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Man found biting victim's face after double-murder in Florida 'thought he had superpowers'

Investigators believe the suspect may have taken flakka or another psychostimulant drug

Published 18/08/2016

A university student who was found biting a man’s face after allegedly killing him and his wife in the US claimed he had “superpowers”.

Austin Harrouff’s mother was searching for the 19-year-old at the time of the attack on Monday, after he stormed out of a restaurant following an argument with his father.

A police report said Mina Harrouff described her son acting strangely for a week, claiming he had superpowers and was “here to protect people”.

“Mina told me that she does not believe him to be a danger to anyone or to himself,” officer Luis Rocha wrote in a statement taken during the search for the teenager.

Harrouff, a student at Florida State University, was allegedly found tearing off parts of a man’s face with his teeth 45 minutes after leaving the restaurant.

Police were called by a neighbour who tried to stop the attack at the couples’ home in Tequesta, Florida.

William Snyder, the Martin County Sherriff, said a female police officer arrived at the scene to find the suspect on top of 59-year-old John Stevens, topless and biting his face.

The officer shot him with a Taser but it had no effect, he said, and when she tried to pull the topless suspect off his victim he showed “abnormal levels of strength”.

Two more officers arrived but were still unable to remove the suspect and could not safely shoot him, fearing the bullets would hit Mr Stevens.

“He was not feeling pain, not responding to a dog biting, not responding to a Taser, three or four people pulling him off,” Mr Snyder said.

The suspect was eventually removed but Mr Stevens was pronounced dead on his driveway, while his wife Michelle Mishcon, 53, was found dead in the garage.

Police said the couple had been beaten and stabbed in what appeared to be a “completely unprovoked and random attack” as they sat on a sofa in their open garage, which was covered in decorations and fairy lights.

“There was an enormous amount of violence in that garage,” Mr Snyder said, adding that there was no connection between the couple and Harrouff.

He was taken to hospital, where his condition deteriorated on Thursday night and he is unable to speak because of a breathing tube.

Harrouff, who had no criminal record, is  being held under guard and was scheduled to undergo surgery on his hand.

A routine drug screening showed no trace of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin or other common drug, causing investigators to turn to hallucinogenics including flakka or “bath salts”.

Flakka, nicknamed “gravel”, has recently been banned in the UK and US because of the “excited delirium” it causes.

“We know in our business that people on flakka or bath salts will do this type of behaviour where they attack the victim and do the biting and remove pieces of flesh,” Mr Snyder said, adding that the Harrouff was making “animal-like” sounds in hospital.

“What happened during that walk that led to a level of violence that was unprecedented in normal police work?"


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