Uncensored surveillance video from the Miami Herald building shows the 18-minute face-eating attack on victim Ronald Poppo on the MacArthur Causeway. Police arrive at the scene, shooting attacker Rudy Eugene around minute 18.
It was a scene as creepy as a Hannibal Lecter movie.
One man was shot to death by Miami police, and another man is fighting for his life after he was attacked, and his face allegedly half eaten, by a naked man on the MacArthur Causeway off ramp Saturday, police said.
The horror began about 2 p.m. when a series of gunshots were heard on the ramp, which is along NE 13th Street, just south of The Miami Herald building.
According to police sources, a road ranger saw a naked man chewing on another man’s face and shouted on his loud speaker for him to back away. Meanwhile, a woman also saw the incident and flagged down a police officer who was in the area.
The officer, who has not been identified, approached and, seeing what was happening, also ordered the naked man to back away. When he continued the assault, the officer shot him, police sources said. The attacker failed to stop after being shot, forcing the officer to continue firing. Witnesses said they heard at least a half dozen shots.
Miami police were on the scene, which was just south of The Miami Herald building on Biscayne Boulevard. The naked man who was killed lay face down on the pedestrian walkway just below the newspaper’s two-story parking garage. Police have requested The Herald’s video surveillance tapes.
The other man was transported to the hospital with critical injuries, according to police. Their identities were not released.
The incident, which came as crowds descended upon South Beach for the annual Urban Beach Week hip-hop festival, snarled traffic on the causeway for several hours.
In a text message, Javier Ortiz, spokesman for Miami police’s Fraternal Order of Police, said the officer who fired the fatal shots was “a hero.”
“Based on the information provided, our Miami police officer is a hero and saved a life,’’ he said.
Sergeant Altarr Williams, supervisor of Miami police’s Homicide Unit, said a man doesn’t have to be armed to be dangerous.
“There are other ways to injure people,’’ Williams said. “Some people know martial arts, others are very strong and can kill you with their hands.’’
Investigators believe the victim may have been homeless and laying down when the crazed man pounced.
Police theorize the attacker might have been suffering from “cocaine psychosis,” a drug-induced craze that bakes the body internally and often leads the affected to strip naked to try and cool off.
Sources identified the man who was shot and killed by police while biting off parts of another man’s face near Downtown Miami on Saturday.
Police sources identified the man as Rudy Eugene.
Police said Eugene, 31, was found attacking another man near the west end of the MacArthur Causeway and Biscayne Boulevard on Saturday afternoon.
“When the officer approached him, told him to stop, pointed a gun at him, he turned around and growled like a wild animal and kept eating at the man’s face,” Fraternal Order of Police President Armando Aguilar said Sunday.
A witness said Eugene was biting off pieces of the other man’s face and tossing them aside. He described it as looking like a scene out of The Walking Dead.
Police then shot and killed Eugene after attempting to stop the assault.
It’s unclear what sparked the fight.
Aguilar said Eugene had likely overdosed, citing four past instances in Miami-Dade County when people overdosed on a type of LSD, removed their clothes, and became violent.
“It causes them to go completely insane and become very violent,” said Aguilar.
The victim, a homeless man who frequents the same area where he was nearly killed, is listed in critical condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Aguilar said 75 to 80 percent of the victim’s face was missing.
Both men have had prior run-ins with law enforcement. Miami-Dade court records for both show both men have been arrested for mostly a handful of misdemeanors.
Who is Rudy Eugene?
Eugene was previously married. He met his now ex-wife in high school at North Miami Beach Senior High.
Their marriage was short-lived, lasting a year and a half.
“I wouldn’t say he had mental problem but he always felt like people was against him type of attitude. No one was for him, everyone was against him,” said Eugene’s ex-wife.
The two filed for divorce in 2007 during a violent point in their relationship.
The woman told Local 10’s Terrell Forney that Eugene became increasingly violent toward her.
“That’s why I left,” said Eugene’s ex-wife.
The two had not spoken in three or four years.
A woman who answered the door at Eugene’s former North Miami Beach home told Local 10 that the prior family had lost the 1-story house to foreclosure in 2011.
However, Eugene would often pop up to the home unannounced, often looking for mail, which made the new family uncomfortable.
“He kind of looked weird a little bit but other than that I said as long as I’ve got bats and got the alarm system put up, I was okay,” said the woman.
The homeless, who camp near where it all happened, say they knew Eugene. They saw him frequently in that area walking around confused.
“I was actually talking to him the other day,” one homeless man said. “It’s pretty weird.
