Michelle Mishcon Stevens and John Joseph Stevens III are the married couple murdered in a horrific face-eating attack by a Florida college fraternity student, police say.
Married 19 years, they were lovers of deep-sea fishing near their affluent Florida community. The crime was particularly horrific because the suspect, Florida State University student Austin Harrouff, is accused of trying to bite off the face of John Stevens, 59.
“The suspect was biting and removing pieces of the victim’s face with his teeth,” said WPTV.
Police said Harrouff, 19, “had no known connections to the victims” and “the attack was random and unprovoked,” said CBS 12.
The couple was attacked, stabbed and bitten in the garage and driveway of their home near Jupiter, Florida.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Michelle Is The Daughter of a Former North Miami Beach Mayor & The Couple Was Married 19 Years
According to Local 10 News, former North Miami Beach Mayor Jeff Mishcon says Michelle Stevens was his daughter.
On Father’s Day, Michelle wrote on Facebook: “Happy Fathers Day Jeff Mishcon!! I love you tons and tons.”
The TV station said that Michelle, 53, was a 1981 graduate of North Miami Beach Senior High School, and her husband graduated from Miami Killian Senior High School.
Local 10 News said former Mayor Mishcon “was barely able to speak after the death of his eldest daughter.” A local athletic field is named after his wife, who died in 1997 of a heart attack, the TV station said.
In July, Michelle wrote of John on Facebook, “Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary John Stevens. I love you to the deep blue and beyond. Here’s to another 19 years of laughter, life and love.” A video Michelle posted on Facebook includes John in it:
John Stevens and Michelle were lovers of deep sea fishing and many photos they posted on social media show them on their boat or holding large fish.
2. The Suspect Might Have Been on Synthetic Drugs When He Attacked The Victims, Police Say
Deputies encountered Harrouff “biting off the face of Stevens” in the driveway of the couple’s home around 9:20 p.m., said CBS 12.
The television station said that authorities tried everything from a stun gun to a K-9 and manpower to get Harrouff “off the victim” but called it a “struggle.” It took three deputies to subdue Harrouff, said The New York Daily News.
CBS 12 said authorities are testing Harrouff for bath salts and Flakka but added that he “has tested negative in the first few tests.” The Miami Herald said Harrouff was a Florida State University sophomore studying pre-exercise science and said he “was eating dinner at Duffy’s, a sports pub down the block, with his parents when he got mad from possibly about slow service and stormed out.” Some experts have also raised steroid rage as a possibility.
WPTV said his parents called police because they were so worried and his fraternity brothers went looking for him.
It’s not known how he allegedly ended up in the Stevens’ garage – where they liked to sit at night – about 45 minutes later. The Associated Press says that Michelle was beaten to death and also stabbed and that John died of multiple stab wounds and blunt force trauma.
Harrouff had gone to his hometown with fraternity brothers from Alpha Delta Phi, said The Miami Herald. The Herald said toxicology tests for more unique synthetic drugs are still pending and Harrouff is hospitalized.
3. Harrouff Made ‘Animal-Like Noises’ & Gave Police a False Name, Reports Say
Harrouff was grunting and growling at the scene and making “animal-like noises,” police said, according to The New York Daily News.
The Miami Herald said deputies found the 19-year-old suspect “crouched over the bleeding body of the man, biting chunks of his face off.”
The couple’s home is in Tequesta, an affluent neighborhood in Florida.
WPTV quoted a police official as saying, “Once he got to the hospital, he was making animal-like sounds and was somewhat incoherent,” adding that Harrouff lived with his mother nearby. Harrouff took off some of this clothes during the attack, The Palm Beach Post said.
The AP quoted Harrouff’s mother as telling police “he had been acting strangely for days and claiming superpowers” but she said he was not a heavy drug user and did not have a mental health history.” Harrouff was in stable condition but not able to speak because of a breathing tube, The AP said.
Harrouff at no criminal record and was a good student at Florida State University, friends said. He is a former high school athlete.
4. Michelle Worked in Finance & Was Described as a ‘Great Role Model’ & Friends Said Both Spouses ‘Loved Life’
On Facebook, Michelle says she worked at Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, lived in Jupiter, Florida, was married, and was from North Miami Beach. “Michelle, you were loved and respected by so many,” wrote a friend on Facebook.
One Friend wrote on Facebook, “God has gotten another angel today. Thank you Michelle Mishcon Stevens for always believing in me and being a great role model. Thank you for all you did for myself and everyone is an understatement… May you rest peacefully. I dedicate the future of my career to fulfilling my promises to you. God bless her loved ones and family in this horrible time.”
Another friend wrote, “I am SO Sad to learn & report of this beautiful couple’s murder. Michelle Mishcon Stevens & J. Stevens loved life like no other couple I know! Every share was with a BIG Smile, from their boat, having been out on the water. I am SO sorry that a crazy person had to unleash his anger on them! G-D help their neighbor who tried to intervene & was injured by the assailant.”
Michelle posted a video story on her life on Facebook:
A co-worker wrote of Michelle, “Will always remember this incredible person, always smiling and happy. This day was one I will remember especially, capturing this shot after we finished the miami building run as team striano! One of my amazing coworkers, We love you Michelle! RIP never forget xoxo.”
John Stevens “was a retired owner of landscaping business Greensmart Lawn and Garden, which state record show was established in 2013 and was operated out of his home,” said The Tallahassee Democrat.
5. John Wrote About His Son Serving in Iraq & A Neighbor Tried to Help The Couple But Was Stabbed
John Stevens posted on Facebook about fatherhood. He wrote in 2011, “This is my son John IV, a marine who will be exiting the Marines in March after having served in Iraq. Very proud of him!” Many of his photos revolved around deep-sea fishing. Stevens’ daughter, Ivy, had moved out of the house days before, said police, according to The Palm Beach Post.
John Stevens IV, Stevens’ son, told the Sun Sentinel, “It is not super important to me what his mindset was. I just want to see the prosecutor ask for the death penalty. I want him to go through that process and to pay for what he did.”
A neighbor tried in vain to help the couple. His father identified the neighbor as Jeff Fisher, 47, said WPTV. The TV station said Fisher called 911.
The New York Daily News says the neighbor who intervened was expected to recover but suffered substantial injuries.
The Miami Herald said multiple “weapons of opportunity” were used to “beat, slash and attack the couple, including a switchblade the suspect was known to carry. Officials said it looked like the husband tried to fight back.”
WPTV quoted a police official as saying, “Both victims sustained massive trauma on multiple portions of their body. There were lacerations, stab wounds and blunt trauma,”