“I”m going to be late. I love you and I”ll be back”: The last words of Miami cannibal to his girlfriend just hours before horrific attack
Rudy Eugene, 31, tore into victim”s face with his teeth and growled Police believe he may have taken “bath salts,” a potent new drug
Images have been released of Ronald Poppo, 65, recovering in Miami hospital75 per cent of victim”s face chewed off in “some of the most horrific injuries staff have ever encountered”
Was still conscious when he was stretchered off to hospitalInvestigators trying to piece together last hours of Eugene”s lifeSister of Mr Poppo thought he killed himself years agoGirlfriend of Eugene thinks Voodoo curse caused attack
The girlfriend of Rudy Eugene, 31, the man who police say horrifically ate a homeless man”s face over Memorial Day weekend, has spoken out for the first time about the man she knew and loved.
Eugene”s victim, Ronald Poppo, 65, remains in critical condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital with his nose, mouth and eyes torn off. His sister, Antoinette Poppo, thought he had killed himself years ago and is distraught by the news of his injuries.
The harrowing attack, which has shocked America, took place on Saturday afternoon on the MacArthur Causeway near Miami beach.
But Eugene”s girlfriend today recalled the last time she saw him on the morning of the attack, when he was holding his Bible and kissed her goodbye, saying “I love you.”
Loved: The girlfriend of Rudy Eugene, 31, the man who police say gnawed off a homeless man”s face over Memorial Day weekend, is speaking out for the first time about the man she knew and loved, pictured as a boy
The girlfriend, who did not wish to giver her name, spoke to The Miami Herald about her on-off boyfriend.
She said on the morning of the attack he woke her up at 5:30 a.m., saying he had to run out to meet a friend. “I told him be safe and I love you too. When he walked out the door I closed it, locked it and went back to sleep,” she said.
She said she thought it was odd he was leaving so early, but didn”t press the issue. An hour later, he called.
“He called me and told me his car broke down. He said, “I’ll be home, but I’m going to be a little late.” Then he said, “I love you and I’ll be back,”” she said, never to hear from him again.
CBS acquired footage of his purple car in the city impound, where it ended up after he discarded it.
Eugene”s girlfriend said she became concerned when he never called her back and went out to search for him.
“I was worried. I couldn’t do anything. I just kept calling the phone,” she said to The Miami Herald. “I left messages saying, “Rudy, call me, I’m really worried.”
When she returned home that night, she saw the news on the television about a nude man who chewed off the face of another nude man.
“I thought to myself, “Oh my God, that’s crazy,”” she said. “I didn’t know that it was Rudy.”
Worried: Eugene”s girlfriend said she became concerned when he never called her back and went out to search for him
She continued to search for him on Sunday, but to no avail. On Monday morning, she got a call from someone in his family saying “Rudy’s dead, Rudy’s dead.”
She went to meet his family to grieve and that”s when she learned Eugene was the “Miami Cannibal.”
She insists that he never used any recreational drugs besides marijuana and was even trying to quit. Eugene would refuse to take over-the-counter medication for headaches and was sweet and well-mannered, she said.
The attack could only be explained by Eugene being drugged or the victim of a Voodoo curse, she said. “I don’t know how else to explain this,” she said.
Clean: She insists that he never used any recreational drugs besides marijuana and was even trying to quit. She claims he must have been drugged, or worse, cursed
Rescue: Paramedics tend to the victim, putting him on a stretcher and dressing his gruesome injuries
“That wasn’t him, that was his body but it wasn’t his spirit. Somebody did this to him,” she said. “He loved God he always read the Bible he would give you knowledge on the Bible. Everywhere he went his Bible went. When he left he had his Bible in his hand.”
Ruth Charles, Eugene”s mother, was also shocked by the news reports of her sons crimes and reached out to the media to try and clear his name.
“Everyone says he was a Zombie. He was no Zombie. That was my son,” Ms Charles said to CBS.
She said that her boy was good-natured, went to church often and had recently given her a Mother”s Day card.
“I never had any problems with him,” she said, flipping open a photo album of Eugene growing up.
Mr Poppo”s sister, Antoinette Poppo, also spoke to CBS, shocked not only that the victim of the notorious Miami Cannibal was her brother, but that he was alive at all.
Still conscious: As he is transported from the walkway to the ambulance, Mr Poppo starts moving his arms around
“I really don’t understand what happened,” Ms Poppo said. “We really thought he was no longer on this earth.”
Mr Poppo had been living on the streets of Florida for the past 30 years, estranged from his family who thought he had committed suicide years before.
The Miami Herald reported that Mr Poppo would stay just outside a public restroom on the north side of Jungle Island in Miami.
“I’m very upset. I’m just glad my mother isn’t here to see this.”