CBS4 has confirmed, along with news partner The Miami Herald, the identity of the man whose face was laid bare by the cannibal attack of Rudy Eugene on the MacArthur Causeway Saturday afternoon.
Even before he was apparently attacked by a cannibal as holiday weekend travelers whizzed by along the MacArthur Causeway; Ronald Poppo lived a hard-knock life among the homeless men who call the space under the causeway home.
Poppo has not been officially identified by police or by officials at Jackson Memorial Hospital, but his identity has been confirmed by a CBS4 source and by Miami Herald sources.
His past shows time in New York City, and back in the 80′s, in New Orleans; but a long record of arrests for mostly petty crimes places him in the Miami area, at least off and on, as far back as 1978 when he was charged with criminal mischief.
Over the years, he dipped in and out of the courts for the types of crimes that are common when you don’t have a place to live.
In 1983, he was charged with sleeping in public. In 1989, it was violating park hours. Disorderly conduct, assault, petty larceny, and burglary all brought him into court, and then, sent him back to the street.
Poppo was arrested for drinking in public a number of times. When drinking, court records indicate, he seemed to be a bit of a brawler, charged with disorderly intoxication.Miami-Dade court records show the last time he appeared before a local judge was in 2006, for trespassing.
His mug shot in the Miami-Dade courts system shows a grizzled man with a full grey beard and flying hair.
Beyond the stark facts of police reports and public records, all that’s really known about Poppo is that he drank and hung out under the bridge; and on Saturday, he was the central figure in the last minutes of Rudy Eugene’s life.
The two men ended up on the bike path along the causeway; Poppo naked from the waist down and Eugene naked as a jaybird. That was weird even for Miami, but Poppo’s life was moving from sad to weird to bizarre.
Poppo was bleeding from the wounds he was getting from Eugene, who was ripping the flesh from Poppo’s face in strips. He bit off his nose, sources said and his eyes were gouged.
Alarmed passersby called police and even flagged an officer down, but when the cop arrived CBS4 sources said he couldn’t stop a growling, frenzied Eugene from his attack. So the cop fired his gun until Eugene stopped, because he was dead.
Nobody is sure why Eugene attacked, why he was making a meal of Poppo, or why Poppo was the target of his rage. Much of that was left a mystery when Eugene took his final breath.
Paramedics came and took Poppo to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he was treated for the bizarre cannibalistic attack. Gruesome photos circulating on the web show injuries so profound his chances for recovery seem small.
Hospital officials knew his identity, but couldn’t say anything about him. Since Saturday, they have tried without success to find a relative somewhere they can tell about what’s happened to Poppo and to get information for his care.
They have found nobody. After 65 years on this earth and barely surviving on the street; Poppo is now the victim of a bizarre cannibal who has left him disfigured with deadly injuries and he seems to be alone in the world. Until Saturday, he was a nobody. Now, he’s famous. All it took was a crazed cannibal attacker who had called the streets of Miami home.
Hours before a naked Rudy Eugene devoured nearly 75 percent of a homeless man’s face on the Miami side of the MacArthur Causeway, he spent the morning on South Beach, cruising the streets in his purple sedan and mingling with visitors in town for Urban Beach Weekend.
CBS4 News Investigative Reporter Jim DeFede was able to piece together the final twelve hours of Eugene’s life, culminating with the horrific moment Saturday afternoon when the 31-year-old turned into a growling cannibal and attacked Robert Poppo, a homeless man who frequently slept under the causeway. Eugene ripped the clothes from Poppo’s body and then the flesh from Poppo’s face before a Miami police officer finally arrived and shot Eugene to death.
Since the incident, police have been trying to learn how these two men’s lives came to intersect one another as well as what may have caused Eugene to turn into the living embodiment of Hannibal Lechter.
According to two police sources familiar with the investigation, at 2 a.m. on the day he would die Eugene was at his girlfriend’s house in Miami Gardens. She told police he seemed strange, going through his clothes and her clothes in a mania. Suddenly he announced he was going to leave, and drove to a friend’s house in NW Miami-Dade.
By 6 a.m., police said Eugene wanted his friend to come with him to Miami Beach and check the scene at Urban Beach Weekend, where 200 thousand people had gathered to party for Memorial day. When the friend said he had to work, police said Eugene went on his own.
Police now know he parked the car illegally in the area of Tenth Street and Alton Road, and then was unable to get it started so he could move it. CBS4′s sources said Eugene abandoned the car, which was later towed by Miami Beach officials, as part of their routine roundup that weekend of illegally parked cars.
