FSU Student Accused of Trying to Eat Stabbing Victim's Face Is Undergoing Surgery – and May Not Live
Austin Harrouff, 19, was undergoing surgery Wednesday for a hand injury
Police say the 19-year-old Florida State University student accused of fatally stabbing a couple and trying to eat one victim’s face remains “heavily sedated” in a hospital and officials don’t know whether he will live, PEOPLE confirms.
Austin Harrouff is in “stable condition” at a Palm Beach County hospital but police do not know whether he will recover from injuries sustained when he allegedly fatally stabbed John Joseph, 59, and Michelle Mishcon, 53, before fighting up to four officers and a police dog, a Martin County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson tells PEOPLE.
“He’s having hand surgery … due to an injury he sustained during his attack,” the spokesperson says. “He’s still heavily sedated.”
The spokesperson adds that Harrouff is not yet alert and is not speaking with investigators.
The FSU fraternity brother allegedly walked into the couple’s open garage Monday night and began stabbing the pair and beating them with several nearby objects in an “unprovoked” and “random” attack, Sheriff William Snyder previously told PEOPLE.
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He alleged it was an “impossible task” for responding officers to subdue Harrouff.
“The suspect was on top of our victim, clutching him in a bear hug and biting him in the face,” Snyder said, adding that up to four officers struggled with the teen, deploying a stun gun several times. “Finally, after minutes of fighting, they were able to get the offender off of the victim, but the victim was dead.”
Snyder said that Harrouff was intubated at a Palm Beach County hospital after the incident. The sheriff noted that there is a chance Harrouff could die as a result of either “sustained trauma” from his struggle with officers or an alleged drug overdose.
Harrouff has been charged with aggravated battery in the attack and Snyder says that, if the teen pulls through, he will be charged with home invasion and two counts of murder.
He said investigators have not determined a motive for the attack, but noted that the synthetic drug flakka – a psychoactive stimulant that has been linked to bizarre behavior and drug overdoses – could be a factor.
However, authorities have not confirmed that Harrouff was under the influence of flakka or any other drug.
“When you see a case like this where someone is biting off pieces of somebody’s face, could it be flakka?” Snyder said. “The answer is it absolutely could be a flakka case.”