In the hours and days before authorities say Austin Harrouff fatally stabbed two people to death in their Martin County home and was found biting the face of one of the individuals, the 19-year-old was searching the internet for answers:
“Must I sleep?”
“I think I’m going crazy, am I?”
“What am I?”
These are some of the questions among dozens of other searches, ranging from Satan to murderers, the Jupiter resident entered into a search toolbar with his phone before attacking John Stevens, 59, and Michelle Mishcon, 53, and a neighbor who tried to intervene on Aug. 15, according to court documents recently released by the 19th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office. Harrouff, who remains in the medical wing of the Martin County Jail without bail, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder.
Friends, family and Harrouff’s lawyer have expressed concern about the Florida State University student’s mental health. In the days leading up to the attacks, Harrouff was curious as well, according to court documents.
On Aug. 8, Harrouff asked Google “How to know if you’re going crazy” and “can we really control more than we think,” and opened a WebMD article titled, “What ‘Am I Crazy’ Really Means.” He searched for answers on “hearing things in my sleep” and “obsessive thoughts.”
On Aug. 10, between the hours of 3 and 5 a.m., Harrouff searched “how to relax my mind” and “auditory hallucinations when falling asleep.” He followed up by searching “schizophrenia” and if it was OK to overthink things.
At one point he asked Google, “I think I’m going crazy, am I?”
He opened articles titled “Why aren’t we happier” and “The pursuit of happiness.”
One of Harrouff’s attorneys, Nellie King, gave a statement following the release of the documents and said her client suffered from a mental illness but did not say if he had been diagnosed with a specific disorder.
Between Aug. 12 and Aug. 13, Harrouff searched for Satan, asked Google “what exactly is hell” as well as the biblical figures Adam and Eve. During the summer, Harrouff searched how to sell his soul to the devil, records show.
As his searching continued, he tried to find ways for “positive hypnosis” and getting sober.
Harrouff’s family explained to investigators in a recorded interview that he had hypnotized himself and he believed he couldn’t sleep because of it so he was trying to figure out how to reverse it.
Soon after the attack, friends and family told investigators Harrouff had stopped sleeping. One of his fraternity brothers said Harrouff used to smoke marijuana to help him sleep but Harrouff’s sister said he had stopped smoking and had given all his paraphernalia to his family. Harrouff’s sister detailed to investigators how she was “uneasy” about her brother to the point where she was locking her bedroom door at night. Family members said he’d walk through their house saying he needed to guard them and that he felt an evil presence.
The day before he stormed out of a Duffy’s restaurant where he was having dinner with his family and walked to Southeast Kokomo Lane where John Stevens and Michelle Mishcon were enjoying an evening hanging out in their garage, Harrouff’s internet searches were even more random.
He asked Google, “What am I” and searched “white magic.” Harrouff searched the Thanksgiving Day Massacre in which Paul Michael Merhige shot and killed four family members and injured three others in 2009 in Jupiter. Merhige, who had a history of mental health issues, pleaded guilty in 2012 to the murders after the state said it would seek the death penalty if there was a trial. He is serving seven life sentences in prison.
On the day of the fatal stabbings, Harrouff searched about centaurs, a mythical half-human, half-horse figure. “What’s the weakest thing about a centaur” and “what’s the biggest help to a centaur,” he asked Google. Harrouff’s sister told investigators her brother recently expressed he had “powers,” was immortal and was half-horse, like a centaur.
“He made me uneasy because he was being a different person,” Harrouff’s sister told investigators.