The following is a chapter from the book “List of Twelve: 12 Terrifying True Crime Murder Cases (Vol 3)”
It was a hot August day in Jupiter, Florida, and the Harrouff family was having lunch at Duffy’s Sports bar. They were joined by their nineteen-year-old son, Austin, who was visiting his parents for the weekend.
Austin was growing impatient and becoming restless as he waited for his order to arrive. His parents, Wade and Mina Harrouff, tried to calm him down. Something that Wade said to Austin only compounded his restlessness. Austin could no longer contain himself and abruptly got up from the table and stormed out of the restaurant. He was walking back to his parent’s home, which was three miles away, when he felt a familiar feeling overcome him. The fear that he experienced would later spark a bizarre and horrific crime that would receive national attention.
Frat Boy Behaves Strangely
Born December 21st, 1996, Harrouff was a native of Jupiter. Besides his parents, he had a sister named Haley. Harrouff was well-liked by all those who knew him. He was seen to be nice, helpful, and polite. An active child, he loved sports. In high school, he was on the wrestling team and played football. His muscular body and good looks made him stand out in a crowd. He later attended Florida State University, where he majored in exercise science. He also belonged to the fraternity Alpha Delta Phi.
In the months leading to that fateful August day, those who knew Harrouff noted significant changes in his behavior. It started off with him telling his parents that their house was haunted. He became so upset by this that he moved his bed into the garage, which was to become his new room.
In particular, he was fearful of a demon he referred to as Daniel. He also told his mother that he had superhuman powers and was sent to Earth to help others. One day, Mina was cooking and had prepared a bowl containing cooking oil and cheese. She had stepped out of the kitchen to get something. When she returned, she caught her son drinking cooking oil, straight from the bottle, and eating the mixture from the bowel.
It was because of his strange behaviors that his mother became alarmed when he stormed out of Duffy’s on August 16th, 2016. She called the Jupiter police department and his fraternity to assist her in finding him.
When she spoke with the police, she informed them he was not a danger to himself or others. Her statements were not without merit. Harrouff was not violent, did not take drugs, nor had he ever been charged with a crime. Still, she had a bad feeling about the situation. Unfortunately, her concerns would come true.
Under the sweltering heat of the day, Harrouff walked home from Duffy’s. He lived on Southeast Kokomo Lane, almost three miles away. With every step he took, the fear within him grew stronger. Soon, he was in fear for his life. He felt the presence of Daniel looming over him.
As he walked, he began stripping off clothes until he was semi-naked. He did not remove his clothes because of heat as much as it was to escape a strange feeling he was experiencing, a feeling he could not explain.
Harrouff would later say in an interview, “I just needed to find someone to help me to figure out where I am…I don’t even remember what I said to myself. I just remember being afraid, scared.” That interview would be with Dr. Phil McGraw but would never air.
John Stevens and Michelle Mishcon were a married couple who lived close to the Harrouff house. Stevens was 59 and worked as a landscaper. Mishcon was 53, and a housewife. They would routinely bring their portable television to the driveway, where they would watch it. It gave them the opportunity to enjoy the open air and chat with people passing by. On this day, Mishcon sat in her folding chair, watching her show.
The garage door was open, and Stevens was inside the house. He was finishing up on a project and was planning to join his wife outside.
The glass of lemonade she was drinking was almost empty, so Mishcon got up from her folding chair and went inside for a refill. She entered the house through the garage; it was at this point when Harrouff found himself in front of their home. He did not know Stevens or Mishcon. He did not know why he was there or how he got there. All Harrouff knew was that he was feeling afraid and not feeling like himself. He walked up the driveway and made his way into the garage.
Inside the garage, he saw tools hanging neatly on the wall. He also saw cans of paint and bottles of different liquids. He grabbed a bottle, removed the lid, and drank from it. He felt a burning sensation in his throat. It was at that point Mishcon stepped back into the garage. She let out a scream as she saw the near-naked Harrouff standing in their garage. Harrouff was just as surprised to see her. Her screams aggravated him. He hit her repeatedly with his fist until she succumbed to his beatings and lay motionless on the garage floor. Harrouff saw a machete on the wall and grabbed it. He swung it at her multiple times, leaving deep cuts in her lifeless body.
