It's tough to grow up in Florida. Things seems alright until you hit 16 and realize that shuttling between stucco strip malls leaves a little to be desired. But for Tyler Hadley, living in Port St. Lucie was so boring that he would do anything for a good time. At least that's the premise of a recent Rolling Stone article that details how the then-17-year-old murdered his parents and threw a rager while their corpses were inside the house.
According to the article, Port St. Lucie has no constructive options for teenagers, which is evinced by a slew of young criminals there, such as a marauding band of skateboarders and a group of kids who enjoyed vandalizing big-box stores. "The whole mindset is that there's nothing to do, so I'm not going to do anything but throw a party," one local told reporter Nathaniel Rich.
That's exactly what Tyler Hadley did the night he brutally murdered his parents with a hammer. Practically the whole town showed up for the party he threw afterward, despite the fact that Hadley was a relatively unknown pill-head with a history of mental illness and violence.
Perhaps the most intriguing parts of Rich's article are the Facebook chats he excavated out of 1,802 pages of discovery files and sprinkled throughout the narrative. "I always prefer direct quotation to paraphrase," Rich explains. It's a powerful effect; the logs show a flat affect on the part of the teenagers that is downright horrifying.
In one online conversation, Hadley explains how his mom took his cell phone away. "Yeah she's a cunt fa sho I might kill her" he writes to a friend. "Omg no jail!! Or I mean prison! Lol," she replies in lieu of a normal, human response to a murder plot. Most of the conversations are like this -- mostly comprised of truncated thoughts with no emotional depth. Hadley spoke of killing his parents, and no one could do anything except send acronyms and emoticons back.
In fact, Hadley told people at the party that his parents were dead. To others, he alluded to the fact that he had committed a murder, saying he was going away for a long time. Both of his parents' cars sat in the driveway during the festivities, a fact that no one bothered to question. After Tyler confessed to his best friend, the two posed for a selfie that they uploaded to Instagram.
Not only does the article make today's teenagers seem terrible, it makes the Treasure Coast town seem like a hell hole. "The article, the way it's written, doesn't paint a very pretty picture of Port St. Lucie," Jenny Grow, city spokeswoman, told a local TV station there. Hadley's attorneys say the piece is full of sensationalism and even claimed it was inaccurate.
Rich, the author, says that he spent a considerable amount of time in West Palm Beach as a kid but had no preconceived notions about Port St. Lucie, having never traveled there before spending a week reporting the Rolling Stone piece. His theory of boredom-induced rage came from interviewing dozens of teenagers and about eight of the Hadley's neighbors.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
"I think the story speaks for itself," says Rich. "I'd only add that I was amazed to learn how many kids at the party seemed to have known that Tyler's parents were dead--and kept partying anyway."
Send your story tips to the author, Allie Conti.
Follow Allie Conti on Twitter: @allie_conti