TEQUESTA, Fla. — No hallucinogenic drugs were found in the system of a Florida teenager who was arrested in August after being found growling and biting off the face of a man he had just murdered.
Some had suspected that 19-year-old Austin Harrouff had been on flakka or bath salts, as Christian News Network’s previous report “Drugs or Demons? Teenager Found Biting Off Man’s Face in Florida Murder Case” outlined.
But a toxicology report released by the FBI on Wednesday states that neither of those drugs were found in Harrouff’s system, and only a trace amount of marijuana was detected.
As previously reported, police in Tequesta were alerted of the situation after neighbor Jeff Fisher called 911 when he had been stabbed trying to stop an attack on 59-year-old John Joseph Stevens III and 53-year-old Michelle Karen Mishcon.
When police arrived on the scene, they found Harrouff on top of Stevens and pulling the skin off his face with his teeth. Sheriff William Snyder told reporters that Harrouff was also “grunting and growling,” and “making animal noises.”
“When [the officer] got there, she realized that the offender was actually biting the victim in the face and causing what turned out to be some substantial trauma to his face from bite marks,” he told NBC Miami.
Police made several attempts to pull Harrouff off Stevens.
“Somebody not feeling pain, not responding to a dog bite, repeated stuns from a taser, taking three to four deputies and officer dog to get him off—that’s somebody with a lot more strength than you would normally encounter,” Snyder told CBS12.
The deputies were eventually able to pray Harrouff away and took him into custody. Stevens was pronounced dead on the scene, and Mishcon was discovered deceased in the garage.
A police report notes that when Harrouff was arrested, he said to the officers, “Help me, I ate something bad,” and when they asked him what, he replied, “Humans.” He also asked officers to shoot him, stating, “[Expletive], just kill me. I want to die.”
The Associated Press also reports that Harouff’s mother told police that her son had been claiming to have superpowers and that his bed had been moved to the garage because he thought that there were demons in the house.
She had called 911 the night of the attack after he walked off from a meal at a restaurant, stating that she was concerned as he was “acting a little strange” and thought perhaps he had schizophrenia. Harrouff’s father has made similar remarks.
“Wade Harrouff said that after they were seated, his son complained that the food was taking too long and left. Harrouff apparently walked to his mother’s house nearby, where she said she found him about to drink cooking oil. She said she told him to stop,” the Associated Press reports. “She said she soon found him eating a bowl of cooking oil mixed with cheese. After Wade Harrouff called her, she took her son back to the restaurant.”
A friend of the teen also said that Harrouff had told him that he thought he was half-animal, half-human.
Harouff spent weeks in the hospital following the attack and suffered burns in his throat, as well as internal injuries, after consuming lawn chemicals found in his victims’ garage.
He pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and burglary last week.
Nellie King, one of Harrouff’s attorneys, told the Palm Beach Post that although police speculated at first that Harrouff had been on flakka or bath salts because of his behavior and superhuman strength, she believes he “is struggling with severe mental illness and the judicial process will bear all of this out in due time.”
“We know this information will be of no comfort to the victims’ families and friends, but, as painful as this process is, it is critical for everyone involved to examine the facts and avoid jumping to conclusions,” King said.