Deputies: Victim was alive when face was bitten by Austin Harrouff


Martin County sheriff’s deputy Grace Zopf told investigators when she saw Austin Harrouff wrapped around John Stevens III and ripping pieces of flesh from his face, she didn’t know what she was looking at.

After Harrouff was tased, kicked and bitten by a dog, he wasn’t budging.

With her gun drawn, Zopf ordered Harrouff to let go of Stevens again.

“(Expletive) shoot me,” the 19-year-old shouted. “Just kill me.”

Then, there was another voice.

“I heard a soft voice say, ‘Help me, get him off me,’ ” Zopf told investigators.

MORE ONLINE: Read The Post’s complete coverage of the slayings of John Stevens and Michelle Mishcon.

Stevens was still alive when deputies found Harrouff biting his face in his southern Martin County driveway Aug. 15, according to interview transcripts released by the 19th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office. Stevens, 59, along with his wife, Michelle Mishcon, 53, were later pronounced dead at the scene on Southeast Kokomo Lane, just north of the Jupiter border.

Harrouff, of Jupiter, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder.

Zopf, who was the first deputy on the scene, said she was in shock.

“When I first arrived I drew my gun, and I had to take a second to realize what I was seeing,” she said. “I wasn’t sure that I was seeing what I was seeing: This man biting the chest of another man and hearing the sound of, you know, flesh being ripped.”

Zopf said there was no opportunity to shoot Harrouff because of his position on Stevens, and when she used her Taser, it had no effect.

Deputy Wayne Trocan, the second on the scene, said he used his Taser and stomped on Harrouff’s head, which made Harrouff let go of Stevens for a minute, but officers couldn’t get handcuffs on him. Harrouff latched onto Stevens again.

“The victim was talking, I believe. I thought he was talking and moaning and asking for help,” Trocan said. “The way this guy (Harrouff) was on him, he was not releasing.”

He said Harrouff and Stevens were on the ground and Harrouff held Stevens in a “bear hug” from behind.

After a police dog attacked Harrouff and Trocan kicked him in the head again, deputies were able to place him in handcuffs. Photos from the scene show Harrouff face down on the pavement, hands cuffed behind his back, soaked in blood from head to toe.

When Harrouff was transported to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, he told deputies he “ate something bad.” Deputies said he spit out what appeared to be a piece of flesh and hair was found in between his teeth.

When asked what he ate, Harrouff replied, “humans.” The deputy didn’t understand what he said and asked him again.

“He answered louder: ‘Humans,’ ” according to one report.

Investigators initially thought Harrouff may have been under the influence of a designer drug such as flakka during the attacks. But a thorough drug test from the Federal Bureau of Investigation revealed only traces of marijuana and alcohol in his system.

Family, friends and one of Harrouff’s attorneys, Nellie King, say the Florida State University student suffers from mental illness, but did not say if he had been diagnosed with a specific disorder.

“Austin is struggling with severe mental illness and the judicial process will bear all of this out in due time,” King wrote in a statement last week.

Family said before the attacks, Harrouff said he was “immortal” and had “powers.” His sister told investigators she locked her bedroom door at night because he made her “uneasy.”


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