Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Face-biter said he fled demon-like figure before killings

Published:Wednesday | March 1, 2017 | 3:00 AM
Austin Harrouff is transported by detectives to the Martin County Jail from St Mary's Hospital in Florida.

STUART, Florida (AP):

A Florida college 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 slayings.

In a 22-minute interview released yesterday 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 hospitalised last fall.

Harrouff, 20, was arrested upon release from the hospital for 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.

 

EVIDENCE

 

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 majored in 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 doesn't remember how he came face-to-face with Mishcon in the couple's garage. He said she screamed, and "then it's a blur."