The Disturbing 2020 Murder Of Hollywood Therapist Amie Harwick

There's nothing unusual about working as a therapist in Hollywood, but in the late 2010s Amie Harwick found herself to be a more prominent therapist than most. Having performed frequently as a dancer and burlesque artist specializing in fire-swallowing, Harwick became a well-known face at shows and parties in the fashion and entertainment industries. Her profile grew in 2018 when her relationship with the comedian Drew Carey became public knowledge. Though the pair separated shortly after, they remained close friends. Harwick also worked as an actress and producer in her own right, but therapy, particularly that focusing on relationships and sex, was her great passion, and she reportedly had many stars from the entertainment industry on her books. A guide to sex for women, which she published in 2014, suggested a successful career as an author was also ahead of her.

But in the early morning hours of February 15, 2020, Harwick was found critically injured on the ground under the balcony of her third-floor Hollywood apartment. She was rushed to the hospital, where she later died. An autopsy confirmed that she had been brutally attacked, strangled, and likely thrown from the balcony intentionally. The attack rocked Hollywood, with many famous figures who had benefitted from Harwick's expertise sharing their shock and disbelief that she had died in such a heinous manner. Tragically, though, it later came to light that the warning signs were all there and that the therapist had made steps to keep her attacker from her front door.

An obsessive killer

As Amie Harwick's close friends later told CBS News, there was one name that came to mind when speculating on who the therapist's murderer could be. That name was Gareth Pursehouse, an ex-boyfriend of Harwick whom she first met in 2008 at a photoshoot while she was working as a model. The relationship appeared normal to Harwick's friends, with Pursehouse appearing like a loving partner who showered Harwick with attention. But behind closed doors, Harwick faced abuse from her new partner, including physical attacks.

With the support of her close friends, Harwick eventually left Pursehouse, who grew more obsessive and continued to try and invade Harwick's life. Four years after the break-up Harwick was burgled, and she suspected Pursehouse was behind the break-in. She also believed that he was responsible for numerous abusive messages that were posted about her online after her engagement to the comedian Drew Carey became public knowledge. Pursehouse's unpredictable behavior was so disturbing that Harwick filed two restraining orders against him. However, Harwick had bumped into Pursehouse about a month before her murder, and he remained a dangerous person in her life.

The trial of Gareth Pursehouse

Gareth Pursehouse was subsequently arrested and charged with the murder of Amie Harwick. At his trial, the prosecution painted a picture of how the attacker had broken into Harwick's apartment and lain in wait for her return after a Valentine's Day night out with friends. When she arrived home in the early hours of the morning, they argued that Pursehouse jumped out and surprised Harwick, whom he punched and choked before dropping her from the balcony to her death. The murder, they said, was premeditated.

In response, Pursehouse's defense team admitted that he had broken into Harwick's home, but claimed that he only intended to talk to her after his chance encounter with Harwick a month earlier had reignited his obsession with her. They claimed that his state of mind meant that he would have been unable to lie in wait, that the violence was unplanned, and suggested that the fall from the balcony was an accident. But the jury was not convinced. On December 7, 2023, it was reported that Pursehouse, now 45, had been sentenced to life without parole for the first-degree murder of Amie Harwick.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.