This story takes place on & in the days before August 15, 2016 in Jupiter, Florida.
In 2016, Austin Harrouff was a 19-year-old sophomore at Florida State University, studying biology, he was a member of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity, he loved weight lifting & idolized Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was a wrestler & a football player in high school. Austin had no criminal history, no history of mental illness, yet this story ends with Austin murdering two innocent people and injuring one.
Austin had an Instagram account highlighting fitness & a YouTube channel that contained videos of himself speaking about fitness & his love of bodybuilding as well as music; he was an aspiring rapper & used the pseudonym “Austifrosti”. His Instagram account BicepBible had over 4,000 followers & his YouTube channel currently has nearly 200k subscribers.
Austin was an advocate for drug-free bodybuilding & often posted about steroids not being natural, beneficial or necessary to his life & anyone else’s. With this, he claimed that he “no longer wants to follow Arnold or any other body builder, I want to follow myself, I want to actually believe in myself… I just know that they’re not me, I know what’s right for me. I don’t need drugs.” Austin basically went on to make the point that being natural was the choice for him & that he felt better looking and being healthy.
It’s eerie but the description of Austin’s YouTube channel read: This that fuck around music y’all been hearing about. I’ve got a psycho side and a normal side. I’ve lost my mind help me find it. In this story, you’ll learn how Austin’s psycho side really came out, ending the lives of two innocent people. Austin was born on December 21, 1996 in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. He had a sister named Haley who was one year younger & his parents had divorced when he was 13-years-old.
Austin’s dad, Wade, was a dentist & as Austin got older, the two became closer. When he was younger, their joint activity of fishing had more or less been forced upon Austin. Austin described his mom, Mina, as “really nice, very motherly” and someone who “made us clean a lot.” He described his sister Haley as being a lot like him; reserved but not while spending time with friends. At the time of this story his mom & dad were both in relationships & living with their partners.
Austin was raised a Presbyterian though described himself as an atheist starting at age 18. During the summer this story takes place, Austin started to have renewed religious feelings & researched Krishna, Buddhism & Jesus. He had his first alcoholic drink at age 17 & began drinking at parties at age 18, sometimes to the point of blacking out. He never drank alone & found that he felt less anxious when he drank. During the summer of 2016, Austin stopped drinking & began focusing more on fitness. He did increase his use of marijuana during this summer, smoking every other day.
On Friday, August 12, 2016, Austin decided to throw away his marijuana, mushrooms and Adderall because he was having “weird feelings.” He did this in front of his mom & her boyfriend, saying he was concerned about “purity” and didn’t want to use anything that would interfere with his body. When later asked, he said he tried mushrooms, LSD, Molly & Xanax once. In college, he used the stimulants Vyvanse about six times & Adderall four times to help him study.
At the time of this story, Austin had no psychiatric history; he said he was very shy & socially anxious & suffered from episodes of sleep paralysis. He had depressive feelings since middle school & as he got older, he said his depressive moods lasted a few hours to a day or two & happened about once a week. He started to have manic episodes in college & his highs and lows became stronger. At the time of this story, he was working as a dental assistant and dating a girl he met in college for about four months.
In early August of 2016, Austin noticed that his thoughts were racing & he was having trouble sleeping, when he visited his girlfriend Katie in Tampa from August 4-7, he was sometimes only sleeping two hours a night. He began seeing images of monsters & demon-like figures as he was just waking up. He also began feeling like he was fearless & had super powers; while working at the dental office, he believed he could “manipulate” the water while sterilizing the dental instruments. He started to feel like Jesus around August 12 & avoided dark clothing because it made him feel “evil.” He became fearful of the dark & avoided it, believing that the devil had power in the dark. In the days before August 15, he feared that a dark spirit would kill him in his sleep.
During this time, Austin’s internet searches included: “How to know if you’re going crazy.” “Think you’re going crazy? A beginner’s guide to psychosis.”
He sent his girlfriend texts in the week before everything goes down in this story:
“I’ve never felt better. I am honestly the happiest I’ve ever been and it feels great. I believe in myself. And I don’t care about anything possibly bad that can happen to me.”
“I think I’m legit crazy.. It’s like I can hardly sleep.”
“I know it’s hard to understand and it’s even harder for me to realize what I am doing but I am literally making the impossible happen.”
“I don’t think I am going crazy. I’m just evolving. Becoming more intelligent. Thinking that I am worthy and just to help others with the pain they have. That’s all I want.”
