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.”