5 Things to Know About Austin Harrouff, FSU Student Who Allegedly Tried to Eat Stabbing Victim's Face
Austin Harrouff, 19, remains hospitalized in critical but stable condition, authorities said
It’s a case that has horrified the nation: Austin Harrouff, a 19-year-old Florida State University sophomore, allegedly fatally stabbed a married couple to death last week in the garage of their Tequestra, Florida, home. Authorities said they found Harrouff soon after, allegedly trying to bite chunks off the man’s face.
Investigators say they are still trying to determine what drove Harrouff to allegedly kill John Stevens III, 59, and his 53-year-old wife, Michelle Mishcon. Neighbor Jeff Fisher, 47, came to the couple’s aid and was injured in a scuffle with their alleged attacker, police have said.
Here are five things to know about the case.
1. Harrouff Reportedly Behaved Erratically Before Alleged ‘Random’ Attack
Prior to his alleged attack, Harrouff walked out of a restaurant, where he was eating with his father and others, due to “slow service,” Martin County Sheriff William Snyder told PEOPLE.
Harrouff’s father, Wade Harouff, told the Palm Beach Post that after leaving the restaurant, Austin went to his mother’s house nearby, where she stopped him from drinking cooking oil before taking him back to the restaurant.
Back at the restaurant, Wade became upset with his son and grabbed him by the shirt collar and, subsequently, the younger Harrouff left the restaurant again, according to the Post.
When authorities responded to the scene of Austin’s alleged attack, “The suspect was on top of our victim, clutching him in a bear hug and biting him in the face,” Snyder told PEOPLE.
“[The deputy] shot him with a taser … that didn’t work,” Synder said. “Another deputy got there, two deputies, and they engaged the suspect and they said they used every bit of strength they had.”
He added: “It was an impossible task to get [Austin] off of the victim. And another officer from a nearby municipality arrived and deployed a dog on him to try to get him off. Then finally, after minutes of fighting, they were able to get the offender off of the victim, but the victim was dead.”
Snyder called his alleged attack “random” and “unprovoked” and said Harrouff had never met the two victims.
2. Victims Were Killed in Garage They Transformed into Community Hangout
Mishcon and Stevens outfitted their garage with a TV, a stereo, a bar and couches, according to friend Denise Andersen.
“They welcomed everybody in the community and it was a place where people could connect and relax after a day of work,” Anderson, 54, told PEOPLE.
Anderson described the couple as “generous and giving people.”
She said Mishcon was a “very special person” and called Stevens “one of the sweetest, mild-mannered men you’d ever meet.”
3. Police Speculated Suspect Could Have Been on Flakka, But Father Says Mental Illness Runs in Family
Police have speculated that Harrouff may have been under the influence of the synthetic drug flakka at the time of his alleged attack.
Harrouff tested negative for common street drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and marijuana, but more extensive testing, which might take up to three weeks, is being performed by the FBI to determine whether Harrouff was under the influence of bath salts or flakka.
However, Wade Harrouff told the Post, “I know it’s not flakka-induced.” He added, “The weird behavior is coming from schizophrenia in my family.”
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4. He Allegedly Posted to YouTube About His ‘Psycho Side’
A description of a YouTube channel called A.Frost and appearing to belong to Harrouff reads, “I’ve got a psycho side and a normal side.” It adds, “I’ve lost my mind help me find it.”
In a video uploaded four days before the attack, Harrouff discusses steroid use.
“You think steroids would be beneficial? Who knows. But for me … I think that steroids really aren’t for me,” he said. “I used to think that I needed steroids to be a body builder, to be this thing. To be this symbol. To be this lie.”
Wade told PEOPLE his son didn’t do steroids, saying, “He always took pride in not being on steroids.”
5. Austin Is Suffering from Organ Failure, Says Father
Wade, a dentist, told PEOPLE that his son’s liver is failing, his lungs are filling with fluid and he is experiencing esophageal bleeding.
“His organs are shutting down,” the elder Harrouff said.
Since his arrest, Austin has been a patient at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, where he remains in critical but stable condition, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office has told PEOPLE.
Once he is released from the hospital, Austin will be charged with two counts of first-degree murder as well as attempted first-degree murder for allegedly stabbing Fisher, police said. He also will face burglary and resisting arrest charges, they said.
In a statement obtained by PEOPLE, Austin’s family expressed condolences to the victims.
“The Harrouff family loves Austin as they know the Stevens and Mishcon families loved John Stevens III and Michelle Mishcon,” the statement read.
“There are no words we can offer to give any real comfort for this tragic loss,” it continued. “There are no words we can offer that we can make up for the injury sustained by Jeff Fisher who is doing what we would want all good neighbors to do which was to try to help innocent people from being hurt or killed.”