Earlier this year, a bizarre face-eating attack on a man in Miami was the first of a tongue-in-cheek “Year of the Zombie”. But for victim Ronald Poppo, having his face eaten off and eyeballs plucked out wasn’t anything at all to joke about. For the first time, Mr. Poppo speaks publicly about the brutal experience.
“He attacked me,” Poppo said of Rudy Eugene. “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.”
Poppo said he does not understand why Eugene attacked him,
“For a very short amount of time I thought he was a good guy,” Poppo said. “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.”
Poppo’s statements were made and recorded during a July 19 interview with Miami homicide Det. Sgt. Altarr Williams and Det. Frankie Sanchez.
CBS4 News obtained a copy of the taped interview on Wednesday.
Sgt. Williams asked Poppo what Eugene was saying when he attacked him.
“’You, me, buddy, and nobody else here,’” Poppo recalled. “’I’m gonna — gonna kill you.’ Or something like that, I guess.”
“Did he say why?” Williams inquired.
“No, he just started to scream,” Poppo explained. “And was talking kind of funny talk for a while too.”
“What do you mean by funny talk?” Williams asked.
“That I was gonna die. And he was gonna die,” Poppo said. “He must have been souped up on something.”
During another part of the interview, Poppo said Eugene expressed frustration at not being able to “score” on Miami Beach.
“He didn’t like the Beach,” Poppo said. “He said he wasn’t scoring there. He went to the Beach to score or something.”
Although he seemed at peace with what happened to him, certain details of the attack were still vivid in Poppo’s mind.
“He mashed my face into the sidewalk,” he said. “My face is all bent and mashed up. My eyes, my eyes got plucked out. He was strangling me in wrestling holds at the same time he was plucking my eyes out.”
In a subsequent interview, Poppo told detectives that Rudy Eugene blamed Poppo for stealing his bible. Pieces of Eugene’s bible were found scattered along the causeway. Poppo said he never saw Eugene with a bible and denied taking it.
“Did Mr. Eugene have anything in his hands?” Williams asked.
“No.” Poppo said, his New York accent still evident despite decades of homelessness and living on the streets of Miami. “Mr. Eugene did not have any type of weapon. He did not use any weapon on me. He basically was using brute force.”
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