Face bite suspect said he was fleeing demon-like figure

A Florida student accused of randomly killing a couple in their garage and chewing on the dead man’s face told television psychologist Phil McGraw he was fleeing a demon-like figure named Daniel and only had a vague recollection of the incident.

In a 22-minute interview released on Tuesday by prosecutors, Austin Harrouff said he lost his wits as he walked back to his father’s home after storming out of a restaurant where they had an argument.

McGraw asked about "the devil talking to you", and Harrouff went on to describe a "dark figure" he called Daniel.

"I got scared out of my mind," Harrouff told McGraw, who interviewed him by computer when the former high school wrestler and football player was still in hospital last autumn.

Austin Harrouff

Harrouff, 20, was arrested upon release from the hospital over the August 15 deaths of John Stevens, a 59-year-old landscaper, and his wife Michelle Mishcon, 53.

Both had been beaten and stabbed.

He could face the death penalty if convicted of murder.

The interview, which is now evidence in the case, was scheduled to air on McGraw’s Dr Phil show last October 28 but was pulled at the last minute without explanation.

Prosecutors released it without comment after NBC affiliate WPTV hired lawyers to seek its release under the state’s public information law.

Harrouff, a bodybuilder who studied exercise science at Florida State University, said he stripped off most of his clothes as he tried to run away from Daniel.

McGraw asked what he was thinking.

"I just need to find someone to help me, to figure out where I am," said Harrouff, speaking in a steady, even voice as his father, dentist Wade Harrouff, stood just off camera.

"I don’t even remember what I said to myself. I just remember being afraid, scared."

He said he does not remember how he came face-to-face with Ms Mishcon in the couple’s garage.

He said she screamed, and "then it’s a blur".

"I don’t remember what she said - I just remember being yelled at," Harrouff said.

He said he grabbed a machete he found in their garage, but does not remember any more.

"It’s like it happened but I wasn’t aware of it at the time," Harrouff said, crying.

"I don’t know, I don’t know. If I knew, I would tell you."

Harrouff said he drank something he found in the garage after the incident.

He refused to say what it was, but it severely burned his oesophagus.

He denied ever using steroids or hallucinogenic drugs such as flakka or bath salts. None showed up in his blood tests.

When sheriff’s deputies arrived, they said they found Harrouff on top of Mr Stevens, chewing his face.

It took numerous deputies, jolts from an electric stun gun and bites from a police dog to pull him off, they said.

They did not shoot Harrouff because they feared hitting Mr Stevens, they said.

McGraw ended the interview by promising to work with Harrouff’s father to learn why he snapped.

"You keep hanging in there and we are going to look for answers," McGraw told him.

Harrouff’s family has said he had been acting strangely for weeks before the incident.

His mother, Mina Harrouff, told police he claimed to have superpowers and that he had been sent to help people.

She said his bed had been moved to the garage because he thought there were demons in the house, and that a few hours before the incident, she stopped him from drinking cooking oil from the bottle, only to find him eating a bowl of cooking oil and cheese.


More in this Section

Brexiteers launch alternative vision for Withdrawal Agreement

Banker 'texted partner after high-class escort was bludgeoned to death,' murder trial hears

Trump’s ex-lawyer Michael Cohen gets three years in prison

LIVE: Theresa Mary will not lead Tories into next election


7 of the most head-scratching crimes of fashion committed in 2018

Child’s love for Mary Poppins: UK children's Laureate breaks down the iconic nanny's reboot

Stepping out of the shade: Choose colour for this years festive partywear

More From The Irish Examiner