On Saturday, August 13, Austin began collecting people’s business cards, believing that he could “protect” these people. The next day, he tore up the cards, thinking maybe the cards might have the opposite reaction. During this weekend, he also believed that water was related to the fountain of youth & would keep him young so he drank excessive amounts. He was very fearful of people and animals during this time.
On Sunday, August 14, Austin went to a gun show with his dad, Keri; there he purchased a knife for “protection from everything.”
On Monday, August 15, 2016, Austin woke up early that morning, he wore his Michael Vick Falcons jersey because he believed that he had a special relationship with dogs. Initially he believed that Michael Vick was a bad guy because of sponsoring dog fights but then “became a good guy.” He wore aviator sunglasses because he thought they would protect him from evil.
He went to the beach by himself that morning and “ran like an animal.” He said he jumped from rock to rock like an acrobat, feeling like he was “half dog, half man” and sometimes “half horse, half man.” Austin ran 3-4 miles to his dad’s house to get his car; during this time, he stayed in the middle of the street as cars went around him. He felt invincible.
When his dad came home at lunchtime, Austin must have appeared anxious because his dad told him to take a Xanax but Austin refused. His dad took his car keys from him which prompted Austin to jump on the hood of his dad’s car which prompted his dad to give him his keys back. Finally, Austin took the Xanax from his dad though eventually removed the tablet from his mouth & used it to write on the side of his car “don’t trust.”
Austin went to his friend Sam’s house & when he got there, he jumped on Sam’s car because he felt like an acrobat. They picked up Hayley & went to the beach where they ran into five of Austin’s frat brothers. Austin felt “distant” from his friends so he walked away. After the three left the beach, they stopped at the gas station for snacks. Austin continued to feel “godlike” and feel like he was half horse/half man or half dog/half man, switching between the two.
They headed to the home of a frat brother where others smoked weed and drank alcohol though Austin didn’t partake. He took a beer & poured it on his left hand, believing that it was “feeding his hand.” When they left, Hayley didn’t want Austin to drive because he had done an illegal U turn earlier. While Hayley drove, Austin got in the hatchback because he felt like a dog.
He told Sam & Hayley that he had a sixth sense as they headed to his dad’s house. There, he changed clothes & wore a hat backwards, believing it would “propel him forward.” Austin, Sam, Hayley & his father went for a walk on a nature trail. Austin took out the knife he purchased at the gun show & attempted to take a leadership role but his dad told him to put the knife away. He began to sprint & jumped over a wall; Austin next recalled his dad’s girlfriend, Keri picking him up & taking him to Duffy’s restaurant for dinner with his dad, his dad’s girlfriend and Sam.
While they sat at the table, Austin said he felt “stuck”, describing it as a trapped feeling because it took a long time to get service at the restaurant. He felt the need to leave the restaurant without telling the others, believing he was an “angel of death” and his dad’s girlfriend Keri was an “angel of life.” He said he felt the presence of the Grim Reaper.
He left the restaurant & went to his mom’s house though he doesn’t recall how he got there. His mom found him in the kitchen drinking cooking oil though he has no recollection of this. His mother drove him back to Duffy’s.
Austin went back to the booth where his family sat & his dad grabbed him by his shirt, basically demanding to know what was wrong with him. Austin pulled back his fist though didn’t strike his dad because Keri asked him not to. For the second time, Austin left the restaurant & planned to walk back to his dad’s house. He said he recalls running and “following the stars” & about three quarters of the way to his dad’s house, he saw a dark figure with a white face & believed it to be evil. The “figure” turned out to be a friend of his cousin’s, named Daniel. Daniel said, “Hey, Austin.” Despite recognizing the voice as Daniel’s, he believed that Daniel was trying to kill him so he sprinted away while screaming.
He made a left turn & noticed a white light coming from a garage. This is where everything takes a horrific turn for the worst. 59-year-old John Stevens & 53-year-old Michelle Mischon had been married for 19 years, having met in 1997 at a financial firm in Miami where they both worked. John had two children from a previous relationship. Eventually John changed careers & owned his own landscaping company. At the time of this story, the two were retired & enjoying their calmer lives together. They were a very social, kind & loving couple.The two were madly in love, often riding around the neighborhood in their golf cart with their dog, Rebel, in tow.
John & Michelle often hung out in their garage with the door open, sharing drinks & socializing with neighbors; they had a TV & chairs set up. One of their neighbors, Jeff, was getting ready for bed at about 9:15 that night when he heard the sound of a woman screaming. About five minutes later, Jeff called 911; he told them that he was bleeding profusely & that a young man was beating up a woman in a garage. He said he didn’t know why it was happening or who the person was.
