The Miami man who chomped the flesh off of a homeless drifter in May — sparking nationwide interest in “zombie” attacks — may have met his victim at least once before, according to a new report.
Rudy Eugene, 31, who was killed by police during the gruesome mauling, randomly encountered Ronald Poppo while doing community work handing out meals to the homeless a few years ago, a friend of Eugene’s told The Miami Herald.
“Poppo seemed like a nice and kind man,” said Fredric Christian, 34, who claimed to have been with Eugene at the time. “I remember when we gave him food.”
Whether Eugene would have recognized Poppo, 65, the day of the attack along a busy Miami causeway is unclear. Video surveillance, partially caught by The Herald, showed a naked Eugene crossing paths with Poppo, who was reclining in the shade near the causeway.
Eugene slugged him repeatedly, rolled his body on the ground and took off his pants. He chewed on Poppo’s face, and it wasn’t until an officer arrived at the scene and shot him — after police say he ignored requests to stop — that the attack ended.
About 80% of Poppo’s face was gone, according to reports, and he continues to recover following several skin graft operations.
The Herald’s account, which was published Sunday, also said that at least four churches declined to provide a memorial service for Eugene after his death. He was described as being open about religion when he was alive, leading a Bible study and quoting scripture.
“I felt so much frustration. I was angry,” Eugene’s mother, Ruth
Charles, told The Herald about her experience being turned away from various churches — eventually finding a funeral home chapel to hold a sevice.
It’s still unclear what set off Eugene on May 26. Initially, authorities speculated he may have been using bath salts or other synthetic drugs, but toxicology results last month showed only traces of marijuana.
Officials also didn’t find any human flesh in his stomach, although witnesses claimed he swallowed pieces of Poppo’s face.
There were also reports of ripped Bible verses found near Eugene’s lifeless body. It's not unheard of for religious delusions to play a part in schizophrenic behavior, said forensic psychologist Dr. Wade Silverman.
To read the rest of this story at the New York Daily News, CLICK HERE.