The death of Hollywood therapist Amie Harwick has sparked conversations about domestic violence and stalking. Although Amie's accused murderer is behind bars, the case is raising questions about the effectiveness of laws intended to protect victims of stalking from violence. Most often, those victims are women.
Amie was texting with her best friend Robert Coshland just before she died in the early hours of February 16, 2020. He sent his last text around 11 p.m. – and she responded at 1:01 a.m. They had been discussing plans for an upcoming trip. Minutes later, at 1:16 a.m., police responded to a radio call of a "woman screaming." They found Amie near death, under a balcony at her home.
Amie's injuries were consistent with a fall and the coroner says there was evidence of strangulation. Amie's ex-boyfriend, Gareth Pursehouse, was arrested and charged with her murder. Authorities say he had been lying in wait for her. Amie had ended her relationship with Pursehouse years earlier, but in January, at a professional event, Amie had a chance encounter with Pursehouse that frightened her. "'If I ever disappear or if anything ever happens to me … you know it's him,'" says Coshland.
Amie told Coshland that Pursehouse had made a scene at the event, yelling in her face that she ruined his life. In the past, Amie had filed for restraining orders against him twice – detailing physical abuse. The last one expired in 2015. "She was afraid 'cause he had acted so crazy," says Coshland. "She had always been afraid that he would – might do something violent."
Amie's friend and fellow therapist Hernando Chaves was there when she ran into Pursehouse. While Pursehouse was agitated, Chaves says, Amie was trying to sooth and calm him. She was in therapist mode. But Chaves says Amie was afraid of the "what ifs."
Amie's many friends say she was devoted to helping people. But there was also another side of her. "She was very creative and artsy," says friend Ashlee Williss. She was a dancer, a photographer, even at one time a fire eater.
Now, Amie Harwick is a terrible loss. Among the people grieving for her is her former fiancé, Drew Carey. He's supporting an online petition calling for tighter stalking laws – a petition that has already collected more than 60,000 signatures. They are hoping for a million.
Did the system do enough to protect Amie from alleged killer Gareth Pursehouse? Correspondent Erin Moriarty has the latest in the case in "The Life and Death of Amie Harwick," airing Saturday, February 22 at 10/9c on CBS.