A 19-year-old Florida State University student charged with fatally stabbing a couple outside their home and then biting the dead man's face remained under surveillance early Wednesday with guards nearby at a West Palm Beach hospital.
A spokeswoman for the Martin County Sheriff's Office said Austin Harrouff is now stable and coherent at St. Mary's Medical Center, where he reportedly will be having surgery on his hand. Earlier, West Palm Beach television station WPTV had reported Wednesday that Harrouff is sedated and on a ventilator with guards stationed nearby.
In a bizarre YouTube video recently posted of Harrouff, he discusses bodybuilding and steroids.
"I don't need drugs. I know that they can change me but the thing is, that's not being healthy, you know? Being healthy is, it's natural, you know, What comes natural to you?" he says. "You think steroids are natural? Who knows, you know. Who knows. You think steroids will be beneficial? Who knows, but for me, I know that, I don't know but I think that steroids really aren't for me. Honestly. I used to think that I needed steroids to be a bodybuilder, to be this thing, to be this symbol, to be this lie."
Harrouff's mother, Mina, told police her son had been acting strangely for days and claimed to have superpowers, according to a report released Wednesday.
Mina Harrouff called Jupiter police about three hours after Austin Harrouff stormed out of a restaurant Monday night following an argument with his father, the report said.
"My son, he's um, kinda taken off and I'm concerned about his own safety," she told the 911 operator in the call.
She told an officer her son had been acting strangely for about a week, said he had superpowers and that he was "here to protect people," the report said.
"He was with his sister and he says, you know, he feels immortal and um, like a superhero, so I don't know what's going on with him," the mother said in the call.
She told Officer Luis Rocha her son had no history of mental illness nor heavy drug use.
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"Mina told me that she does not believe him to be a danger to anyone or to himself,'' Rocha wrote in the report.
Sheriff William Synder said Harrouff was incoherent and making "animal-like noises'' when he was taken to St. Mary's Medical Center after the Monday night attack in a quiet neighborhood north of Jupiter. On Tuesday, Snyder told reporters that Harrouff's condition was "life-threatening.''
Snyder said Harrouff stormed out of a restaurant where he was having dinner with his family on Monday night, apparently agitated over slow service.
A short time later, Michelle Mishcon, 53, and John Stevens III, 59, were attacked outside their home. Neighbors said they had a habit of sitting in their garage, where they often kept the door open while they watched television.
Neighbor Jeff Fisher, 47, tried to help but was stabbed during the attack. He was breathing heavily on the 911 call, which was released Tuesday. He told the operator that the assailant had attacked a woman and then him when he tried to intervene. Fisher was bleeding profusely and taken to a hospital. His father, Steve Fisher, told WPTV that his son was stabbed once in the neck, three times in the back and once in the side.
Fisher was in fair condition Wednesday and is expected to survive. His family released a statement Wednesday.
"Jeff is doing as well as can be expected but he has a long healing process to go through. We are very proud of Jeff and the courage he has shown while attempting to help his friends and neighbors," the statement read. "We have no other comments and ask you to give us time to come together as a family and begin to heal."
When a deputy arrived at the couples' home, she used her Taser on Harrouff, but it didn't faze him, Snyder said. She tried pulling him off Stevens' body, but couldn't. Other deputies arrived shortly along with a dog and it took all of them to subdue Harrouff. Snyder said they didn't shoot, fearing their bullets would strike the victim.
"The suspect in this case was abnormally strong,'' Snyder said, making him think Harrouff was on drugs. He said hospital blood tests showed no signs of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin or other common drugs; it will take longer to test for less common hallucinogenic drugs such as flakka or bath salts.
"The big question we want to know, the community wants to know, is the why. We know the who, the what, the when, the where and the how," Snyder said. "No one is suggesting that what happened at the restaurant was a psychotic episode. What happened during that walk that led to a level of violence that was unprecedented in normal police work?"
Dr. Wade Harrouff, a dentist, declined to comment about his son's arrest.
Attorney Michelle Suskauer told WPTV she'll be representing Austin Harrouff if he survives. She told the television station that his parents have not been able to see him, but she's continuing to request permission for them to be by his side.
She said he is in serious condition in the hospital's intensive care unit.
"Obviously we don't know what predicated these acts. But certainly, there are mental health issues that are going to have to be investigated here. We don't know if anything is going to show up on toxicology or not,'' Suskauer said.
Harrouff hasn't been formally charged with any crimes but detectives are working with the State Attorney's Office to determine charges, officials said.
Funeral services for the victims will be Friday in Fort Lauderdale.