approached Blake and Mary Jo’s bedroom door, they noticed there was blood on the door frame, hatch, and the baseboard.
The officers tried opening the door, but it was locked, and Tyler said he didn’t have the key.
But after twisting and turning the knob, it finally opened. That’s when they discovered Blake and Mary Jo’s bludgeoned bodies on the bed.
Tyler was arrested at the scene.
He was transported to a juvenile detention center in Fort Pierce, where he was held without bond.
The teen was later transferred to the St. Lucie County Jail after it was determined that he would be charged as an adult.
He was charged with two counts of first-degree murder.
While in prison, an inmate told authorities that he nicknamed himself “Hammer Boy” and was signing autographs.
During a police interview, Tyler stated that he “blatantly told people about it… It started off almost as a joke, but it became recurring in my mind and wouldn’t leave.”
“I was actually compulsively thinking about it. I sat there, and I thought, “Why am I even thinking these thoughts?”
Tyler Hadley avoided the death penalty
Tyler told detectives that he was in “some sort of psychotic state or trance” when he killed his parents.
He added, “I wish I would have known them more as people instead of just mom and dad. I never really seen them as real people.”
After the murders, Tyler said he looked in the mirror and noticed how bloody he was, then he laughed. He also mentioned that he had planned to commit suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning.
Tyler told psychologist Robert Kinscherff that “I was probably mad about getting in trouble and everything that was going on.”
“They (the murderous thoughts) started a little bit, but increased in frequency, became an obsession that I couldn’t get out of my mind, pretty intense; I thought about it every day.”
It was later determined that Tyler would not face the death penalty because the U.S. Supreme Court decided that subjecting minors to the death penalty would be a “punishment that is cruel and unusual.”
Chief Assistant State Attorney Tom Bakkedahl said that “it’s simply off the table; it’s not a viable option.”
“Despite the fact that the case may otherwise in all respects warrant the death penalty, we are prohibited from seeking it as a result of (Hadley) being approximately six months short of his 18th birthday.”
During a three-hour conversation with a state-hired psychologist, Tyler stated that he regretted killing his parents.
Where is Tyler Hadley now?
Tyler pleaded no contest to first-degree murder, and he was later sentenced to two life sentences without the chance of parole.
During Tyler’s sentencing on March 20, 2014, the judge announced in court that “these attacks on the defendant’s parents were very painful, both physically and emotionally.”
“And I say emotionally because they realized that their own son was killing them.”
But due to his age at the time of the crime, Tyler was re-sentenced in December 2018 to life in prison.
He is currently serving his sentence at a correctional institution in Okeechobee, Florida.