What's Up With The Eating Of People's Faces These Days?
Sheriff: Florida teen who tried to bite off victim’s face is in ‘life-threatening’ condition
Warning: Sensitive Material, Graphic Video Within
Cleve R. Wootson
“Our suspect’s condition has deteriorated since this morning,” Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said at a news conference late Tuesday on Florida’s Treasure Coast. “He is in life-threatening condition and … whether he will ultimately survive is not known at this time.”
The deputy fired her taser at the shirtless Harrouff, but it had no effect.
Other deputies arrived and punched and kicked the suspect. Nothing.
Even a police dog’s bite didn’t deter Harrouff from biting the dead man’s face, authorities said.
“He was exhibiting abnormal levels of strength,” Snyder said Tuesday morning.
In the end, it would take four deputies and the police dog to subdue Harrouff.
As deputies took Harrouff into custody, he was making “guttural sounds and animal noises,” Snyder told The Washington Post, adding that he suspected the teen was high on the synthetic drug flakka.
With Harrouff in custody and on his way to the hospital, investigators surveyed the grisly scene at the home in Jupiter, Fla.
John Joseph Stevens III, 59, was pronounced dead in the driveway. His wife, Michelle Karen Mishcon, 53, was found dead in the garage.
A neighbor who heard their screams and tried to intervene was also stabbed, though he is expected to survive.
Snyder told The Post that Stevens and Mishcon typically spent evenings sitting in their garage with the door open, looking out at the neighborhood and talking. That’s what they were likely doing when Harrouff came across them, the sheriff said.
“It was a random, unprovoked brutal attack on people enjoying a quiet South Florida evening,” Snyder told The Post. “There was an extraordinary amount of violence in that garage.”
The victims were stabbed with Harrouff’s pocket knife and may have been attacked with “tools of opportunity” in the garage, the sheriff said.
They had never met their attacker, Snyder said, and probably had no idea why he wanted to kill them. At Tuesday’s press conference, Snyder said investigators were unable to learn anything from Harrouff about his motive because of his medical condition.
Snyder told The Post that Harrouff’s actions pointed to an overdose of the synthetic drug flakka — a more potent form of what is commonly known as bath salts.
Full toxicology tests aren’t complete, but Snyder said he recognized the signs.
“He exhibited every indication of a flakka overdose — abnormal strength, peeling off some of his clothes, making guttural sounds, fighting with law enforcement, not stopping when a tremendous amount of energy was expended by my deputies,” Snyder said.
Flakka has also been referred to as “$5 insanity,” “powdered psychosis” and “total mind melt.” It has surfaced in Ohio, Chicago and Houston, according to a Washington Post story on the epidemic; but is most prevalent in Florida.
Until recently, the drug was easily obtained online from Chinese retailers. In Broward County, a major hospital system said it seen up to 20 flakka-related emergencies in one day last year. At least 16 deaths have been attributed to the cheap drug since September.
But slight changes in purity or dose resulted in bizarre or deadly reactions. In April 2015, a man high on flakka tried to have sex with a tree, according to the Miami Herald. An officer used a Taser to try to subdue the man, but the suspect pulled the electric probes from his body and tried to stab the officer with his own badge.
And last summer, an 83-year-old grandmother was badly beaten by a 26-year-old man who had ingested flakka before knocking on her door and attacking her, according to the Palm Beach Post. She died three months later.
As The Post’s Peter Holley wrote:
Flakka, according to the county’s human services department, “is a potent, highly addictive stimulant drug. In a small amount the drug provides euphoria, stimulation, and hallucinations. However, just a little bit more can trigger heart problems, agitation, aggressiveness, psychosis, paranoia and excited delirium.”But after the drug strained emergency services and hospitals for nearly two years, authorities had seen a significant decline in flakka use in recent months.
The drug — a more potent form of what was previously known as bath salts — gets its name from “la flaca,” Spanish slang for a beautiful woman, according to CNN. It is known elsewhere in the country as “gravel” and, according to Reuters, has surfaced in Ohio, Chicago and Houston.
“People, they start going crazy, just like PCP and LSD did in the old days,” Kevin Stanfill a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Miami field office, told Jacksonville station WJXT. “They get superhuman strength, they get paranoid. We get instances here in Florida where a man bit his baby; we get instances here in southern Florida where a man put this baby under water.”
According to a Post story in April: “What happened in Florida, experts say, was the result of unprecedented coordination among local groups to fight flakka’s demand and — most importantly — the unusual willingness of the Chinese government to halt flakka’s production.”
Monday’s attack, however, may be a sign that the drug isn’t totally gone from the region, Snyder said. His investigators are trying to piece together how Harrouff may have gotten the drug and what he was doing Monday in the minutes before he encountered the middle-aged couple relaxing in their garage.
Nothing in Harrouff’s past pointed at any violent tendencies, Snyder told The Post. Before he was accused of a double homicide Monday night, he had no criminal record.
Harrouff was in town visiting his family and hanging with fraternity brothers a few weeks before school was scheduled to resume.
His family met up at a nearby restaurant for dinner, but Harrouff grew agitated when the food took too long to come to the table. He walked out of the restaurant and his worried family called the Jupiter police, asking officers to help locate him.