After Amie Harwick broke up with her ex-boyfriend, who she alleged in court documents abused her, the man showed up at her apartment three times in as many days.
The first time he showed up in March 2012, he smashed 10 picture frames against her front door. Then she received a text message with a warning: “Things will get worse.”
A day later, he left roughly four dozen flowers taped to her door. He showed up again the next day and stood outside her apartment playing music.
The bizarre series of events — detailed in a request for a restraining order filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court that year — culminated on the fourth day when, Harwick said, her ex-boyfriend Gareth Pursehouse sent threatening emails to her friends.
Harwick, a well-known marriage and family therapist, ran into Pursehouse last month at a professional event that she was attending and he was assigned to photograph. Beverly Hills sex therapist Hernando Chaves, a close friend who was with Harwick at the event, said the chance encounter seemed to “reignite his obsessive preoccupation with her.”
Authorities say Pursehouse, 41, of Playa del Rey, attacked the 38-year-old Harwick early Saturday morning at her Hollywood Hills home.
LAPD officers were sent to the house in the 2000 block of Mound Street in response to a report of a woman screaming. When officers arrived, they were met by Harwick’s roommate, who told them Harwick was being assaulted inside the home.
Officers found Harwick on the ground, beneath a third-story balcony, with grave injuries consistent with a fall, police said. She was taken to a hospital, where she later died.
Los Angeles County coroner officials determined that Harwick died of blunt force injuries to her head and torso.
Investigators found possible evidence of a struggle in the home, according to a statement. Pursehouse was arrested on suspicion of murder and was being held on $2-million bail, according to county jail records.
Harwick and Pursehouse had lived together for a couple of years nearly a decade ago, friends said, but their relationship deteriorated. Harwick detailed several instances of alleged abuse and stalking in court documents requesting restraining orders against her ex-boyfriend.
In one instance, on June 18, 2011, she wrote that Pursehouse picked her up late at night and they got into a fight while he was driving. The fight escalated to the point that Pursehouse pushed her out of the car onto the side of the freeway, she wrote in court documents.
Harwick alleged that, two months earlier, he had forced her to the ground, covered her mouth to keep her from yelling and kicked her.
“He has suffocated me, punched me, slammed my head on the ground, kicked me,” she wrote in court documents detailing the alleged abuse. “This has resulted in bruises, inability to walk, bleeding, broken blood vessels around face, whiplash, sore neck and back.”
Harwick obtained a temporary restraining order against Pursehouse in 2011, but she apparently did not attend a follow-up hearing and the order was dismissed, court records show.
Less than a year later, Harwick was granted another temporary restraining order, and after an April 2012 hearing, a judge granted an extension of the order. The restraining order, which expired in April 2015, required Pursehouse to stay at least 100 yards away from Harwick and refrain from contacting her.
Diana Arias, a friend of Harwick, started an online petition Monday seeking to expand the rights of domestic violence victims. More than 15,000 people had signed the petition as of Tuesday afternoon.
Arias is hoping the petition will prompt state lawmakers to keep restraining orders valid for longer than five years — the current maximum under state law — without a renewal and mandate long-term counseling for the alleged abuser, among other measures.
Arias also takes issue with the fact that victims are forced to testify in the same courtroom as their alleged abusers. She suggests this could be remedied with the use of video live streaming.
“We want to push for laws to be changed in her honor so this doesn’t happen to anyone else,” Arias told the Los Angeles Times.
Lucy Lee, who became friends with Harwick in 2011, said she and others were hoping to harness the attention on Harwick’s death to advocate for legal changes that they hoped would protect others.
“So many women have been affected by domestic violence and have been let down by our system that doesn’t step in to help until it’s too late,” she said. “This is the one story we heard about, but how many women are dying every day that we’re not hearing about?”
Harwick, who had a master’s degree in clinical psychology and a doctorate in human sexuality, appeared in the 2015 documentary “Addicted to Sexting.” In 2014, she wrote a book titled “The New Sex Bible for Women.”
She was previously engaged to TV star Drew Carey. The pair dated for two years before breaking up in 2018. Carey said in a statement that he was “overcome with grief” over her death.
“Amie and I had a love that people are lucky to have once in a lifetime,” he said. “She was a positive force in the world, a tireless and unapologetic champion for women, and passionate about her work as a therapist.”