TAMPA - A Port St. Lucie teenager accused of hammering his parents to death may have been high on the drug "ecstacy."
17-year-old Tyler Hadley is accused of killing his parents with a hammer last weekend, and then hosting a party at his house with his parents' dead bodies inside.
Now, one of Hadley's best friends says he admitted to taking three ecstasy pills around the time of the murders.
Ecstasy is a drug typically used at raves or concerts. In Florida, men are more likely to use it, and in exposure cases reported to Florida's poison control in the last three years, the oldest was 67 and the youngest was just 3 months.
Ecstasy is a drug of choice for young people, even though they are most at risk for its dangers, because they have underdeveloped frontal lobes.
"That is the part of the brain that gives us judgment," said University Community Hospital neurologist Dr. Nancy Rodgers-Neame. "Really keeps us from behaving in a knee-jerk kind of manner."
Dr. Rodgers-Neame says those lobes are not fully developed until someone's late 20s. That's why teenagers tend to act more impulsively.
Add a drug like ecstasy, and the combination is a dangerous one.
"It causes the release of neurotransmitters that are already present in the brain," Dr. Rodgers-Neame said.
Neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, released in large amounts, causes hyperactivity at minimum. At worst, it leads to hallucinations and behavior that follows.
"It can cause psychotic behaviors. It's not a safe drug," said Florida Poison
Information Director Dr. Cynthia Lewis-Younger. "I do believe that people may do things they would not do off of the drug, while they are on the drug, yes."
Still, both doctors believe someone would likely have to be predisposed to some kind of psychotic behavior in order for ecstasy to bring it out. In the case of Tyler Hadley, they say ecstasy can't be entirely to blame, but the situation may be unexplainable without it.
"Ecstasy will not turn your normal teenager into Mr. Hyde," Dr. Rodgers-Neame said.
ABC News 23rd July 2011