Friend: Tyler Hadley confessed at party, let him see crime scene

By Will Greenlee


PORT ST. LUCIE — When Tyler Hadley told his best friend, Michael Mandell, what he had done, Mandell didn’t believe it at first, Mandell said Tuesday.

“He asked me to stay there until after everyone left to see them and I didn’t want to,” Mandell said. “I went in there and checked for myself.

“I opened the door. I saw bloody sheets piled everywhere. I saw broken pictures with blood on them and I looked down and I saw his dad’s leg there.”

Hadley, 17, is accused of bludgeoning his parents, Mary Jo Hadley, 47, and 54-year-old Blake Hadley, with a hammer Saturday before having as many as 60 people over for a party at his home in the 300 block of Northeast Granduer Avenue.

Mandell, also 17, said he was one of two people who saw the bodies.

Investigators went to the home about 4:20 a.m. Sunday after a tip that a 17-year-old had killed his parents and the bodies were in the home. Tyler’s parents’ bodies were found in their locked bedroom in the 300 block of Northeast Granduer Avenue on Sunday morning.

Port St. Lucie police officials have accused Hadley of using a 22-inch framing hammer — typically used for framing wooden houses — to strike his parents in the head and torso. Then, they said, he used books, files and towels to cover their bodies.

Police on the scene wrote in their report, which was released with much of the information redacted Tuesday, that they found the bodies by removing rubble until they could see limbs. They first found “the leg of a male covered … and cold to the touch.”

They dug more, “uncovering an arm to a second person.”Mandell said Tyler told him he thought “the devil possessed him.” He said the Hadleys were having financial problems and, according to Mandell, that along with rap music and fights with his parents influenced his actions.

Mandell said Tyler Hadley had taken the drug ecstasy.

“After he told me, I didn’t believe him because he’s been my best friend forever. I would never suspect anything like this,” Mandell said. “I was looking around, he told me if I look enough I could see signs. I looked on the floor and could see signs of blood.”

Police believe Tyler Hadley posted information about the party about 1:15 p.m. or 1:30 p.m. Saturday on Facebook — before the homicides. The party began around 9 p.m. or 10 p.m.

“It was a normal party. There was a lot of people there,” Mandell said. “Everyone just having a fun time. Laughing around. Tyler was having a fun time himself, he was acting like nothing had happened.”

An expert says if Hadley did kill his parents, he must have shown some signs of troubling demeanor and thoughts before Saturday.

“I would imagine he bounced the idea around with someone first, even as a joke. Young people who are contemplating committing homicides, suicides or similar crimes usually clue to their actions before anything happens,” said Eric Leever, a licensed mental health counselor in Stuart who specializes in family conflict and troubled children.

“There probably also were some indicators and a tendency toward violence before the incident,” he added.

Indicators might include a disregard for people’s welfare and property, as well as patterns of sudden violent behavior such as throwing objects, punching walls, physical confrontations or hurting animals.

Leever said he believes Tyler might have antisocial personality disorder.

“What you see in someone who has this disorder is that they get what they want no matter what,” Leever said. “If they want sex, they’ll rape someone. If they want an item, they’ll take it. If they want a party, they’ll do what it takes to throw it.”

Also common with the disorder, Leever said, is the person’s ability to appear normal in brief contact.

“They can be personable and a lot of fun, even charming, but if you know them well, you could spot the signs,” he said.

Morgan Noel, Mike Mandell’s girlfriend, said, “I remember him making a weird statement like a couple months ago, that the devil has possessed him, and he was going crazy.”

Mandell said Tyler Hadley started getting troubled when he was about 15. But Saturday night was shocking.

“I feel like this kid that I’ve known all my life, I don’t know him,” Mandell said. “His family was my family. They were very good people. I really don’t see any motive besides drugs.

“He took three ecstasy pills before he did this. He said he couldn’t do it sober.”

Mandell said at the party he took a picture with Tyler after Tyler said he thought it would be the last time they’d see each other.

“You could see the horror in his face,” Mandell said. “That’s not normal Tyler.”

Mandell said he stayed at the party until it was nearly over.

“He was going to commit suicide once he got caught, but that failed,” Mandell said.

Mandell said he didn’t call police, saying he was shocked. He said police came to his home Sunday morning and he told the what he knew.

Meanwhile, the incident has left Mandell reeling.

“I feel sick, I haven’t eaten, haven’t slept I’m just sick,” Mandell said.

Staff writers Jonathan Mattise, Nadia Vanderhoof, Zaimarie De Guzman, Adriana Montoya and Matt Prichard, and Kristyn Caddell of WPTV NewsChannel 5 contributed to this report.