People are still puzzled as to what exactly possessed Rudy Eugene to gnaw on a man until he chewed his face off—so much so that some have concluded that it could only have been demonic possession. He began the morning of May 26 driving to his friend’s house in Miami. But then his car broke down and he chose to walk back home over the MacArthur Causeway. Temperatures were in the 90s, and the 31-year-old began to strip off his clothes until he was completely naked. At the end of the bridge was Ronald Poppo, 65, a homeless man who was sleeping under the Metromover tracks. Eugene then jumped on Poppo, first trying to strip off his clothes and then literally eating him, attacking Poppo’s eyes, nose and mouth. The assault was captured on a surveillance camera and witnessed by passing cyclists who called police. Unable to stop Eugene, they shot him to death.
More than 75% of Poppo’s face was ripped off and he has been undergoing extensive surgeries ever since. He later said Eugene “ripped me to ribbons.”
“He apparently didn’t have a good day at the Beach,” Poppo told the Miami Herald “and he – he was coming back. And I guess he took it out, took it out on me or something. I don’t know.”
Eugene had a record of petty crime and drug offenses. He had also once been taken in by the police after threatening to kill his mother. Toxicology tests on his corpse showed he only had marijuana in his system.
Eugene’s family is of Haitian descent and the community feared that vodou played a role in Eugene’s attack on Poppo. His mother could not find a church that would hold his funeral. It would take two weeks before a funeral home agreed to hold the service. “What happened to Rudy had to be supernatural, something humans cannot explain, something that leaves us with a lot of questions,” his girlfriend Rikkia Cross later told the Herald. “I just wish he would come to me in a dream and answer all the questions. I wish he would tell me what happened that day.”