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Suspect in couple's brutal murder likely on synthetic drugs, sheriff says

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As new details emerge in how Austin Harrouff committed the heinous murders…the question remains: Why did he do it?

Was his mindset altered by a synthetic drug?

The details of the murder of John and Michelle Stevens, allegedly beaten and stabbed to death by Austin Harrouff, are unspeakable.

It’s easy to wonder what could possess the 19-year-old FSU student to commit such an atrocity and then fight off multiple deputies and a K-9 dog.

Sheriff William Snyder says Harrouff's behavior was like those on a synthetic drug similar to bath salts or flakka.

“It’s outside the norm and it makes us think that perhaps there was some type of drug he was on that is yet to be determined,” said Sheriff William Snyder.

According to Sheriff Snyder, deputies saw a spike in use of synthetic drugs a year ago from China.

However, when the country clamped down on the ingredients needed, investigators saw use of the drug go down.

"We’re not seeing a pattern in Martin County. We haven’t had an unusually large amount of seizures of designer drugs," Sheriff Snyder said, "So our hope if there was a drug in his system, he brought it from where he went to school. We’re just not seeing it on the street."

Sheriff Snyder said a full toxicology report will take between 1 and 3 weeks.

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