"If I ever disappear or if anything ever happens to me, you know it's him."
It was the 14th of February 2020. A Friday. Valentine's Day. Thirty eight year old Amie Harwick had been out with friends that night. She went to a Burlesque show in Los Angeles, United States. Amie was adopted by Penny and Tom Harwick in Pennsylvania but she moved to Los Angeles when she got married at a young age. Even though the marriage didn't last, Amie stayed in Los Angeles.
Amie Harwick with her parents, Tom and Penny
Amie loved her nights out and meeting up with friends and attending various events. She was a social butterfly. But she was also fiercely independent and hard working.
Amie paid her own way through her Masters degree and a Doctorate by holding a number of different jobs. She worked as a model, did bartending, was a go go dancer and even took part in fire-eating. She was passionate about everything she tried and lived her life to the fullest.
As part of her modeling job, Amie did a Playboy shoot. She lost her job working with juvenile offenders when somebody sent nude photos of her to her employer. Amie was disgusted that she would lose her job over nude photos. So that made her focus on setting up her own practice in West Hollywood. She had initially been working towards becoming a family therapist but instead focused on the area of relationships and sex instead.
In particular, Amie wanted to help sex workers with their mental health. She had a successful career in that field and as a sex therapist and even wrote a book called The New Sex Bible for Women. Amie appeared on various TV shows and was invited to different events. She had a number of celebrity clients so was known in various different social circles in Los Angeles.
That night, the 14th of February, Amie returned to her home in the Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles. She lived there with her roommate. When she got back home, one of her friends , Robert Coshland, sent her a text message at 11pm. He sent her a link to a restaurant. Amie was planning a trip to the UK and Robert send her details of a restaurant in Edinburgh, Scotland that had been recommended to him. Amie responded to that text message at 1.01am. She told Robert that it looked cool.
Just fifteen minutes after Amie sent that text message, the LAPD responded to a call in relation to reports of a woman screaming in the Hollywood Hills. The call was made from Amie's roommate. When they got there, Amie's roommate jumped over the fence of the home to meet the police. The roommate told them that Amie was assaulted inside the house so he left to go to the neighbor's house to call the police. They found Amie lying on the ground outside the house underneath her third floor balcony. She was rushed straight to hospital.
Later that day, Amie died in hospital.
Amie's death was ruled a homicide. The Autopsy revealed that Amie had sustained severe injuries of her brain, liver and pelvis in an apparent fall from a height. There were injuries to her neck , particular strap muscle hemorrhage and that was consistent with manual strangulation. There were injuries to her hands and fingers that were consistent with a combination of defense and assault type wounds suggestive of an altercation. Investigators believed Amie was beaten and strangled and then thrown from her third floor balcony.
She died as a result of the blunt force injuries to her head and torso.
The LAPD investigation revealed that there was "possible evidence of a struggle in the upstairs as well as forced entry to the residence." Amie's roommate told police that he woke when he heard a woman scream and when he realized it was Amie, it sounded like she was being assaulted and that's why he ran to get help.
Surveillance footage from the neighborhood captured a man in the area, a white man, dressed all in black.
Police looked into Amie's life and quickly discovered that Amie had taken out two restraining orders, one in 2011 and one in 2012, against one man. Gareth Pursehouse.
Amie had dated Gareth in 2010. They met at a go go dancing event. He was a handsome, charming and personable 6'4" IT Specialist. He wanted to be a famous comedian so he did small gigs here and there and also worked as a photographer. They seemed like a great match at first. They were described as a fun couple, the type of couple people wanted to be around and spend time with. But that didn't last long. Just one year and a half later, Amie filed the first restraining order.
In the Court papers, she wrote:
"In April 2011, Gareth Pursehouse forced me to the ground, covered my mouth to prevent my yelling, kicked me. In mid-May, there were multiple arguments in which Gareth Pursehouse choked me, suffocated me, pushed me against walls, kicked me, dropped me to the ground with forced force, restrained me, slammed my head into the ground, and punched me with a closed fist."
She filed for a second one a year later.
Amie told the Court and also some of her friends that Gareth had become violent and had physically assaulted her a number of times. She said that on one occasion,he pushed her out of a car onto the side of a freeway.
She was choked a number of times and alleged that Gareth tried to suffocate her. After she ended the relationship, Amie alleged that he broke into her apartment a number of times and smashed her picture frames. She believed he taped dozens of flowers to her door and she received text messages such as :
"Things will get worse."
In 2012, he was ordered to stay away from Amie.
After that, Gareth was even more obsessed with Amie. He wanted to know where Amie was , who she was with and he was desperate to have her back in his life. Amie believed that he somehow accessed her computer and that he was the one who sent nude photos of her to her employer. But despite that, Amie decided to take control of her own life and she moved on.
Amie dated other men and things went back to some sort of normality for her. She got engaged to Drew Carey host of CBS' "The Price Is Right" but their relationship ended in 2018.
On the 17th of January 2020, Amie went to an event. She was asked to appear on the panel about mental health and counseling at Xbiz, an adult industry business conference and awards show. Amie was about to step on to the red carpet to have her photograph taken, when she recognized one of the photographers. It was Gareth. And even though it had been almost ten years since she last saw him, he was irate. He shouted at her and told her she was a hypocrite and she had broken his heart.
Amie took him aside and away from the red carpet and spoke to him. But he was in distress and seemed upset. When Amie was at her table later on that night, he approached her. He was shouting at her in front of everyone and she tried to talk to him. Even though he was at the event for work, he seemed to only care about Amie. He began sobbing and fell to the ground in a fetal position. He told Amie that she had ruined his life and he referred to text messages she had sent him in 2012.
The incident had deeply disturbed and frightened Amie. It was a traumatic experience for her. She told a friend after the event that she got mace and pepper spray and had additional locks added at her home. She was afraid that Gareth would try to break into her home again.
Less than one month after that event, Amie was dead. Police arrested Gareth. Authorities believed he had been lying in wait for her. He was charged with one count of murder and first degree residential burglary with the special circumstance allegation of lying in wait. That special circumstance makes Gareth eligible for the death penalty.
Gareth pleaded not guilty. He is currently awaiting Trial.
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- Eileen McNamara, the Boston Globe
"The effects of abuse are devastating and far reaching. Domestic violence speaks many languages, has many colors and lives in many different communities."
- Sandra Pupatello