Things get fuzzier at this point. There are no details about what Eugene did after he abandoned his car, but police believe he made the decision to cross the causeway on foot, a hike of a little more than 3 miles.
It was a hot day, with temperatures in the 90′s, and a long walk. Either late that morning, or early that afternoon, police sources said, Eugene began his trek back to Miami. As he walked across the causeway, they said he started stripping, leaving his clothes on the walkway and in the road.
Cops found his drivers license and clothes strewn from the beach to the mainland.
Had he not abandoned his car, Eugene likely would have driven right past the spot along the causeway under the elevated track of the MetroMover where he met Robert Poppo about 2 p.m.
Instead, on foot, he ran into the 68 year old homeless man, who police believe he’d never seen until that moment. It was at that point that police believe Eugene set in motion the events that led to his death at the hands of police and Poppo’s gruesome mutilation.
In images captured on a security camera mounted on the Miami Herald building, you can see what appears to be Eugene, now totally naked, attempting to strip the pants off Poppo as he attacked the man.
At that point, what police know is a blank until they started to get reports of a man attacking another man. One cyclist who rode past the fight flagged down an officer, and said a naked man was biting another man.
On the same security camera, you can see the officer drive up, get out of the car, and casually walk to where the two men were fighting, obscured from the camera view by the train track. Suddenly, the officer does a double take, pulls his gun, and aims it.
The head of the Miami Fraternal order of Police said the officer saw Eugene stripping the flesh from Poppo’s face with his teeth and ordered Eugene to stop. Eugene growled at the cop and continued to eat, Aguilar said, so the officer shot him.
When the shot had no effect, Aguilar said, the officer continued to shoot until Eugene’s cannibalistic meal stopped. Eugene was dead, and Poppo was left half naked in the street, his face a ruin. He was hospitalized and, according to CBS4 sources, has been unable to tell police anything.
While police now believe they know what happened, CBS4 sources say they simply don’t know what caused Eugene to attack Poppo, and more importantly, what caused him to turn cannibal.
Eugene, a former high school football player in the late 90s who married and was divorced in 2007, is believed to have had some tough financial times.
CBS4 sources said he was autopsied over the weekend by the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s office, which reportedly found nothing unusual. Toxicology screens which test for drugs and chemicals in the blood and body take much longer to complete, so police don’t know if drugs played a part in his maniacal rage and descent into cannibalism.
Results could take between two weeks and two months. Until then, the mystery will linger. Police are working under the theory that Eugene was under some kind of drug-induced psychosis, but at this point, it’s just a theory.
Poppo, who has a long record of homelessness and petty crime in Miami-Dade county, has tubes in his body and cannot speak. Sources tell CBS4 there is cautious optimism he will survive, a man with no home, and now, no face.
LeakSource journalist lesleyblood has obtained photos from the crime scene and victim’s face after the attack.
Local stations won’t show them, and some mainstream media are showing the crime scene photo censored.
LeakSource shows you what others won’t, the uncensored photos below.
There are still more questions than answers in the wake of one of South Florida’s most horrific crimes, a vicious and gruesome cannibal attack on a Miami causeway in broad daylight which ended only when a Miami police officer was forced to fire on the man believed to be in the midst of a drug-fueled rage.
Police, relatives and friends are still trying to figure out what would cause Rudy Eugene, 31, to attack a homeless man, a complete stranger, and devour 75-percent of his face before getting shot and killed by a Miami police officer.
His mother is speaking out for the first time, saying she wanted to remember her son’s kindness and telling CBS4′s Peter D’Oench that her son was “no zombie.”
“I feel devastated,” said the mother, asking us not to reveal her name or show her face. “That was not him who was seen on TV doing that. He was a nice kid. He was a good kid. He gave me a nice card on Mother’s Day. Everyone says he was a Zombie. He was no Zombie. That was my son.”
“I never had any problems with him,” she said. “The police don’t have to shoot him. They could have tased him. I saw what happened on TV and I started crying.”
“He had two baby brothers,” she said, “and they used to go to church all the time together.”
The man at the center of one of Miami’s most horrific crimes, a cannibal attack on the MacArthur Causeway, has left his on-again, off-again girlfriend thinking that Rudy Eugene was drugged unknowingly, or cursed.
Eugene’s girlfriend, who requested CBS4 News not use her name or show her face, said the attacker on the causeway was nothing like the man she knew and loved.
“Rudy Eugene was not no zombie or ‘Miami Zombie’ like they’re saying. He was a human being and that wasn’t him,” she said.