After Jeff heard the woman screaming, he went outside to investigate; he saw John & Michelle’s garage door open, as it often was. He saw a white male, Austin, hitting Michelle; she was lying in a pool of blood, not moving or speaking. As he approached the scene Austin told Jeff, “You don’t want to, you don’t want this, you don’t want any part of this.” Austin began to attack Jeff; striking him on the side of the head. Jeff was able to hit Austin & pull him to the ground. After, Jeff ran through Michelle’s house, exiting the back door & heading back to his own home. This is when he realized he had been stabbed multiple times.
As police arrived, they were met with an absolutely horrific scene. At some point during Austin’s attack on Michelle, John arrived from walking their dog. Austin was in the garage, on top of John, with his legs wrapped around John’s body. When police got closer, they could see that Austin was frantically biting down on John’s face and chest, actually eating his flesh. The police drew their guns though they didn’t fire, fearful they would also hit Jeff. They ended up tazing Austin, though he was completely unfazed & continued to viciously bite at John’s face. They tried though were unable to handcuff Austin. A canine police dog was released & clamped down on Austin’s arm, briefly tearing it away from John. After Austin yanked his arm back, he continued his attack on John. Police began kicking Austin in the head though, again, he was completely unfazed. Eventually they got one hand cuffed & were able to drag Austin off of John. At this point, he screamed to police, asking them to shoot him, to kill him, saying, “fucking kill me fucking kill me, shoot me now, I deserve to die.”
John cried out in pain, bleeding profusely from not only his face, but multiple stab wounds to the torso & sadly, he and his wife Michelle were both pronounced dead at the scene, Michelle’s cause of death was blunt force trauma. Jeff, the neighbor, had stab wounds to his lower back, internal bleeding, broken fingers & cuts to his head & required exploratory surgery to his stomach due to bleeding.
Two hours after the initial attack, about 11pm that night, Austin’s mom, Mina, not knowing yet about what happened, called 911 to report that her son had “taken off” and she was concerned for his safety, reporting that he was acting strange & delusional, this being a recent change.
Austin was taken to the hospital & needed to be sedated due to his continued violence & aggression. His tongue had nearly been chewed off & he had external cuts & abrasions. He was also suffering internal damage, having drank what he thought was alcohol from John & Michelle’s garage though may have been a chemical solution.
Police initially thought Austin could have been high on bath salts or flakka. Toxicology reports were positive for alcohol and trace amounts of marijuana. He was not tested for psilocybin, the hallucinogenic substance from mushrooms because the FBI doesn’t have a validated method. Also, due to search warrant procedures, Austin’s toxicology sample was taken 24 hours after the attack and psilocybin can leave the system in as little as 12 hours.
After Austin was in custody, he had a vague recollection of picking up a “machete or something” and stabbing and biting Michelle, believing he was a dog at the time. He recalled drinking something in the garage. He then recalled seeing a man in the doorway with a dog; this was John. He believed he had stabbed him too. He remembers stabbing Jeff, the neighbor too. He said he doesn’t have words to explain how he feels; he feels like it’s a nightmare. When interviewed by Dr Phil, he said, “I’m sorry for their loss and I hope that you can find it in your heart to forgive me & I’m so sorry & I never wanted this to happen.”
Austin is charged with two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of John & Michelle as well as attempted first-degree murder for his attack on Jeff Fisher. He was found to have been suffering from “severe mental disease” specifically bipolar disorder and acute manic episodes with psychotic features as well as “clinically lycanthropy decisions” also known as werewolf syndrome. In the psychologist’s evaluation, it’s determined that Austin meets criteria for legal insanity. It is specified though, that even with mental illness, an event such as this is highly unusual & that those with mental illness are no more likely to commit violent crimes than ordinary members of the public. Research does show though that violence risk is increased in individuals with a Bipolar Disorder who also engage in substance abuse. When violence does occur, it’s usually involving family members. Neither was the case for Austin. It’s been more than six years since the attacks & Austin’s trial is set to begin in November. He is expected to invoke an insanity defense.
Mental Health helplines:
- The Tab: Who is Austin Harrouff, the fitness freak sophomore who killed two people on Monday?
- Local 10 News: Face-eating suspect Austin Harrouff arranged to buy drugs before attack, texts show
- Miami New Times: What You Should Know Ahead of Accused “Face Eating Murderer” Austin Harrouff’s Trial
- YouTube: That Chapter: The Disturbed Case of Austin Harrouff
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