FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) – The mother of a 19-year-old Florida State University student charged with fatally stabbing a couple outside their home and then biting the dead man’s face told police her son had been acting strangely for days and claimed to have superpowers, according to a report released Wednesday.
Mina Harrouff called Jupiter police about three hours after Austin Harrouff stormed out of a restaurant Monday night following an argument with his father, the report said. She told an officer her son had been acting strangely for about a week, said he had superpowers and that he was “here to protect people,” the report said. She told Officer Luis Rocha her son had no history of mental illness nor heavy drug use.
“Mina told me that she does not believe him to be a danger to anyone or to himself,” Rocha wrote.
She and Rocha didn’t know that 45 minutes after he left Duffy’s restaurant, Austin Harrouff had been arrested in neighboring Martin County by sheriff’s deputies, who said they saw him mauling the body of John Stevens, 59. Sheriff William Snyder says Harrouff attacked Stevens and his wife, 53-year-old Michelle Mishcon, randomly as they sat in their garage, stabbing them multiple times.
It took numerous deputies and a dog to subdue Harrouff, a muscular former high school football player and wrestler who shook off electric shocks from a stun gun, Snyder said. He has said Harrouff was “abnormally strong,” incoherent and making “animal-like noises.”
Harrouff was listed in stable condition at a hospital Wednesday and was scheduled to undergo surgery on his hand.
Snyder has said Harrouff tested negative for cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and other common drugs, but that further tests would be conducted to see if he had ingested a hallucinogenic drug like flakka or bath salts.
Harrouff’s attorney, Michelle Suskauer, did not return a call and email seeking comment. Harrouff was charged Wednesday with aggravated battery on a Good Samaritan and will be formally charged later with two counts of first-degree murder.
The family of a neighbor who was injured while trying to stop the attack released the following statement on Wednesday:
“The family would like to thank everyone for the concern shown Jeff. We would especially like to thank all the first responders who came to his aid that Night. Jeff is doing as well as can be expected but he has a long healing process to go through. We are very proud of Jeff and the courage he has shown while attempting to help his friends and neighbors.We have no other comments and ask you to give us time to come together as a family and begin to heal.”
TEQUESTA, Fla. (AP) Deputies arrived at a Tequesta home Monday night to find a gruesome and horrifying scene, a Florida State University student biting the face of a gravely injured man, who was lying in the driveway of a home.
Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said FSU student, Austin Harrouff, 19, attacked John Stevens, 59, and his wife Michelle Mishcon, 53, as they sat in their garage with the door open.
“It looks like an unprovoked and random attack on two people sitting in a garage,” said Sheriff Snyder, who outlined the disturbing details of the attack during a news conference on Tuesday morning.
Snyder said that at 9:20 p.m. on Monday, 911 dispatchers received a call from a neighbor who said he was stabbed while trying to stop an assault at a home across the street from him.
A deputy arrived to find Harrouff on top of Stevens who was lying on the driveway of the home. “He was biting the victim on the face and removing pieces of his face,” said Snyder.
Additional deputies responded and stung Harrouff multiple times with tasers. They also instructed a deputy K9 to attack Harrouff, who showed “abnormal levels of strength.”
“Nothing was working,” said Snyder, referring to the effort to subdue Harrouff.
Snyder said deputies did not fire their guns to try to stop Harrouff because the bullets could have hit the Stevens.
Deputies were able to subdue Harrouff and he was transported to a local hospital where he remained sedated on Tuesday morning. The sheriff said Harrouff was making animal noises and grunting and growling. He is expected to survive.
However, the man who he is accused of attacking did not survive. John Stevens died at the scene. The body of his wife Michelle Mishcon was found in the garage.
Sheriff Snyder said Harrouff used multiple weapons during the attack. Some appeared to have been weapons of convenience, which were inside the garage. A large switchblade knife was also found at the scene.
The sheriff said there was “an enormous amount of violence inside the garage” and the victims suffered from massive lacerations and an unusual amount of trauma. “It does seem apparent our male victim was fighting back,” said Sheriff Snyder.
Snyder said that Harrouff lived with his mother a few miles away and is enrolled at FSU where he is a member of a fraternity. Harrouff was in town with members of his fraternity.
The sheriff said about an hour before the attack, Harrouff was having dinner with his mom and dad at a restaurant and became agitated and left abruptly. His parents called the Jupiter Police Department asking for help finding him.
Sheriff Snyder refused to speculate about if Harrouff may have been on a drug like Flakka or bath salts during the attack. But, he did say that people under the influence of Flakka or bath salts have been known to attack and bite victims. Snyder also said that Harrouff had taken off some of his clothes, but did not have an elevated body temperature, which can happen after taking Flakka or bath salts.
Snyder said that tests will determine if Harrouff was under the influence of drugs. Initial tests conducted after he arrived at the hospital showed that he did not have cocaine, opioids, pot or methamphetamine in his system.
The sheriff said a motive for the attack is not known. Harrouff does not have a criminal record.
Tequesta is a small, affluent community about 20 miles north of Palm Beach.