College sophomore student – believed to be high on a drug called flakka – stabbed and killed a Florida couple and was said to gnaw on one of the victim’s face, biting off pieces of flesh. Investigators from the Florida Police department are still baffled at the motive of the murder.
The attack was random. Martin County Sheriff William D. Snyder said on Wednesday that, “One of the first things we try to do at a crime scene is try to understand the motive of the offender because it is the motive of the offender that gets us going in the right direction. In this case, we can’t establish a motive. It’s ‘I don’t know.’” when asked about the details behind the horrid attack.
Investigators found no known connection between the attacker Austin Harrouff, 19 and the victims John Stevens, 59 and Michelle Mishcon, 53.
The attack happened at a high-end community in the town of Tequesta on the night of August 15, around 10 P.M.
Around 9 P.M. Austin was said to be with his parents at Duffy’s Sports Grille, a restaurant on Island Way in Jupiter River Estates when he apparently became upset over an issue with the service and he stormed off on foot. His parents called Jupiter police station to say that they were concerned about their son.
Austin walked along the winding road that runs past Jupiter Community Park and into Martin County and was said to be heading towards his father’s home on Merritt Lane, about for miles north on Island Way. For reasons unknown, he stopped one street short of his father’s house and went to a different house where he encountered the couple who were sitting in their garage. Stevens and Mischon were the home’s owners since it was built in 2002.
Sherrif William Snyder described that Austin was using “weapons of opportunity” – multiple items in the garage as a weapon to attack and kill the couple. Mischon and Stevens died due to multiple stab wounds but the latter also suffered from blunt force trauma to his head as he appeared to fight back.
A neighbor called 911 when he saw that the young man was attacking the woman across the street. He then tried to intervene and stop the attack but was stabbed, too and taken into surgery Monday night.
Deputies who arrived at the scene had a hard time subduing Austin saying that he was “unusually strong”. Austin was hit with a stun gun several times but it had little effect. It took four officers and a police dog to subdue the crazed attacker. One deputy described that Austin appeared to be delusional – making animal sounds, grunting and growling – and clinging to Steven’s body when they arrived and “that he was actually biting the victim in the face and causing what turned out to be substantial trauma”.
Austin was taken to a nearby hospital but police say that he might not survive following the injuries that he sustained during the minutes of struggle to take him off the victim’s body.
The victim’s neighbors were shocked as they have known the couple to be friendly people, often keeping their garage door up, with a seat open and a TV on for friends and family.
“John and Michelle were the nicest people,” neighbor Amy Lourie told NBC Miami, saying they would wave to passersby as their dog played outside.
Austin Harrouff, whom authorities said had no criminal record, is the son of divorced couple Wade and Mina Harrouff.
Austin’s friends were bewildered by his grotesque behavior.
At 6-feet-2-inches, he played football and wrestled but the 200-pound pre-exercise science major at Florida State University was described to be gentle and obedient according to his friends and teammates.
“I didn’t think he would hurt a fly, to be honest,” said Matt Dame, the quarterback for the Chargers, Austin’s football team. He further described that Suncoast coaches even had to encourage him to play more aggressively, trying to get him mad and put more pressure on the opposing offense, but it seemed that he never had it in him to play angry against their opponents.
Authorities are now investigating if Austin was possibly under the influence of a synthetic designer drug named flakka, which is almost similar to the drug known as “bath salts”. Flakka is known to invoke a state of “excited delirium” and the worst and most extreme side effects of the drug are severe aggression and even cannibalism.
Austine was tested for cocaine, opiates, methamphetamine and marijuana but all came back negative. Further tests are pending, including the one for flakka.
Flakka was involved in a horrific case in Miami way back 2012 where a suspect was shot dead as he appeared to be eating the face of a homeless man.
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