The girlfriend of the face-eating attacker who mauled off most of another man’s face said her boyfriend was either unknowingly drugged or placed under a voodoo curse.
She told the Miami Herald the attacker, identified as 31-year-old Rudy Eugene, was “sweet and well-mannered.” The girlfriend, who asked that her name not be disclosed, said she was shocked to hear her boyfriend was the man everyone was calling the “Miami Zombie.”
“Something happened out of the ordinary that day. I don’t want him to be labeled the Miami Zombie,” she told the Herald. “He was a person. I don’t want him to go down like that.”
Eugene was fatally shot by an officer as he chewed off more than 80 percent of a homeless man’s face. The victim, identified as 65-year-old Ronald Poppo, remains in critical condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
The Jackson Memorial Foundation said Thursday that it has set up a fund to help Poppo through its website, www.jmf.org.
Surveillance videos captured by security cameras at the Miami Herald building show Eugene walking on a pedestrian bridge near MacArthur Causeway Saturday and encountering his victim.
In the nearly 20-minute attack, Eugene dragged Poppo along the sidewalk and ripped his clothes off, the video showed.
Authorities said when the officer, identified as Jose Rivera, arrived, he was forced to open fire and kill Eugene when he continued to savagely attack Poppo’s face. Officials said Eugene growled at the officer and kept eating at the man’s face.
Eugene’s girlfriend said she was hysterical when she heard it was her boyfriend who had attacked the man on MacArthur Causeway.
“I thought to myself, ‘Oh my God, that’s crazy,’ she told the Herald. “I didn’t know that it was Rudy.”
She said Eugene was never violent around her and though he smoked marijuana, didn’t use stronger drugs, the newspaper said.
Records showed Eugene was arrested for a variety of charges between 2004 and 2008, including battery and trespassing. He also served time for selling and possessing marijuana.
The girlfriend said the day he died Eugene kissed her goodbye, told her "I love you" and left early in the morning with his Bible in his hand.
She said Eugene, who worked at a car wash, would always read the Bible to her and carried it with him everywhere.
Eugene's brother told NBC 6 Wednesday that he was also a little shocked when he heard about what happened.
“Pretty uncharacteristic of him. It was real weird – kind of mixed emotions, I think,” said the brother, who only gave his first name, Thompson. “Through the whole thing I was mostly thinking about my mom.”
Eugene's girlfriend said though she’s never believed in voodoo, she does now.
“I don’t know how else to explain this,” she told the Herald.
The Jackson Memorial Foundation said those interested in contributing to Poppo's fund should click the "Take Action Now" tab on its site, then click donations, select "others" under contribution details, and type in Ronald Poppo.
Checks made out to Jackson Memorial Foundation can also be mailed to Jackson Memorial Foundation, Park Plaza East, Suite G, 901 NW 17th Street, Miami, FL 33136.
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