She described him as a “sweet loving gentleman” and a “hard working man” who worked at a car wash and dreamed of owning his own business.
Eugene, police said, ripped the face off 65-year-old Ronald Poppo, a homeless man who encountered Eugene on Saturday next to the Miami Herald building.
A witness described Eugene ripping at Poppo’s face with his mouth and growling at a Miami police officer who ordered him to get off the homeless man. The officer then shot and killed Eugene.
The head of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, Armando Aguilar, speculated that he may have been high on LSD or “bath salts,” which can cause psychosis as the body overheats.
Eugene did strip off all of his clothes as he walked from Miami Beach to the mainland over the MacArthur Causeway before encountering Poppo and beginning the unprovoked, savage attack.
Eugene’s girlfriend said she believes he was drugged unknowingly. The only other explanation, she said, was supernatural, that someone put a Vodou curse on him. The girlfriend, who unlike Eugene is not Haitian, said she has never believed in Vodou, until now. “I don’t know how else to explain this,” she told CBS4 News partner The Miami Herald.
Toxicology reports on Eugene’s body have not been completed. Results could take between two weeks and two months.
Eugene’s girlfriend said she has no idea what caused the vicious attack but she saw no signs of any violence in the nearly five years they lived together.
“That wasn’t him, that was his body but it wasn’t his spirit. Somebody did this to him,” she said. She described Eugene as religious.
“He loved God he always read the Bible he would give you knowledge on the Bible. Everywhere he went his Bible went. When he left he had his Bible in his hand.” She said Eugene left her home about 5:30 Saturday morning.
She said his last words to her were, “I love you and I’ll be back.”
She never saw him again.
A friend of Eugene’s since they were teenagers told The Herald on Wednesday that Eugene had been troubled in recent years.
Joe Aurelus said Eugene told him he wanted to stop smoking pot, and that friends were texting Eugene Bible verses.
“I was just with him two weeks ago,”’ he said. They were at a friend’s house watching a movie and Eugene had a Bible in his hand.
“He was going through a lot with his family,” Aurelus said, and jumping from job to job.
“Rudy was battling the devil.”
According to the girlfriend, she didn’t know the man behind the cannibal attack was her boyfriend until Monday morning.
She told the Herald when Eugene left their home early Saturday morning, he was going to meet with a “homeboy.” An hour later, Eugene called her and said his car broke down. He told her “I’ll be home, but I’m going to be a little late. Then he said, I’m going to call you right back.” That was the last time she heard from him.
Saturday afternoon, when she hadn’t heard from him, she searched for him in North Miami and Miami Gardens where he has family and friends.
“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.’”
She said Eugene never told her where he was going that morning, and she was surprised to hear reports that he’d been in South Beach for Urban Beach Weekend.
She said he told her he didn’t want to go to South Beach because of the heavy police presence. Eugene, who had been arrested in the past for possession of marijuana, told her he didn’t want to get arrested.
When she heard about the horrific attack on TV Saturday night, she had no idea it was Rudy.
Sunday, she searched for him again.
At 11 a.m. Monday, one of Eugene’s family members call her to tell her Rudy was dead.
“I immediately started to scream,’’ she said. “I don’t know when I hung up the phone, I was hysterical,” she told the Herald.
But it was not until the afternoon, when she left her home to grieve with the rest of Eugene’s family in North Miami Beach, that she heard even worse news: The man everyone was calling the ‘Miami Zombie’ was her boyfriend.
She didn’t believe it. “That’s not Rudy, that’s not Rudy,” she remembered saying aloud in shock.
“I’ll never be the same,” she said.
Despite the fact that he smoked marijuana, she said he didn’t use stronger recreational drugs and even refused to take over-the-counter medication for headaches, she said. He was sweet and well-mannered, she said.
Police now believe that Rudy Eugene, the so-called Miami Zombie, was not only naked, but was also carrying his bible, when he nearly beat a homeless man to death and chewed off three-quarters of his face.
A senior law enforcement official told CBS4′s Jim DeFede, Eugene’s bible was found with some of its pages ripped out at the scene of the May 26 cannibal attack that has captured worldwide attention.
The torn bible pages were found not far from the victim’s body. In interviews last week, Eugene’s mother described her son as a “church boy” who always carried his bible with him.
CBS4 News has also learned the preliminary toxicology report from Eugene’s autopsy revealed Eugene, 31, had been smoking marijuana near the time of the incident.
