Face-eating suspect Austin Harrouff arranged to buy drugs before attack, texts show

Former FSU student sought out hallucinogenic mushrooms, records say

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. – A former Florida State University student accused of killing a Martin County couple and chewing the face of one of the victims arranged to buy hallucinogenic drugs in the days leading up the murders, according to text messages released to Local 10 News this week.

Austin Harrouff, now 22, of Jupiter, is set to go on trial in November on a number of charges, including first-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder.

Harrouff's attorneys have said he was "suffering from a full-blown psychotic episode" when he killed Michelle Mishcon Stevens and John Stevens in their garage Aug. 15, 2016. The victims' neighbor, Jeffrey Fisher, was injured in the attack.

The case attracted international attention because Harrouff was found hovering over John Stevens' body while biting and removing pieces of the victim's face with his teeth, Martin County sheriff's deputies said. He also made growling noises at deputies, prosecutors said.

The family of Michelle Mishcon Stevens is outraged that Harrouff's lawyers are portraying him as a young person with a mental illness who snapped. They said the texts show a clear pattern of drug use that they believe led to the murders.

Thousands of pages of cellphone records have been released by the State Attorney's Office in the case.

The records also include notes that Harrouff wrote to himself, as well as his internet search history.

Searches included "how to know if your going crazy," "apply to become an Illuminati member" and "exploding head syndrome."

Just hours before the attack, Harrouff wrote: "I wish to be normal just a normal guy. Not too nice not too mean. But I can still run because I can't be tamed."

Sometime later he wrote: "Centaur you are awoken. Don't let them kill you."

The records show Harrouff was questioning his sanity and possibly using drugs in the days before the attack.

In one exchange six days before the killings, Harrouff asked an unknown person for drugs. 

"I don't need anymore weed but are the shrooms good?" Harrouff wrote.

"Yeah, they're golden teacher, properly dried and cured," the person replied.

"How much would it take me to trip but not too bad?" Harrouff asked.

The person said the mushrooms "gave my friend solid materialized visuals and put him close to the edge of uncomfortable."

"Alright sweet I'll take it," Harrouff wrote.

In another set of messages, Harrouff's friends speculated on the day of the killing in a group chat that drugs contributed to the violence. 

"Maybe he did flacka," Davit Kis, referring to a street drug that has been known to cause violent and bizarre behavior in users.

Dylan Lemmon added, "He was definitely on something."

"He did do flacka," Kis said.

However, toxicology reports did not find Flacka in Harrouff's system after the attacks, his attorneys said. 

He tested positive for alcohol and trace amounts of marijuana.  After the attacks, Harrouff was severely injured when authorities believe he ingested household chemicals stored in the Stevenes' garage. The defense attorneys said that could explain the presence of alcohol in his system.

Authorities did not test for psilocybin, the hallucinogenic substance from mushrooms, because the FBI does not have a validated method to test for the substance. The FBI also noted in its report that psilocybin can leave a user's system in about 12 hours. Because of search warrant procedures, the sample used in the toxicology test was taken about 24 hours after the attack.

"Dude he wasn't psycho it was the drugs," a person identified as Gleggy wrote in the group chat.  "He's famous now lol … He got what he wanted."

About the Authors:

Jeff Weinsier joined Local 10 News in September 1994. He is currently an investigative reporter for Local 10. He is also responsible for the very popular Dirty Dining segments.