Turning around, Harrouff saw Stevens in the doorway that led to the garage. Stevens saw his wife’s body on the floor of the garage. Before he could even react, Harrouff ran at him. Stevens ran in the house, but it was no use; Harrouff was much faster than him. He beat Stevens and then stabbed him repeatedly with a pocket knife he carried.
Jeff Fisher, who lived in the neighborhood, heard Mishcon’s screams and headed over to investigate. Before he could see Mishcon’s body, Harrouff charged him. Fisher ran away, but Harrouff stabbed him three times. Fisher was able to escape and run home, where he called 911.
A Grisly Feast
Deputies from the Martin County Sheriff’s department arrived at the house of Stevens and Mishcon. They found Mishcon’s blood-soaked body in the garage. As bad as that was, they were greeted by a sight even more horrific when they entered the home. In the living room, they discovered Harrouff on top of Stevens, who was barely alive. Harrouff was chewing on the side of Stevens’s face as he made animal-like sounds.
The deputies ordered Harrouff to get off Stevens, but he refused. They used a stun gun on him, but it didn’t affect him. Harrouff did not get off Stevens till police dogs were released on him. It took three deputies to restrain him after due to the incredible strength he exhibited. As the three deputies secured him, another deputy checked on Stevens. It was too late; he was dead. Harrouff yelled at the deputies, “Fucking kill me, fucking kill me! Shoot me now! I deserve it!”
Harrouff was arrested and taken to the sheriff’s station, where detectives interviewed him. While not denying anything, he was not able to explain why he committed the crime. As the interview progressed, Harrouff claimed his throat was burning. He was taken to the emergency room, where he was examined; his esophagus was burned from the chemical he drank in Stevens garage. He had pieces of human flesh and hair stuck between his teeth.
The Dr. Phil Interview
Harrouff was hospitalized at St. Mary’s Hospital for treatment of his chemical burn. He slipped into a coma for 11 days, preventing him from being formally arrested. As they waited for Harrouff to awaken from his coma, the sheriff’s department requested a blood sample. It was tested for hallucinogenic drugs, due to his bizarre behavior and great strength displayed while being arrested, they were sure he must have taken something. To their surprise, his blood test came back clean.
While he was still in the hospital, and after waking from the coma, Harrouff was interviewed by the Dr. Phil Show via Skype. The following are some excerpts from the interview:
When Phil McGraw asked him how he felt about what he had done, he responded, “I felt terrible. And I really, really don’t have words to explain how I feel. It’s like, it’s like a nightmare.”
McGraw asked him what his thoughts were about what happened. Harrouff replied, “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. I never imaged this would ever happen. And I’m deeply sorry to the family affected. I hope something like this never happens again. I didn’t ever want to consciously do something like this. I never planned it. I didn’t want to do it. And, like, I don’t know what to say.”
When asked what he would like to say to the victim’s family, he replied, “I’m sorry for their loss. And I hope that you can all find it in your hearts to forgive me. And I’m so sorry, and I never wanted this to happen.”
Harrouff was very emotional during the interview, often breaking down in tears. Those who knew him could not conceive of him committing a crime, let alone one so horrendous.
Another puzzling piece of his past was a letter he wrote himself January 6th, 2014:
The way I see myself may or may not be different from the way others see me. I view myself as happy, shy, nice, positive, and I never give up. I view myself as happy because usually I have view things to feel sad or depressed about. One of the main things I dislike about myself is that I am shy. I want to be confident and assertive. I am not that shy around close friends because after I get to know someone, I’ll start to open up more toward them. I also see myself as nice because I will go out of my way to help people.
Harrouff was formally arrested upon being discharged from the hospital and charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. At his arraignment, he pled not guilty, and the prosecution agreed not to seek the death penalty.
His trial is set to begin on June 17th, 2019.
On another legal note: The Dr. Phil interview was released to a local news station after a legal request was made under Florida’s public information law. Harrouff’s defense lawyer argued that the release of the interview would be prejudicial against his client; however, a circuit judge from Martin County ruled in favor of the news station.
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