Photo of Amie Harwick (Image Source: The Daily Mail)
At the age of 38, Amie Nicole Harwick was a beautiful and well-known marriage and family therapist. Her career and personal life were on the rise.
She lived in the exclusive and wealthy celebrity hotspot of Hollywood Hills. She had previously dated comedian Drew Carey for 2 years and she had appeared on TV and was the author of a book called The New Sex Bible for Women.
Everything changed on Febuary 15, 2020 when Harwick’s body was found crumpled underneath the balcony of her Hollywood Hills home. She was unresponsive and rushed to the hospital but later died. The cause of death was strangulation and falling from her balcony and it was classified as a homicide.
The perpetrator was a 41 year old man called Gareth Pursehouse. He was her ex-boyfriend.
This is the story of murder and one man’s obsession with controlling and abusing her.
An Abusive Relationship
Harwick grew up in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. She was adopted by her parents, Penny and Tom Harwick.
She was very smart, independent and driven to succeed. She graduated with a masters degree from Pepperdine University and a doctorate from the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. She was also strikingly beautiful and was drawn to anything that was goth.
Harwick moved to Los Angeles to further her career. She became especially adept at networking with A-list celebrities and found herself moving within their circles. She even became a Playboy model at one point.
She was very out-going and attended parties, burlesque clubs, art exhibitions and go-go bars. It was at one of these go-go bars in the early 2010s that she met Pursehouse, the man who would eventually murder her.
Not many details are given in the media reports about the relationship between Harwick and Pursehouse. Pursehouse worked as a software engineer, photographer, and comedian. He was 6'4' and handsome but not impressive. He was described as a “L.A. Ken doll” by some of Harwick’s friends.
Pursehouse came across as pleasant and overly solicitious to Harwick which made Harwick’s friends very uncomfortable. Initially Harwick was complacent about the relationship. It was not until more than a year later in June 2011 that she filed the first restraining order against Pursehouse.
Harwick alleged that Pursehouse subjected her to physical abuse. He would choke her, punch her, suffocate her, slam her against walls, kick her, and drop her to the ground with force.
Although Harwick ended up filing a restraining order, she decided not to follow up on it. Perhaps she felt bad for Pursehouse and wanted to give him another chance. This was a bad idea because the physical abuse continued and Harwick filed a second restraining order in 2012.
She stated that Pursehouse pulled her out of a car, gave her a bloody nose and left her on the road. She also alleged that he would often break into her apartment, smash her picture frames and text her threatening messages. The second restraining order was granted but Harwick made a major mistake. She did not renew the restraining order when it ran out of effect in 2015.
Years after she had broken up with Pursehouse, Warwick was still receiving threatening emails and text messages. However, she wasn’t able to place the blame on Pursehouse as these were often sent anonymously and Harwick had fallen out with other people too.
On January 17th, 2020, Harwick was set to walk the red carpet and attend an awards conference and show. Pursehouse was working as a photographer on the show. As soon as he saw her, he became agitated and made threatening comments and gestures to her even though it had been a decade since they had broken up.
Upon meeting Pursehouse, Harwick became afraid and started talking to her friends about carrying mace or pepper spray and changing the locks on her doors.
She also made a chilling statement to a friend:
If I ever disappear or if anything ever happens to me… you know it’s him.
Photo of Gareth Pursehouse (Image Source: The Daily Mail)
According to police evidence, the sequence of events that led to Harwick’s murder are not very clear. It is believed that there was forced entry into Harwick’s home and a struggle upstairs.
Right before Harwick was strangled and thrown from her third floor balcony, she was texting her friend. She was responding to a text at 1:01 a.m. on February 15, 2020. Just 15 minutes later, police responded to a call of a woman screaming. They arrived at Harwick’s place but it was too late.
Harwick’s injuries were consistent with strangulation and a fall. Pursehouse was arrested and charged with murder. There was evidence from surveillance footage that Pursehouse was present at the scene of the murder.
Pursehouse was charged with one count of murder and one count of burglary. On April 16, 2020, Pursehouse plead not guilty. Currently he is in jail awaiting trial. There is the possibility that he could face the death penalty for the murder of Harwick.
Harwick’s untimely death left a void in many people’s lives. As a family and marriage therapist, Harwick had touched many lives. Comedian Drew Carey said this of her:
A positive force in the world and an unapologetic champion of women.
What is ironic about Harwick’s case is that as a therapist, Harwick was trained to deal with patients who were experiencing similar struggles of stalking and domestic abuse in their relationships. Yet Harwick herself was going through the same experiences and it only seemed to enable her to relate to her patients even better. Her patients described her as professional, warm, and empathetic.
In the wake of Harwick’s death, there are demands for stronger domestic violence and stalking laws. There is the controversy that the restraining order that Harwick had in place against Pursehouse was allowed to expire. According to California Law, the restraining order was only good for a couple of years.
Harwick could have attempted to renew the restraining order but she probably did not want to have to face Pursehouse in court again. With no legal blocks in place, Pursehouse was emboldened to threaten and finally murder Harwick.