Fatal Florida face-biting attacks called random, 'crazed'

Updated 3:10 p.m. ET Nov. 23, 2016: FBI test results show no evidence that Austin Harrouff, the 19-year-old authorities say killed two people in their Martin County home and was found biting one of their faces, had either bath salts or flakka in his system at the time of the fatal attacks, according to one of his attorneys, Nellie King.

Original post: A 19-year-old Florida State University sophomore fatally stabbed two Martin County residents while walking home Monday night, authorities said. It took a Taser, a K9 and multiple sheriff's deputies to pull Austin Kelly Harrouff off the man he had killed and from whose face he was biting off pieces of flesh.

The motive?

“We may absolutely never know why,” Martin County Sheriff Bill Snyder said.

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The attack was random, Snyder said. Investigators found no evidence that John Stevens, 59, or Michelle Mishcon, 53, appeared to know Harrouff before the sheriff’s office said he killed them at about 10 p.m. in their home in a high-end community.

The couple were friendly people, often keeping their garage door up, with a seat open and a TV on for friends and family, said Stevens’ brother-in-law, Doug Maddox, as he stood outside their home Tuesday morning. Mishcon was found stabbed to death in that garage and Stevens in the driveway, with Harrouff delusional and clinging to him when deputies arrived.

“It’s just beyond me why that would happen,” Maddox said. “The guy must be crazed.”

Yet doctors tested the teen for drugs such as cocaine, opiates, methamphetamine and marijuana — all of which had negative results, Snyder said.

Test results for other substances known to cause outbursts of excited delirium, such as bath salts and flakka, are pending. The teen took off some of his clothes during the attack, Snyder said, and when he arrived at the hospital, Harrouff was making "animal-like noises" and incoherent. However, he did not have the raised body temperature characteristic of flakka use.

ExploreRelated: What is flakka and what does it do to you?

Austin Harrouff, whom authorities said had no criminal record, is the son of Wade and Mina Harrouff, records show. The couple is divorced, with Mina living in Jupiter and Wade a few block aways from the crime scene. A man who answered the door at Wade Harrouff’s home Tuesday declined to comment. Mina Harrouff was not available for comment.

He played football and wrestled — earning all-conference status — at Suncoast High School in Riviera Beach, from which he graduated in 2015. Snyder described him as “abnormally strong,” but friends called the 6-feet-2 -inch, 200-pound pre-exercise science major gentle and obedient.

“I didn’t think he would hurt a fly, to be honest,” said Matt Dame, the Chargers quarterback during Harrouff’s time as a defensive lineman. He said Suncoast coaches even had to encourage him to pressure the opposing offense more angrily.

ExploreRelated: Neighbors, teammates: Suspect in face-biting deaths wouldn’t ‘hurt a fly’

The chain of events that led to the stabbings — Snyder called it “inexplicable” — began sometime near 9 p.m. at a local resturant, when Harrouff apparently became upset over an issue with the service and left the restaurant. Snyder said his parents called Jupiter police to say they were concerned.

He then walked about four miles toward his father’s home on Merritt Lane. For unknown reasons, he stopped one street short of his father’s home and went to a different house, Snyder said, where he encountered Stevens and Mishcon, the home’s owners since it was built in 2002.

Stevens appeared to fight back, but Harrouff had "weapons of opportunity," meaning items in the garage, at his disposal, Snyder said. He used multiple weapons to kill Mishcon and Stevens, Snyder said. A neighbor tried to intervene but was stabbed, too, and taken into surgery Monday night with "substantial trauma," the sheriff said.

Related: Suspect in face-biting slaying identified as college student, being tested for flakka, bath salts

The neighbor, gasping for breath, called 911 after trying to stop the attack, according to a recording of the call made Monday night. He told Martin County 911 dispatchers that a young man was beating up a woman across the street from his home in the same neighborhood. The neighbor told dispatchers he was bleeding profusely, and that he was stabbed in the back.

“I believe he had a knife,” the caller said.

Later during the call, as he was telling police he didn’t see the knife, the neighbor’s wife said he had three puncture wounds “in the back, in the neck, in the head.” WPTV identified the neighbor as Jeff Fisher.

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Attempts to reach Fisher for comment were unsuccessful.

The medical examiner’s preliminary report on Stevens found he died of multiple stab wounds and blunt trauma. An autopsy report on Mishcon was pending Tuesday.

Snyder said the first deputy tried to stun Harrouff with a Taser when he was atop Stevens, biting his face. Eventually that deputy and a second one were able to subdue and apprehend Harrouff, who originally identified himself to deputies as Austin Moore. Officers said Harrouff did not receive significant blunt trauma.

Snyder said deputies didn’t try to shoot Harrouff, because they didn’t want to hit Stevens.

“It would have been extremely dangerous,” Snyder said.

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