By David Boroff: A Florida teen who brutally killed a couple outside their home and bit off part of the husband’s face should face the death penalty, a relative of the victims said.
Capital punishment and life without parole are possible fates for Austin Harrouff, who will be charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and burglary in the fatal attack on Michelle Mishcon and John Stevens III in Tequesta. Harrouff also faces an attempted first-degree murder charge for repeatedly stabbing a neighbor who tried to help the couple.
Before the charges were announced, John Stevens IV said he doesn’t need to know exactly what led the Florida State University student to kill his father and stepmother on Monday night, but he wants Harrouff to pay the ultimate price.
“It is not super important to me what his mindset was,” Stevens told the Sun Sentinel on Thursday. “I just want to see the prosecutor ask for the death penalty. I want him to go through that process and to pay for what he did.”
“I hope he makes a full recovery so he can be put through the justice system,” his sister Ivy Stevens told the press.
Investigators “know the who, the what, the when, the where and the how” of the attack, but the why remains a mystery, according to Martin County Sheriff William Snyder.
The 19-year-old Harrouff was hospitalized following the attack, and authorities were not immediately sure if he would survive. He is now conscious, but is heavily sedated and using a breathing tube. He is under heavily armed guard.
Parents Wade and Mina Harrouff issued a statement Friday expressing their condolences to the Stevens family and their apologies to Fisher “for the pain and suffering caused by Austin.”
“There are no words we can offer to give any real comfort for this tragic loss,” the statement says. “We love our son and know that he is not the person some are making him out to be.”
Harrouff was having dinner Monday night with his father and sister at Duffy’s, a popular sports bar about three miles from the crime scene, and stormed out, possibly agitated about slow service. Authorities released surveillance video on Friday that showed the teen leaving the restaurant.
His parents were so worried about his behavior that evening, they called police and some of his friends to try to find him.
His mother, still unaware of the attack, told Jupiter Police Offficer Luis Rocha that her son had been acting strangely for about a week, claiming he had superpowers and that he was “here to protect people.” She said her son had no history of mental illness nor heavy drug use.
It took several deputies and a police dog to subdue Harrouff, who may have been under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs such as flakka or bath salts. Experts say he may have been on N-Bomb, the world’s deadliest designer drug. It will likely take 1-3 weeks for the test results to be known.
Neighbor Jeff Fisher was released from the hospital on Thursday after suffering five stab wounds while trying to stop Harrouff. Authorities say he intervened after hearing the screams of the 53-year-old Mishcon.
“Jeff from across the street is a hero,” John Stevens IV told the Sun Sentinel. “Without Jeff he could have easily gone from that house to the next one.”