A teen accused of a gruesome attack on a couple in their home was found gnawing the flesh from a dead man’s face. He held onto his last bite until he got to the hospital and spat out the flesh, according to newly released documents in the Florida case.
Cops knew they were arriving at a violent scene. They received reports of a woman attacked and a witness stabbed at a Tequesta home.
But they didn’t expect this: a crazed young man atop a body, biting bits of flesh and spitting them out.
That was what deputies came upon when they arrived at a cozy stucco home on Kokomo Lane in Martin County on a warm August night. It took kicks, a bite from a police dog and shocks from a Taser to dislodge Austin Harrouff, dressed only in boxers and a blue shirt.
“F------ kill me, f------ kill me, shoot me now, I deserve to die,” he yelled at deputies, according to the complaint affidavit.
At the hospital, the 19-year-old Florida State University student spit out “what appeared to be human flesh,” and had human hair in his mouth.
“Help me, I ate something bad,” Austin Harrouff told deputies, according to the report.
“What did you eat?” they asked.
“Humans,” he replied.
Outside the hospital, family, friends and neighbors tried to piece together what happened to John and Michelle Mishcon Stevens, a middle-aged couple whose garage lounge — they called it Garage-Ma-Hall — became the scene of a shockingly violent attack.
Prosecutors are looking for a folded knife, a corkscrew and a pair of blue-handles scissors they believe Harrouff used to batter, slash and ultimately kill the married couple in their own driveway. The neighbor who tried to stop the attack, Jeff Fisher, was also stabbed several times, but managed to run home and call police.
With the “how” mostly answered, investigators and bystanders alike want to know: Why? The two main theories about why a college student would unexpectedly kill a pair of strangers are drugs and mental illness.
For months, Harrouff was in “critical but stable condition” at the hospital with a breathing tube down his throat, unable to give a statement to deputies. Officials suggested that his prolonged sedation was because he drank some sort of chemical, perhaps some found in the garage, that burned his throat and stomach. Investigators found an iced-tea bottle with blue liquid inside the garage, but it’s not clear what the liquid is or if it belonged to Harrouff.
His mother called 911 to report her son missing and she told the operator that her son started saying “delusional” things about being immortal and a superhero.
After an initial test showed Harrouff wasn’t on any common street drugs — like cocaine, heroin, marijuana — the sheriff wondered aloud at a news conference if the young man was on Flakka, a drug associated with psychotic and violent outbursts. Harrouff, deputies said, denied the drug charges at the hospital.
“Test me. You won’t find any drugs,” he told deputies.
Martin County sent samples of Harrouff’s blood, hair and DNA to the FBI lab at Quantico, Virginia, for a more thorough test. The results still aren’t ready, said Martin County spokeswoman Christine Weiss.
“We’re at their mercy,” she said.
Harrouff’s father, Wade, gave an interview to the ‘Dr. Phil’ show where he blamed the attack on his son’s untreated mental illness.
“He’s had the symptoms for about two weeks prior,” he said. “I just thought he’d snap out of it.”
Wade talked about the four-hour walk in the woods they took on the morning of the attack and how Austin was worried about “an evil presence.”
Wade Harrouff told the TV host that his son disappeared during their family dinner that night and walked two miles to his mother’s house. There, he said Austin tried to drink a bottle of cooking oil before pouring it in a bowl, dousing it in Parmesan cheese and attempting to eat it with a spoon.
The relationship between Wade and Dr. Phil apparently led to another interview for the show, a hospital bed call between the host and Austin the same day the teen was moved to jail on Oct 3. That same day he declined to give a statement to deputies.
The episode, which was promoted as “The Frat Boy Dubbed the ‘Cannibal Killer’ Breaks His Silence from His Hospital Bed,” was supposed to air Oct. 28, but after an uproar from the victims’ families it was postponed. Producers said a “new development in the case” was behind the schedule change, but no new evidence has been released. The other explanation producers offered was to minimize harm to the victims’ families.
But John Stevens IV, son of the slain John Stevens, said he thinks the episode was called off because the Harrouff family’s lawyer “freaked out.” Anything Harrouff said to the press is admissible in court, with no Miranda protections.
“My impression is they canceled it to maintain a relationship with the family so they can continue to getting these kinds of stories,” Stevens told the Miami Herald on Tuesday.
Stevens said it’s “extremely disrespectful” that the “Dr. Phil” show has “never shown any real interest” in interviewing the victims’ families and instead chose to focus on the killer. He also questions why Austin’s family has chosen to defend him.
“They should just abandon him to the legal system and let the state of Florida destroy him,” he said. “He’s just evil.”
Stevens said Harrouff’s immediate guilt (telling officers “shoot me now, I deserve to die”) and his statements to the neighbor he stabbed meant he was “obviously lucid.” All other evidence pointing to mental illness was concocted after the fact, he said, in an effort to build a case around an insanity plea.
The bits of the canceled “Dr. Phil” episode that Stevens and his aunt listened to were clips of Harrouff babbling “about hearing voices of monsters and stuff,” he said.
“It’s like he Googled ‘how to come up with a psychiatric defense,’ ” Stevens said.
“I’ve never been for the death penalty before, but someone like this — the kid needs to be destroyed. That’s the only solution here.”