Face-eating suspect Austin Harrouff apologizes to victims' families in newly released video

Family members say they'll 'never accept' apology from former FSU student

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor

STUART, Fla. - A 20-year-old man accused of killing a couple in Martin County in August and chewing on the dead man's face said in a newly released video that he's sorry for what happened.

Martin County prosecutors on Tuesday released copies of an interview Dr. Phil McGraw had with Austin Harrouff last fall for his "Dr. Phil" show. The segment never aired.

Authorities said Harrouff left a family dinner at Duffy's restaurant in Jupiter on Aug. 14 when he walked to the neighborhood of Michelle Mishcon Stevens and John Stevens and attacked them in their garage.

Detectives said the couple's neighbor, Jeffrey Fisher, 47, was attacked while trying to help them. He was released from the hospital days after the attack.

Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said deputies found Harrouff on top of Stevens, biting and removing pieces of the victim's face with his teeth.

Snyder said the first deputy who arrived tried to stop Harrouff with a Taser, but that didn't stop him. More deputies and a K-9 unit were called and eventually overpowered him.

Harrouff told McGraw that the incident is "like a blur" to him.

"I don't think I was thinking straight," he said.

Harrouff, who was a student at Florida State University at the time, denied ever doing steroids. Four days before the attack, Harrouff posted a video to YouTube in which he said he had decided not to be a bodybuilder and had renounced steroids, saying that he didn't need drugs. He also told McGraw that he has never taken any bath salts or the drug flakka.

McGraw also asked Harrouff about seeing someone named "Daniel" that night. An assistant state attorney told Local 10 News that prosecutors believe Daniel is Harrouff's imaginary friend.

Harrouff described Daniel as a "dark figure" whose voice he heard distinctly.

"When I saw him, I just got scared out of my mind," Harrouff told McGraw, who interviewed him by computer.

McGraw asked Harrouff what the voice said to him.

"It said, 'Hey, Austin,'" Harrouff said.

Harrouff told McGraw that Daniel's presence scared him.

"I just remember being afraid and being scared," Harrouff said.

Harrouff said he stripped off most of his clothes as he tried to run away from Daniel. Harrouff said he doesn't remember how he came face-to-face with the couple in their garage, but he remembered her yelling at him.

"I hope that you can find it in your heart to forgive me, and I'm so sorry and I never wanted this to happen," Harrouff told McGraw, appealing to the victims' families. "I'm so sorry."

Asked if he was ashamed of what he did, Harrouff answered, "Yes, yes, yes."

Defense attorneys fought to prevent the release of the video, arguing that it would hamper Harrouff's ability to receive a fair trial.

The video "shows Austin when he was in a vulnerable state, recovering from acute medical and psychological trauma in the sanctity of his hospital room," defense attorney Nellie King said in a statement.

King said that "sensationalizing the details of this case pre-trial does nothing to advance justice in the courtroom." 

"Michelle Mishcon's family will never accept an apology from Austin Harrouff or his family that does not come from a place of complete honesty," her siblings said in a joint statement to Local 10 News. "Austin Harrouff's apology is not authentic. He takes no accountability for destroying two families, and he offers nothing more than weak excuses and convenient selective memory. A jury will see right through him to the truth."

Cindy, Jodi, Greg, and Mason Mishcon went on to say that they were "sickened" that Harrouff chose to speak to McGraw and not the police.

"We think this speaks volumes about the type of person Austin Harrouff is," they said. "A person with true regret would take responsibility for one's actions, but Austin Harrouff has chosen not to do that."

They said they are "confident that justice will prevail for Michelle and John."

"It is what keeps us going each day," they said.

Harrouff has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. He is being held without bond.

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