Victim”s Sister, Antoinette Poppo
It would take just minutes to walk to Mr Poppo”s hangout from where Eugene”s car broke down, CBS reported.
Ms Poppo has only just learned that her brother is still alive, hanging on for dear life.
“I remember a very intelligent boy,” Ms Poppo told CBS, beginning to cry. “I’m very upset. I’m just glad my mother isn’t here to see this.”
Mr Poppo was once a student at a prestigious New York school before he became a down-and-out.
A yearbook picture of Ronald Poppo was obtained by the New York Daily News, who reported the victim was in the Latin Club and worked in the guidance office at Stuyvesant High School before he became homeless.
Fall from grace: Ronald Poppo when he was a star student at Stuyvesant High School in New York, left, and as a down-and-out in Florida
Lost: Mr Poppo had been living on the streets of Florida for the past 30 years, estranged from his family
Recently released footage of the 65-year-old”s dramatic rescue shows he was still conscious and moving his arms after the attack, while Rudy Eugene”s body lay next to him.
After paramedics tend to the victim”s facial injuries, they carefully place him on a stretcher.
As they carry him from the walkway where the attack took place to the ambulance, he starts to wave his arms around and has to be strapped down.
Restrain: The paramedic tries to stop the victim from moving as they realize the man is still conscious despite his harrowing injuries
As police piece together the last hours of Eugene”s life, they believe he attended a Memorial Day weekend beach party before making the three-mile journey home on foot in more than 90F.
He took off and scattered his clothes as he walked across the causeway – police later foundhis drivers license and clothes strewn from the beach to the mainland -before pouncing on the homeless man he found sleeping on the elevated train tracks, according to the Miami Herald.
After he strips and punches his victim, he straddles him before starting to eat his face off. Cars and anumber of cyclists passed the two men while the attack took place.
It was almost 20 minutes until officer Jose Rivera shot Eugene shortly after he arrived. He shouted at the 31-year-old to stop but he simply got up and growled and continued eating at the man”s face.
Former friends of the dead attacker today spoke of their shock at the brutal assault.
A former classmate of Eugene Victoria Forte, who attended North Miami Beach High School, told the Sun Sentinel: “Drugs didthis to him. Drugs took over a person we knew as a beautiful person.”
Accordingto Miami police, the first call of a disturbance came from a passing motorist who reported seeing Eugene stripping off his clothes and actingerratically.
A Road Ranger called to the scene also called 911 and used a loudspeaker to call for the naked attacker to cease.
Revealed: New Footage shows how Eugene came upon his victim Ronald Poppo by chance as he was strolling along naked, then stripped him and ate his face off
Not helping: A white car slows down as it rides by before taking off again. It was almost 20 minutes until help arrived
As the attack dragged on, two other motorists called police, as did another cyclist, Larry Vega, who later told reporters that Eugene “just stood, his head up like that, with pieces of flesh in his mouth. And he growled”. He also said it was the most gruesome and traumatic thing he had ever seen”.
According to the Herald, Eugene had been in Miami Beach for the Memorial Day Weekend shortly before the attack.
His car, a purple 1995 Chevrolet Caprice, was towed for being parked illegally at 1100 10th Street, according to police.
Down: A side view shows the naked attacker shortly after he was shot dead by police
Itis believed Eugene was under the influence of a potent form of drug called “bath salts” at the time but toxicology results will take severalweeks.
Emergency room doctors at Jackson Memorial Hospital said they have seen an increase in incidents related to the drug, which is referred to on the street as “the new LSD”.
“We noticed an increase probably after Ultra Fest,” said emergency room Dr Paul Adams, at Jackson Memorial Hospital to CBS.
Whenpeople take bath salts, Dr Adams said, their temperature rises to an extremely high level, causing them to rip off their clothes and become aggressive in a state of extreme delirium.
Some have been known to use their jaws as a weapon of attack, Dr Adams said, and they become “extremely strong”.
“I took care of a 150 pound individual who you would have thought he was 250 pounds,” Dr Adams said to CBS.
“It took six security officers to restrain the individual.”
DrAdams said that the new drug is not only a danger to those who take it,but also emergency responders who must restrain the drug-addled abusersof it.
“It’s dangerous for the police,” Dr Adams said.
“It’sdangerous for the fire fighters. It’s dangerous for the hospital workers taking care of them because they come in, they have to be restrained both chemically and physically and you’re asking for someone to get hurt.”
He added that as the body toll of this new trend of drug rises, the drug dealers that push it will be held liable for the attacks.
Horrific: Only Mr Poppo”s goatee remains, left, after the attack, right, in these pictures which MailOnline has chosen to heavily censor
Caught: Surveillance footage shows the two naked men after the attacker was shot by police
But as more information comes out regarding what may have caused Eugene to attack Mr Poppo, images of the victim”s face reveal the extent of the damage.
