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Beef Fat Injection Woman Up On Felony Rap When She Died

The Homewood woman, hospitalized after injecting hot beef fat into her face, died as one daughter was fighting in court to keep her away from another daughter.

On the day 63-year-old Janet Hardt died, the daughter from whom she'd been estranged for 12 years went to court to extend an order of protection against the woman.

Hardt, of Homewood, died Thursday at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, where she'd gone after injecting into her face hot beef fat she'd boiled herself. Though she said she'd done this several times in the past, Hardt complained her face was burning. She was pronounced dead at 6:25 that evening.

The Cook County Medical Examiner, after autopsy, said her death was caused by an abdominal infection.

The unusual circumstance that brought her to the hospital garnered worldwide attention.

In the years preceding her death, Hardt got herself in trouble with the law and was awaiting trial on felony charges, accused of forging a judge's name on custody papers. She was also under a judge's order to stay away from a daughter she repeatedly harassed, according to court documents reviewed by Patch.

On the same day Hardt died, her daughter Heather Cocke went to court to extend an order of protection she initially secured in August 2009. In her petition to obtain the order, Cocke said Hardt told the Lockport police that Cocke was holding her younger sister, Hilary Hardt, “against her will.”

After police determined no one was being held captive in Cocke’s Lockport home, the 4-foot-11, 90-pound Hardt showed up and started “banging on my doors and windows and looking in my house,” Cocke said.

Cocke claimed in the filing that she and her mother had not spoken in a dozen years, “but because I’m helping my father who is going through a divorce, my family is in jeopardy.”

Hardt tried to obtain emergency custody and guardianship of the same 18-year-old daughter she claimed was being held prisoner in Cocke’s home. In doing so, she forged a court order for the guardianship of Hilary Hardt in the name of Cook County Judge James Riley, according to authorities, and presented it to the Lockport police in August 2009.

In Cocke’s petition for protection, she said Hilary Hardt suffers from “shared psychosis.”

Janet Hardt apparently suffered from mental problems of her own. The court ruled in August 2010 that she was unfit to stand trial. Prosecutors and her defense attorney stipulated that Hardt's mental state should be assessed in 2011.

Clinical psychologist Randy Zoot recently performed a psychiatric evaluation of Hardt. Zoot was scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 27 to testify whether Hardt was sane enough to go to trial.

A staffer with the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office said an autopsy performed Friday revealed that Hardt died of peritonitis and perforated diverticulitis — the inflammation of her abdominal wall and a hole in her intestine. According to the medical examiner’s office, Hardt died of “natural causes.”

A report on the WLS website said “shortly before Hardt died, she injected heated beef fat into her face around her mouth and chin, a procedure she had done before on several occasions.”

