Michael Anthony Hadley’s grandfather said the 25-year-old was looking forward to seeing his family again.
But he never called.
“He was loved by a very large family,” his grandfather, Michael W. Hadley, said this month.
His family had reported him missing in late December, and people riding horses found his body in the desert just after 12:55 p.m. Feb. 3 near Coldcreek and Bugling Bull roads, the Metropolitan Police Department said.
He died of multiple injuries, and his death was ruled a homicide, the Clark County coroner’s office said.
Michael Anthony Hadley lived on the streets of Las Vegas and had battled heroin addiction since he was a junior in high school.
His grandparents, who had raised him since he was young, said he had shown signs his health was improving. His mind was sharp and he looked healthy, they said.
Grandmother Heidi Hadley said her grandson was on a waiting list for a rehabilitation program and appeared sober when they last saw him.
He recently had said his heart was beginning to rebuke the addictive urges.
“It seemed like he had almost turned a corner,” Michael W. Hadley said. “And he just didn’t get the chance.”
Michael Anthony Hadley was born in Lompoc, California, but grew up with his grandparents, brother and aunt in Seattle. His grandparents later moved to Las Vegas.
The eldest of 17 grandchildren, “Mikey” enjoyed skateboarding and playing basketball with his younger brother.
He was a picky eater who preferred grilled cheese sandwiches cut into triangles, McDonald’s french fries, milkshakes and homemade chocolate-dipped peanut butter balls, his grandmother said.
She said she was planning to make those chocolate-dipped peanut butter balls when she saw him at Christmas.
“He was more like my son and brother than he was my grandson,” Heidi Hadley said.
As a young adult, he chose to live on the streets, grandmother Heidi Hadley said.
He left Seattle for Las Vegas about a year ago, his grandmother said. He wanted to get away from the icy streets of the Northwest where he had been living, and he had nowhere else to turn. She bought him a bus ticket, and he traveled to Las Vegas, where he lived near Charleston Boulevard and Ninth Street.
On Mondays, his grandmother would pick him up for lunch at Del Taco. Sometimes she would bring him to her home, where he would shower, shave or watch a movie.
His friends told Heidi Hadley that he would talk for days about how much he cared for his grandmother.
“Mikey knew how much I loved him,” she said.
He had little other than his backpack and a wallet. His grandparents said he never went anywhere without the backpack.
He kept various books inside, including a tattered Bible, Tom Clancy novels and classics such as “Of Mice and Men,” and “Catcher in the Rye,” one of the last books his grandfather bought him.
He also kept a journal where he would jot down his everyday thoughts. Heidi Hadley would buy him a new one whenever he needed it.
Her grandson’s goal was to eventually come back to his family, she said. As Heidi Hadley dropped him off where he lived on Dec. 18, the last time his family saw him alive, they embraced.
He told her, “I’ll see you at Christmastime,” and she watched him walk away.
Police told the family that he was killed in Las Vegas, Michael W. Hadley said. No arrests have been made in his death. He was found wearing nothing but a few rings on his hand. His backpack was nowhere to be seen.
“I’d rather have Mikey, even if he was on the street,” his grandfather said. “I’d rather have him.”