Tuesday marks one year since the murders of John Stevens III and Michelle Mishcon, whom sheriff’s detectives say were attacked at random by 19-year-old Austin Harrouff, in the garage of their Martin County home.
Their neighbor and friend Jeff Fisher, who tried to stop the attacks, was also seriously injured.
“They were people who saw the good in everything,” said John Stevens' son, John Stevens IV who lives outside Kansas City. “I mean they would have never thought that this could happen to them.”
Martin County Sheriff’s deputies say they arrived on the scene that night to find the 19-year-old Florida State student chewing the flesh of one of the victims.
Immediately following the attack, Harrouff was hospitalized for several weeks and then officially charged with the murders. Investigators believe he drank a caustic fluid inside the couple’s garage the night of the attacks that caused internal injuries.
Now, one year later and the victims’ families wait for justice. “It’s like we’re climbing a mountain to get justice for them when it should be very simple,” said Stevens.
Martin County Sheriff William Snyder speculated soon after the attack that Harrouff may have been on mind-altering drugs at the time of the murders. But toxicology results later showed that not to be the case.
His attorneys have maintained that Harrouff suffers from mental illness. It's something Harrouff is heard discussing in a Skype interview with TV personality Dr. Phil. The episode never aired. However, the interview was released after it became part of the discovery evidence.
“Austin Harrouff was on the beach earlier that day, drinking with his frat brothers. It’s clear that he abused steroids his entire adolescent life,” said Stevens who said he doesn’t believe the mental illness defense.
According to the Martin County Sheriff’s Office, Harrouff had been having dinner at a Duffy’s nearby when he stormed out, frustrated about slow service.
His parents called 911 concerned about his behavior. However, less than an hour later investigators say he attacked Stevens and Mishcon in their garage.
“His father bought him the butterfly knife that he killed my parents with, two months prior to him doing this. People don’t do that for mentally ill crazy people, right?”
While honoring the memories of his parents comes first, John Stevens IV said his other priority is to pursue justice against a person he believes is getting privileged treatment.
“I just feel that there needs to be somebody who just focuses on advocating for justice for them and that we remember what happened. That this person who did it isn’t this white kid that looks like he could be our son or our brother. He’s a monster and if there’s a God he’ll burn in hell.”
There is still no trial date set for Harrouff. The next court date is scheduled for September.