As Mina Harrouff searched with family and friends for her son, Austin, on Aug. 15, 2016, she came upon a crime scene about a block from her ex-husband’s Martin County home.
She walked up to a deputy and asked if investigators had seen her son, then 20. He was wearing white shorts and a blue polo shirt, she said.
“I said, ‘What’s going on?’ And they said it’s a domestic dispute. So I’m like, ‘Well, it can’t be him,’ ” she said to investigators, remembering that night. “I was so grateful it wasn’t. But then it turned out it (was him).”
More details about that night have emerged from recently released interviews with Harrouff’s parents, describing the hours before their son fatally attacked John Stevens III, 59, and his wife, 53-year-old Michelle Mishcon.
Harrouff, who is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder, remains in the Martin County Jail, where he is being held without bail. The story made international headlines after authorities said they found Harrouff on top of Stevens, biting his face.
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The interviews were recorded in the days after the attacks and as Austin Harrouff remained at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, recovering from the effects of something he drank in the garage of Stevens’ and Mishcon’s home on Southeast Kokomo Lane, just north of the Jupiter border.
When Wade Harrouff was interviewed, he told investigators that during the weekend before the attacks, his son also walked out on dinner with family, like he had at Duffy’s Sports Grill on the night of the murders.
With a lawyer by his side, Harrouff told a Martin County sheriff’s deputy and an assistant state attorney that his son was quiet that evening.
“(I told him) I want my ‘Frosti’ back. Stop being so serious. I want my old Austin back,” Wade Harrouff remembered pleading.
“AustiFrosti” was a name Austin Harrouff used on his YouTube channel where he recorded freestyle raps. In some videos, he appeared to be much like any other young adult posting on social media: a goofy college student who sometimes offered fitness advice. In other, more recent videos, Harrouff rapped lyrics that said he “got a psycho side and a normal side. I’ve lost my mind. Help me find it.”
That night at dinner, Wade Harrouff said his son refused his pleas and just told him he wasn’t doing drugs or drinking anymore like he had in the past. The next thing Wade Harrouff knew, his son was nowhere to be found. An hour later, he told investigators, he got a call saying Austin Harrouff was home safe and had gotten a ride from someone.
On the night of the fatal attacks, Harrouff was at Duffy’s with his family when he left twice. First, his father said he went to the bathroom and didn’t return. His mother told investigators she was making dinner at home when he knocked on the door.
Once inside, he attempted to drink a bottle of cooking oil before she stopped him. She then asked if he wanted her to drive him back to the Duffy’s and he said yes. On the ride over, they talked more.
“I said I’m worried about you — I don’t remember the exact words — I just want to take you to go to counseling . Maybe there’s someone outside that you can talk to if you’re uncomfortable talking to us,” she told investigators.
“And I said, “Will you go?” And he said, ‘OK. I’ll go.’ He said it twice. ‘I’ll go. I’ll go.’ And then I dropped him off (at Duffy’s.)”
When he got back there, he got into a fight with his father.
“And I said, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ And he didn’t say nothing. So I grabbed him by the collar and said, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ ”
Then, Harrouff walked out again. This time, he didn’t make it back home.
Family and friends had noticed Harrouff’s behavior had changed in the weeks before the murders: He claimed he had super powers, said he was immortal and became interested in religion.
One of the other major changes? He wasn’t sleeping.
On the morning before the fatal attacks, Austin Harrouff walked to his father’s home to pick the car he had left there the night before. When he got there, his father talked to him about his sleeping issues. Wade Harrouff told law enforcement that he offered his son some of his own Valium.
“I give them to him and he throws them on the floor,” Wade Harrouff recalled to investigators. “And he goes, ‘I will not be controlled by you.’ ”
In reaction, Wade Harrouff said he took his son’s car keys. That’s when he said his son jumped on the hood of his father’s car and allegedly dented it.
“So, I give him his keys back so he doesn’t damage my car any further,” he said in the interview.
Then he texted him afterward and said, “You damaged my car.”
Austin allegedly replied: “Learn.”