Dr. Amie Harwick Was Strangled Before She Fell to Her Death, Coroner Says

Family and sex therapist Dr. Amie Harwick was murdered over the weekend at her Hollywood home, and her ex-boyfriend Gareth Pursehouse has been arrested in connection with her death. The Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner said in a report Tuesday that Harwick died from blunt force injuries of the head and torso, adding that there was "evidence of manual strangulation," the Los Angeles Times reports.

The report considers Harwick's death a homicide and indicates that manual strangulation was a secondary cause of death while blunt force injuries were the primary cause.

At 1:16 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15, police responded to a call of a "woman screaming" in the Hollywood Hills neighborhood of Mound Street, CBS Los Angeles reports. Police say that a roommate told officers the victim was being assaulted in the home. Harwick was found unresponsive outside beneath a third-story balcony with injuries consistent with a fall before being pronounced dead at a local hospital. Investigators searching the home found "possible evidence of a struggle in the upstairs as well as forced entry to the residence."

Pursehouse was arrested and booked on suspicion of murder and is currently being held in lieu of a $2 million bond. If convicted, he faces a possible death sentence. A criminal complaint filed by prosecutors suggests that detectives suspect Pursehouse of breaking into Harwick's house and spending over an hour there before killing her.

In a news release, Harwick, who was previously engaged to Drew Carey, "had recently expressed fear about a former boyfriend and had previously filed a restraining order." The therapist had been awarded two restraining orders against Pursehouse in 2011. The Los Angeles Times reports that the first order was dismissed after Harwick failed to show up for a follow-up hearing, but she was later granted a new order that was extended in 2012 and expired two weeks ago. Harwick saw Pursehouse two weeks before her death when she ran into him at a professional event.

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"She said that when he saw her, he just went ballistic. He lost it. He made a scene," friend Vera Duffy said, adding that she recalled Harwick saying that Pursehouse blamed her for ruining his life. "She was very scared. ... She said, 'What am I going to do? I let my roommate know, I have home security,'" Duffy said.

Photo Credit: Getty / Paul Archuleta