“Five Dollar Insanity”: Inside The Flakka Epidemic

Everything you’re better off not knowing about the “zombie” drug of south Florida.

Flakka Crystals

Drug Enforcement AdministrationFlakka crystals.

IT STARTED IN JUPITER. On the evening of August 15, 19-year-old college sophomore Austin Harrouff was dining with his family at a restaurant in the small, coastal city of Jupiter, south Florida.

The trouble began when Harrouff abruptly walked out of the restaurant. His parents soon found him at his mother’s house, attempting to drink cooking oil. They then dragged him back to the restaurant, but it wasn’t long before he walked out again. The consequences would be far worse this time.

After leaving the restaurant at approximately 9 p.m., Harrouff walked three-and-a-half miles north toward his father’s house in the neighboring town of Tequesta. At about 10 p.m., just before reaching the house, however, Harrouff happened upon the home of middle-aged couple John Stevens and Michelle Mishcon, both sitting out in their garage.

Austin Harrouff

Martin County Sheriff’s OfficeAustin Harrouff.

When the 911 call came in from the Stevens’ neighbor, Jeff Fisher — who had just gone over to check out the commotion in the darkness and thought he may have been stabbed in the process — all he could really tell the operator at the time was, “There is a girl laying on the ground. He beat her up. I ran over there. I’m bleeding profusely here at the moment.”

By the time the police reached the scene, at about 11 p.m., they found Stevens and Mishcon stabbed to death and Harrouff aggressively gnawing at the former’s face.

After several minutes of struggle involving multiple officers and their K-9s and tasers, authorities removed Harrouff, grunting and making “animal-like noises,” from Stevens’ now dead body.

Martin County Sheriff William Snyder quickly called the attack “random.”

On the night of the attack, Harrouff himself suggested the underlying factor most quickly assumed to be the root of this “random” attack. “Test me,” Harrouff told officers at the scene. “You won’t find any drugs.”

Authorities took samples of Harrouff’s hair, DNA, and blood, and sent them to the F.B.I. for drug testing. And although those results still have yet to come back (or at least haven’t been made public), both the authorities and media outlet after media outlet immediately suspected that the culprit was indeed a drug and that that drug was flakka.

John Kuroski
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the assistant editor of All That Is Interesting.
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