Images of Mr Poppo – all of which have not been confirmed by police as genuine – have surfaced online showing most of the victim”s face removed.
“Hehad his face eaten down to his goatee. The forehead was just bone. No nose, no mouth,” said Sgt Armando Aguilar, president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police.
“He had his face eaten down to his goatee. The forehead was just bone. No nose, no mouth.”
Sgt Armando Aguilar
SgtJavier Ortiz, vice president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, said it was one of the bloodiest “and goriest scenes I”ve ever been to.”
The Miami Herald reports that Mr Poppo has been homeless for some time, at least since 1983, and has a long history of arrests.
He was arrested at least 24 times since 1978, mostly for drinking in public and trespassing, but also a handful of felony arrests for burglary, assault and resisting arrest.
Friends and family of Eugene have come forward claiming that the North Miami Beach High School graduate “was not a face-eating zombie monster”.
“The Rudy we know was a nice gentleman with a warm smile and funny. He’s not like that at all,” former classmate Victoria Forte told The Miami Herald. “We are going to do our part as his friends to not let him go down like this.”
Long-time friend Cassandra Metayer said that Eugene was the son of Haitain immigrants and he grew up in Miami Beach.
He played football and married Ms Metayer”s cousin Jenny Ductant in 2005, but divorced two years later.
Down: Surveillance footage shows the two naked men lying on the walkway next to a major Miami highway, and since the left body never moves, he is the victim whose face was being chewed by the right man
However, the couple”s divorce records, obtained by The Miami Herald, show that he had no income.
“Iwouldn”t say he had mental problems but he always felt like people wereagainst him … No one was for him, everyone was against him,” Ms Ductant said to WPLG-TV.
She said that over the course of their relationship, Eugene became increasingly violent towards her.
“That”s why I left,” she said, adding that the two hadn”t spoken in the past three to four years.
Ives Eugene, who identified himself as Rudy Eugene”s uncle, described his nephew as a “nice and hard-working” man who washed cars at a local dealership.
FloridaDepartment of Law Enforcement records show Eugene was arrested a numberof times in the past few years, once for battery, trespassing, and fourtimes for marijuana related charges.
In 2004, he was arrested for threatening to kill his mother.
“We could hear him yelling and throwing things inside the house,” said Mike Pons to WPLG-TV, one of the North Miami police detectives who arrested Eugene.
“He wasn”t cooperative, wouldn”t follow orders, very belligerent,” Detective Pons said. “He had that thousand-yard stare, staring right into you, not assessing or understanding what the commands were.”
Eugene was one of the first people ever to be tasered by North Miami Beach police, needing to be shocked with a stun gun three times to be subdued.
Witness: Larry Vega was cycling off the MacArthur Causeway on Saturday afternoon when he saw the savage attack, which he described as “the most gruesome, traumatic thing I have ever seen in my life”
A cyclist described the terrifying moment he witnessed Eugene tear pieces of flesh from Mr Poppo”s face at the side of the freeway.
LarryVega, from Miami, was cycling off the MacArthur Causeway on Saturday afternoon when he saw the savage attack, which he described as “the mostgruesome, traumatic thing I have ever seen in my life”.
Hetold WSVN: “The guy was like tearing him to pieces with his mouth and Itold him to get off. But the guy just kept eating the other guy away, like ripping his skin.
“A police officer came over, told him several times to get off then climbedover the divider and got in front of him and said, “Get off!” But the guy just stood his head up like that with a piece of flesh in his mouth and growled.”
Still alive: The attacker moves and sits up even though he had already been shot, and police continue to shoot him until he finally dies on the scene
Mr Vega said Eugene continued to eat his victim”s face so he was shot repeatedly.
Images taken from a Miami Herald surveillance camera show the legs of the two men lying beneath a freeway underpass.
Mr Vega described the crime scene – which he compared to a horror movie: “It was just a blob of blood. You couldn”t really see, it was just blood all over the place.
“It was one of the most gruesome things I have ever seen in my life in person. You know, you see these things in the movies but when you see it in person, it”s pretty traumatic.”
Hero: A police spokesman called the officer who repeatedly shot the attacker “a hero”
Growing concern: Police cars gather as the situation progresses
MacArthur Causeway is a major route that connects downtown Miami to popular South Beach.
Traffic clogged the area for hours as people used the route to descend into South Beach for Urban Beach Week, an annual festival dedicated to hip-hop music.
Tragedy: The naked man was shot dead by police near The Miami Herald newspaper”s parking garage after he wouldn”t stop eating the victim
Issues: The victim was in hospital as traffic was clogged for hours as people used the route to get to the annual Urban Beach Week festival (pictured)