Written by: Sherlene
Nineteen-year-old college student Austin Harrouff murdered John Stevens, 59, and his wife Michelle Mishcon, 53, in their Florida home on 15 August 2016. He allegedly beat, stabbed and chewed a piece of Steves’ face off.
When police officers arrived at the scene, they saw that Harrouff was ‘in his underwear, making animal noises and biting Stevens’ face as he pinned the man’s body to the driveway’, (as reported by www.dailymail.co.uk). Despite one of the police officers holding the teenager at gunpoint and ordering him to get off of Stevens, Harrouff did not listen. The officers could not shoot Harrouff as they did not want to risk shooting Stevens. At last, another officer arrived with a police dog and it bit Harrouff, enabling the officers to pry him off of Stevens and handcuff him.
At that point, the teenager begged the officers to kill him for he claimed that he deserved to die. He then asked the officers for help, saying that he had eaten something bad. He proceeded to spit out a piece of flesh, which was the human flesh of Stevens.
Gruesome, isn’t it?
After the incident, Harrouff ‘was hospitalized for two months after the murders for a burned esophagus, possibly from ingesting chemicals found in the couple’s garage’, (as reported by www.dailymail.co.uk).
Before the incident, it was reported that Harrouff had been acting strange. His mother reportedly found him eating cheese with cooking oil in her kitchen. ‘He called himself an ‘animal’, made comments about being immortal, and watched ‘self hypnosis videos’ on the computer in his bedroom’, his mother said. His sister also filmed videos of him acting out of the ordinary, two of which was him saying, “All this pain and sorrow because I solve all the problems people have,” and “I’ve become almost immortal, I have to die one day.”
It was revealed that Harrouff had been suffering from severe anxiety, depression and bullying. His father claimed that his son was schizophrenic, saying ‘it runs in the family’.
Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder which causes the patient to experience hallucinations, dilutions, extreme disordered thinking and to perceive reality in an abnormal manner, (as said by website http://www.mayoclinic.org/).
Investigators initially thought that he was under the influence of drugs or synthetic drugs, which could cause a person to experience ‘paranoia, nightmarish visions and periods of superhuman strength’. However, a toxicology report showed that there were no traces of drugs in his system, with the exception of a small trace of marijuana. However, the amount was too small to have an effect on him.
In the weeks before the murder occurred, he carried out several google searches, which were related to his odd behavior, Satanism, the illuminati, hypnosis, and many more appalling subjects. Some of his most ‘bizarre’ searches would include ‘selling your soul to the devil’, ‘auditory hallucinations when falling asleep’ and ‘can you psych yourself’.
I personally believe that Harrouff is innocent and should not receive strict or heavy punishment, despite his committing first-degree murder. It is never one’s fault that they have a mental disorder or problem. It is no one’s fault. However, I feel that his family, who noticed changes in his behavior, should have reached out to medical professionals and placed him in a rehabilitation facility. This would have prevented the tragic death of the innocent couple and would have improved Harrouff’s mental health.
What do you think? Is he guilty or should the court show him leniency as he could be mentally disabled? Or should it be that the family receives some sort of punishment for irresponsibility?
Chia, Jessica, 2016. Cannibal frat boy’ Austin Harrouff researched psychic powers, schizophrenia and how he could ‘sell his soul to the devil’ before he ‘murdered a Florida couple and ate the husband’s face. Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3972518/Cannibal-frat-boy-researched-Satan-psychosis-hallucinations-murdered-Florida-couple.html (26 November 2016)
Dailymail.com, 2016. Handcuffed and covered in blood: Shocking crime scene photos show ‘cannibal frat boy’ minutes after he ‘murdered couple and ate one victim’s face’ – as tests show he had NO drugs in his system. Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3966932/Pictures-aftermath-Cannibal-frat-boy-killing-Florida.html (24 November 2016)
Mayo Clinic Staff, UNKNOWN. Schizophrenia. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/schizophrenia/home/ovc-20253194 (24 November 2016)
Chia, Jessica, 2016. Cannibal frat boy’ Austin Harrouff researched psychic powers, schizophrenia and how he could ‘sell his soul to the devil’ before he ‘murdered a Florida couple and ate the husband’s face. Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3972518/Cannibal-frat-boy-researched-Satan-psychosis-hallucinations-murdered-Florida-couple.html (29 November 2016)
Hark, Danielle, 2014. Danielle Hark Speaks on Fighting Mental Illness with Photography. Available at: http://www.thephoblographer.com/2014/08/08/danielle-hark-speaks-fight-mental-illness-photography/#.WD1gFKJ96Rs (8 August 2016)