Believe it or not, Rudy Eugene — the man who was gunned down in Miami after he ate more than half of another man’s face off — was a regular guy with a family, friends … and even a girlfriend.
31-year-old Rudy Eugene is a global spectacle, and has been making headlines worldwide after he chewed off 75-80% of the flesh from the face of a 65-year-old man named Ronald Poppo, who was reportedly homeless.
Earlier reports indicated that Eugene was also homeless, but as more details about his personal life and background emerge, comes news that he, in fact, had a home, and a live-in girlfriend.
On the Saturday morning (May 26) before Rudy Eugene would become known as the “Miami Cannibal” or the “Miami Zombie” … he held his Bible, and kissed his on-again, off-again girlfriend goodbye after he had woke her up at 5:30 am to tell her he was going out to meet with a “homeboy.”
Rudy’s girlfriend says he didn’t tell her the name of the friend, or where he was going, and she thought it was strange that he was going through the closet looking for clothes so early in the morning, but she didn’t question him about it.
Before running out the door, he gave her a kiss on the lips and told her “I love you.”
“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,” said Rudy’s girlfriend — who spoke to the Miami Herald on Wednesday under the condition of anonymity.
An hour later she woke up to a phone call. Rudy had called her cell to tell her that his car had broke down.
“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’m going to call you right back.'”
But Rudy didn’t call back, and that was the last time that his girlfriend would speak to him.
She said she left several messages on his phone before she jumped into her car and drove through North Miami and Miami Gardens looking for him at places he frequents with friends and family.
“I was worried. I couldn’t do anything. I just kept calling the phone,” she said. “I left messages saying, ‘Rudy, call me, I’m really worried.'”
Later that night after she still hadn’t heard from Rudy, she turned on the TV to watch the late-night news, and heard the most unreal story she had probably heard in her entire life:
A naked man near the Miami Herald building had pounced on an innocent homeless man, and savagely used his teeth to rip chunks of flesh from the homeless man’s face. The cannibalistic attacker, with pieces of flesh dangling from his teeth, was shot dead by police.
“I thought to myself, ‘Oh my God, that’s crazy,’ she said, adding that she would have never guessed that the naked cannibal was her religious, Bible-toting boyfriend Rudy Eugene, who often reads scriptures to friends and family, and sometimes to her at night.
“If someone was lost or didn’t know God, he would tell them about him,” she said, adding that Rudy was a “believer in God” and was never violent around her in the five years that they’d been together.
Eugene’s girlfriend spent the next day — Sunday (May 27) — calling friends and family, asking if they had seen him. When they couldn’t come up with any answers, she took to the streets of Miami once again, but had no luck in finding him, as fate would have it.
She says Monday morning (May 28) was when she got the phone call that would change her life. “Rudy’s dead, Rudy’s dead,” the caller with terrible news shouted into the phone.
“I immediately started to scream,” she said. “I don’t know when I hung up the phone, I was hysterical.”
When she went to go grieve with the rest of Rudy’s family in North Miami Beach, the bad news, turned into worse news. The man everyone was referring to as the “Miami Zombie” … was her dead boyfriend.
She couldn’t believe it, she says. “That’s not Rudy, that’s not Rudy,” she remembered saying aloud in shock. “I’ll never be the same,” she said.
Rudy Eugene’s girlfriend says the man being depicted in the media as a “monster” isn’t the sweet, well-mannered man she knew and loved.
She said that even though he smoked a lot of weed, he didn’t use stronger recreational drugs, and even refused to take over-the-counter medication (like ibuprofen) for simple ailments such as headaches.
Eugene’s girlfriend also said that she was surprised to hear reports that he had been in South Beach in the hours before his savage attack against the homeless man.
In fact, she said Eugene had told her that he wanted to actually avoid South Beach, on account of the heavy police presence for Urban Beach Week. He had been arrested in the past for marijuana possession, and told her that he didn’t want to get arrested.
But Rudy’s girlfriend has her own theory about what happened that fateful day.
Miami police said they believe that when Eugene stripped naked and attacked the homeless man, he was under the influence of a new synthetic drug called “bath salts“ that mimics the effects of highly potent (and illegal) substances like cocaine, LSD and meth-amphetamines … and is known to trigger violent behavior and psychosis.
His girlfriend thinks that someone drugged him unknowingly. Either that, or a supernatural force took over his body and made him act out like a savage beast as as a result of someone putting a voodoo curse on him.
“Something happened out of the ordinary that day. I don’t want him to be labelled the ‘Miami Zombie’,” she told the Miami Herald.
Gruesome accounts of the violent attack may prove her theory that her boyfriend was either drugged or cursed.
An eyewitness told local reporters that he saw Eugene eating his victim’s face and ordered him to stop. “The guy just stood, his head up like that, with pieces of flesh in his mouth. And he growled,” the man said.
The gruesome attack would go on for nearly 20 minutes before officers were able to shoot and kill Eugene, who also growled at them as they too ordered him to stop.
Sgt. Armando Aguilar told a Miami NBC affiliate that Rudy “was actually swallowing pieces of the man’s face.”
He added that as a result of the savage attack, the victim’s “face [was] eaten down to his goatee … the forehead was just bone — no nose, no mouth.”
The 65-year-old victim — Ronald Poppo — is currently being treated at the city’s Jackson Memorial Hospital, and is said to be in “stable condition,” and will most likely recover.
There are reports that Poppo will undergo facial construction, with the costs (estimated to be up to $200,000) to be paid for by his local county.
His attacker, Rudy Eugene, is originally from the country of Haiti, where over 90% of the people are believed to practice voodoo. His girlfriend — who is not Haitian — said she didn’t believe in voodoo “until now.”
“I don’t know how else to explain the attack,” she said.
Eugene and his girlfriend met in 2007. She says Eugene pulled up to her while in traffic on a Miami street and motioned for her to roll down her window, which she did.
“I thought he was cute. I shouted out my number to him and he called me right then. We clicked immediately.”
Their five-year relationship had its ups and downs, and sometimes they would separate for months, then get back together again. Like most couples, she said their problems usually came from issues with communication.
She said Eugene worked at a car wash, and someday wanted to own his own business.