Gogigi September 13, 2011 at 12:37 PM
How sad this woman, who very obviously needed help, didn't get it. When she was found "unfit to stand trial" in 2010, why wasn't she ordered into a mental health facility? Because theses facilities are underfunded and closing! We will read a lot more stories like this unfortunately.
Genvieve LaChappele September 13, 2011 at 02:03 PM
This poor woman is dead. Does her family need this to be out there? I don't think this photo needed to be released. Poor judgement. I went to HF with her daughter and the woman had serious problems back then. Very sad. Hopefully this will be the last article on this very poor soul.
JPK September 13, 2011 at 03:02 PM
Agreed. The part of the story that "garnered worldwide attention" was not even ruled as her cause of death. This family is obviously going through enough without the extra loads of dirty laundry being aired.
WA Mama September 13, 2011 at 03:04 PM
I agree, Gogigi. These things jumped out at me: Felony committed August 2009 Found unfit for trail August 2010 Scheduled for psych eval, 2011 Doctor testifies about eval OCT 2011 What could the hold-up possibly have been? How could this woman and her family have benefited from the past two years of the psych help she needed? The courts screwed this one up.
Joel September 13, 2011 at 05:28 PM
The picture shows a mentally disturbed individual. It pretty much tells the story.
HBR September 13, 2011 at 06:47 PM
I think it received so much attention because surficially, it was the most bizarre thing anyone has heard around these parts in quite some time. At first glance, it was just some self-absorbed woman taking great lengths (that so many women unfortunately take) to be 'beautiful'. Not that it was anyone's business to begin with, but of course now that there is more of her story out there, maybe people are regretting their initial judgment and will start backing off of the jokes. This is indeed, a sad story.
Juvenal September 13, 2011 at 06:49 PM
You know Ryan, I agree with these posters. I would at least lose the photo here. Journalism slides into voyeurism; Let the tabloids run the pic, the Patch is better than that.
GinnyHampton September 14, 2011 at 12:12 AM
This story is so sad and that picture is too. Nobody needs to be remembered with a picture like that. Please give her and her family some dignity.
Elizabeth Webb September 14, 2011 at 02:13 AM
Who broke this story and how did they get medical information? Privacy laws around medical issues are the second contact anyone has at a medical facillity - and before you get any medical attention. The rest is a matter of public record, i guess. It's good to know how the mental health community actually works.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (Editor) September 14, 2011 at 04:37 AM
Because various media outlets in Chicago and around the world published the news this week with the implication that this was a cosmetic beauty procedure gone bad and vanity taken to a fatal degree—many published stock photo images of Botox injections on smooth-skinned faces—Patch felt compelled to look a bit deeper at the case and publish enough context that might mute the mean-spirited commentary that was unfolding. The report is based entirely on open records. Clearly, based on some of the comments seen today, we've seen people rethinking their earlier reactions. And we thank our readers for that.
SouthSide September 14, 2011 at 01:48 PM
Thanks, Ryan. It is a disturbing photo, but it is necessary for people to see what happens when health issues are left untreated. I think Patch did the right thing posting the photo. No one can joke about this story after seeing this photo. It is NOT a laughing matter, and this photo helps, I think, the public recognize that the family--estranged or not--deserves sympathy, perhaps even empathy for their struggles.
Genvieve LaChappele September 14, 2011 at 02:24 PM
there was no good reason for the release of this photo. Sensationalism is driving our news! When it happens to your family, you will finally get it! Please take it down. I thought patch was better than this.
abby September 14, 2011 at 11:37 PM
I'm of two minds regarding this story. The extreme publicity regarding this incident of the beef fat injections and the subsequent updates are cruel and hurtful to her family as well as sensationalistic. The family obviously has dealt with a lot of problems over the years. However, this story also serves as a warning re: how mental illness can manifest itself. It can exist anywhere, even in nice neighborhoods that reflect middle class values. I knew that there was a lot more behind the tawdry reports that described her as a plastic surgery affecionado. What this story has managed to clarify is that Mrs. Hardt had some form of mental illness and that it took many patterns of strange behavior that defied description.
babyboomer September 14, 2011 at 11:39 PM
There is more important police news to report than this bizarre story. The crime rate is going up in Homewood, and the police do not want us to know about it, so they simply do not report all the crime that is going on. There was a home invasion up the street from me while a woman was sleeping in her bed. Have we heard on iota of that. Really!! There is a certain element that has creeped into our neighborhood, and it is not good. We better all be on our toes or your home will be next.
Mr Who September 15, 2011 at 01:28 AM
Are you nuts???? Baby boomer,, there was no home invasion in Homewood. No one at the Homewood Poljce is hiding anything. Ask Ryan and is cohorts they read all of the reports on a weekly basis.
Mr Who September 15, 2011 at 01:36 AM
The only real change in crime in Homewood is possibly an increase in theft cases mostly from shoplifting.
CitizenJ September 16, 2011 at 06:33 AM
"Mr. Who" it's you that is NUTS. babyboomer is absolutely correct! I hope they are taking about the same corner lot house otherwise there was more than one! We had one on the next block over last week. I still haven't seen a peep of news about it. The HPD was definitely there investigating. Saw them there and the damage that was caused by the break in with my own eyes so...... Mr. Who is full of Whoee!!!. Maybe they didn't file the report yet - busy explaining why the Flossmoor resident Hoodlums were able to take the baton away from the HPO. Not good guys. Better brush up on your self-defense moves. Next time it might be your gun as brazen as these youts are. Mr. Who, get your head out of the sand and find some new information sources.
FAMILY September 24, 2011 at 05:23 AM
ATTN FRANK, IT IS SAD THAT YOU NEED TO POST THE PICTURE OF OUR DEAD MOTHER'S MENTALLY ILL PICTURE FOR ALL THE WORLD TO SEE. YES, IT IS PUBLIC RECORD, BUT DO YOU THINK WE AS A FAMILY HAVE BEEN THROUGH ENOUGH? THE COURTS DID FAIL AND WE COULD NOT SAVE HER, YET YOU FEEL COMPELLED TO PLACE IT UP FOR ALL TO SEE SO YOU CAN GET BETTER HITS ON THE WEB. HOW ABOUT POSTING INFORMATION THAT IS USEFUL AND ADDRESSES THE MENTAL ILLNESS THAT DROVE HER TO DO THESE THINGS. HOW DARE YOU.. I ASK YOU FROM HUMAN BEING TO HUMAN BEING PLEASE TAKE THIS PICTURE DOWN. SINCERELY A MOURNING FAMILY
Sue1 August 12, 2012 at 11:13 PM
Family, I agree with you. I am sorry for what you are dealing with.

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