Ronald Poppo, 65, victim of the attack by 31-year-old "Miami cannibal," Rudy Eugene, has spoken about the terrifying experience on May 26 from which he barely escaped with this life.
The "Miami Zombie" attack made international headlines. The victim, Poppo, was left blind, with missing nose and face torn to shreds. He was idling on MacArthur Causeway's Downtown exit ramp on May 26 when Rudy Eugene, who had stripped off his clothes as he walked along the causeway, attacked him. Eugene had spent the Saturday on Miami beach, Digital Journal reported.
Police shot Eugene after he ignored order to stop the attack. Digital Journal reports he was widely speculated to have been on bath salts, but toxicology tests released last month showed he had only marijuana in his system.
According to The Inquisitr, Poppo, in a police interview tape recorded on July 19th and obtained by CBS Miami, said Eugene came up to him and started talking and then brutally attacked him. According to Poppo, Eugene first approached him in a friendly manner but later attacked him and threw him to the ground.
The Inquistr reports Poppo said: “For a very short amount of time I thought he was a good guy. But he just went and turned berserk. He apparently didn’t have a good day at the Beach and he -– he was coming back. And I guess he took it out — took it out on me — or something. I don’t know. What can provoke an attack of that type. I certainly didn’t curse at the guy, or say anything mean or nasty to him.”
Poppo suggested Eugene was on drugs. He said: "He was talking kind of funny talk for a while too... That I was gonna die. And he was gonna die. He must have been souped up on something. He had some kind [of] desperate preoccupation of that type.”
He said Eugene told him he did not enjoy his morning on Miami Beach because "he wasn’t scoring there, or something. He went to the Beach to score, or something. He is in...kind of...flustered mode about it." He said: "He just ripped me to ribbons. He chewed up my face. He plucked out my eyes. Basically that’s all there is to say about it... He mashed my face into the sidewalk. My face is all bent and mashed up... He was strangling me in wrestling holds at the same time he was plucking my eyes out."
According to CBS Miami, in an earlier interview dated May 26, Poppo said Eugene appeared "out of the blue." He said Eugene told him: “You’re going to be my wife and this is going to be a Lover’s Concerto.” According to Poppo, Eugene began singing “Lover’s Concerto," a "song recorded by The Toys and later covered by The Supremes in 1966."
Poppo denied reports that he had earlier met Eugene at a homeless shelter. He told the police he had never met Eugene in his life and that he has no idea why he was attacked. He also denied claims he was attacked because he stole Eugene's Bible. Poppo admitted to detectives that Rudy Eugene blamed him for stealing his Bible, but police had found pieces of Eugene’s Bible scattered along the causeway, so Poppo actually never stole the Bible.
According to CBS Miami, the officer asked Poppo: “Did Mr. Eugene have anything in his hands?”
Poppo answered: “No. Mr. Eugene did not have any type of weapon. He did not use any weapon on me. He basically was using brute force.”
The officer asked: “But before he attacked you,did he have any clothes? Any materials? Any books?"
Poppo: “No. I don’t recall him having anything.”
Poppo was confused about some details of the incident. But given the extent of his facial injuries and the trauma he suffered, police interrogators were not surprised. For instance, Poppo thought Eugene came out of a car on the highway, but CCTV shows this was false. Poppo also thought Eugene was clothed when he attacked him, but CCTV shows Eugene was naked when he launched the attack.
Poppo concluded the interview, saying: “I thank the Miami Police Department for saving my life. That’s about the best I could sum it up as. If they didn’t get there in a nick of time, I would’ve definitely been in worse shape. Possibly I’d be DOA."
The Huffington Post reports Poppo is covered by Medicare and Medicaid. A fund set up to assist him had raised $110,700 by mid-July.
Poppo is from New York, but he has been living on the streets of Florida for the past 30 years after becoming estranged from his family. Members of his family, including his sister Antoinette, say they thought he had committed suicide several years ago.
According to CBS Miami, the interview was conducted and recorded by homicide Det. Sgt. Altarr Willimas and Det. Frankie Sanchez.
A full transcript of the interview may be seen here.