Investigators had hoped the initial tests might lead them to quickly identify other drugs Eugene might have taken which could have caused such psychotic behavior, but the law enforcement official said it will now be at least two months before all the lab work will be completed.
New details are also coming to light regarding the morning of the attack.
As CBS4 News was the first to report, Eugene had driven to South Beach during the early morning hours of May 26 for Urban Beach Weekend. Eugene parked his car near Tenth and Alton Road and after apparently not being able to get the car to start again decided to walk the three and a half miles over the MacArthur Causeway to downtown Miami.
Along the way he stripped off his clothes, tossing them on the road before ultimately encountering his 65-year-old victim, Ronald Poppo, who lived around and under the causeway.
According to the law enforcement source, surveillance video from a business near Tenth and Alton revealed that Eugene spent between 30 and 40 minutes around his purple Chevy festooned with Haitian flags. He can be seen getting in and out of the car during that time, as well as walking around it.
Detectives canvassed the area to see if Eugene had gone to that part of Miami Beach to visit someone, but they were unable to find anyone in the area who knew Eugene or even recall seeing him that morning.
Inside the car investigators found a Koran and five empty bottles of water. The water appeared to have been recently purchased, the law enforcement source told DeFede.
The water, and the notion that Eugene was extremely thirsty, offers investigators another clue into the possible drugs Eugene may have been taking.
For instance, people who take Ecstasy often crave water. Detectives won’t know if Eugene took Ecstasy, or some other drug, until the complete toxicology report is issued.
High-powered Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred came to South Florida Wednesday because her client, Yovanka Bryant, “wanted the truth to be known” about her relationship with the Causeway Cannibal, 31-year-old Rudy Eugene.
Allred told the gathered media Bryant was being confused with another woman in the press and that “they contacted me” in regards to how she got involved as Bryant’s lawyer and that “I was happy to be here.” Allred also said Bryant believes the issue of cannibalism was important to address.
“This is a high-profile case,” Allred said. “She (Yovanka) wanted to have the truth come out about Rudy Eugene to have people understand him from her point of view. That is why I am here, to help her have a voice.”
Bryant said she met Eugene in March and that the two had been boyfriend-girlfriend for the last four months. Yovanka also said that she loved Eugene and had hope for their future together.
“Rudy and I never discussed cannibalism or voodoo,” Yovanka said. “I thought he would be a good father for my children. I wish the public knew Rudy the way I did.”
Bryant said at the news conference that she and Eugene had bible studies together and watched religious programming on television. She also said they studied the Koran as well. Eugene was carrying a Bible right before he attacked Ronald Poppo and police found a Koran in his car.
Bryant’s credibility may not be high after her press conference when it comes to Eugene and drug use. After initially denying that she ever saw Eugene drugs, she quickly backtracked.
“Rudy never drank alcohol or used drugs around me,” Bryant said. “I only saw him smoke marijuana once.”
The entire press conference was devoid of much detail. The hotel where the press conference ended up being held was initially told the room was going to hold a “seminar,” CBS4’s Gio Benitez discovered.
Allred said Eugene and Bryant’s relationship didn’t end until he died from being shot during the attack on Poppo. Allred said Bryant and Eugene were in communication the day before the cannibal attack, but declined to give details about what was discussed.
Police have not released a motive for the attack on Poppo, who had been homeless for decades.
Eugene stripped off all of his clothes as he walked from Miami Beach to the mainland over the MacArthur Causeway before encountering Poppo and beginning the unprovoked, savage attack.
The assault continued for 18 minutes while drivers and cyclists streamed past. The first calls to police came in at 1:55 p.m. simply describing a “naked man.” One caller said Eugene looked like “Tarzan” swinging on a light pole. The more urgent calls came in at 2:05 p.m. describing the fight. While Miami Police have not confirmed the officer’s arrival time, a Miami Herald surveillance camera shows an officer arrived at 2:13 p.m. after several minutes of looking for the two men in the area.
Initial toxicology reports found that Eugene had recently smoked pot before the attack. But, a more in-depth toxicology screening will take upwards of two months to process.
Meanwhile, Poppo remains at Jackson Memorial Hospital facing months of treatment to rebuild his features and psychological care. The Jackson Memorial Foundation has set up a fund to assist him.
If you want to contribute, or would like more information, contact Neighbors for Neighbors at 305-597-4404.
“The man he was to me will never be forgotten,” Bryant said of Eugene. “I could always count on him to encourage me. I truly didn’t have a care in the world when I was with him…I wish the public knew Rudy the way I did.”
Allred said that Bryant has had no contact with anyone from Rudy Eugene’s family.