FSU Student Who Allegedly Tried to Eat Man's Face Says 'I'm So Sorry' in Recently-Released Dr. Phil Tape
In an unaired bedside interview taped nearly five months ago for the Dr. Phil show, the Florida State University student accused of stabbing a couple to death and biting off parts of a man’s face said he remembers little about the incident.
Still, Austin Harouff, now 20 and a sophomore at the time of his arrest, tearfully expressed regret over his behavior, telling the talk show host, “I never wanted this to happen.”
The interview between host Phil McGraw and the suspect, Austin Harouff, was scheduled to air back on Oct. 28, 2016. But producers pulled the episode at the last minute without explanation.
On Tuesday morning, a Florida judge decided the interview footage should be released to media outlets. The decision comes after months of court motions which sought to suppress the footage from public view. Now, the footage will air during Thursday’s episode of Dr. Phil. (The full video was obtained by the Sun-Sentinel.)
Harrouff is charged with two counts of murder in the Aug. 15, 2016, deaths of John Stevens, 59, and his 53-year-old wife, Michelle Mishcon, outside their Tequesta, Florida, home. The couple was attacked shortly after Harrouff stormed out of a dinner where he was eating with his father and others. His parents say he had been acting strangely in the weeks before the fatal incident.
A neighbor, 47-year-old Jeff Fisher, came to the couple’s aid and tried fending off their attacker. He was injured in the process, and was treated at a nearby hospital before being released.
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When police arrived at the scene, officers allegedly had to pull Harrouff, who was in his underwear, off of Stevens. As he was allegedly biting Stevens, police kicked Harrouff in the face several times, with no effect. Investigators claim Harrouff was allegedly biting Stevens’ face and had bitten into his abdomen.
Police allege that before the killings, Harrouff consumed unspecified chemicals that he’d found in the couple’s garage. The chemicals scorched the lining of Harrouff’s throat.
Authorities initially believed Harrouff may have been under the influence of the synthetic drug flakka at the time, but the results of toxicology tests debunked those suspicions.
In the Dr. Phil footage, Harrouff denied ever trying flakka. He also said he has never taken bath salts or steroids.
When asked what he would say to the families of his alleged victims, the 20-year-old’s voice began to crack as he searched for a response.
“I never imagined this would ever happen and I am deeply sorry to the family that was affected,” Harrouff told McGraw. “I hope that something like this never happens again. I never wanted, consciously, to do something like this or I never planned it. I didn’t want to do it.”
Harrouff told Dr. Phil that he only remembers fragments from the evening: He can recall holding a machete at one point, and remembers his alleged victims yelling at him, but not what they’d said.
“It happened but I wasn’t aware of it at the time,” Harrouff said. “At the end, I remember saving a dog and hijacking a car. It’s a blur.”
Asked how he feels about the deaths of Steven and Mishcon, Harrouff started to sob.
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“I felt terrible and … I really, really don’t have words to explain how I feel,” he said. “It’s like a nightmare … It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. I never imagined this would ever happen and I am deeply sorry to the family. I’m sorry for their loss and I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. I’m so sorry and I never wanted this to happen. I’m so sorry. I don’t know how to put it into words. I never wanted this to happen.”
During the interview, Harrouuff also acknowledged he suffers from paranoia and delusions of grandeur, and told Dr. Phil he recognizes he needs professional help.
“I’m just so sorry,” Harrouff said. When asked why he did it, he told McGraw, “I don’t know.”
Harrouff’s family released a statement soon after the killings.
“There are no words we can offer to give any real comfort for this tragic loss,” the statement read. “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.”
The statement said Harrouff “is not the person some are making him to be for their own purposes.”
A motive for the alleged attacks has not been revealed by police.
In YouTube videos uploaded four days before the attack, Harrouff is seen discussing steroid use. In other clips, Harrouff appears to lift weights and makes references to himself as “The God of Fitness.” Harrouff wrote on YouTube page believed to be his, “I’ve got a psycho side and a normal side,” and “I’ve lost my mind help me find it.”
Harrouff’s attorney could not be reached for comment Tuesday.