The girlfriend of a naked man who chewed off a large part of a homeless man's face in Miami, Florida has said she believed he was either drugged or under the influence of voodoo curse when he carried out the gruesome attack.
Rudy Eugene was shot dead by police after he was seen attacking 65-year-old Ronald Poppo, who was also naked, off the city's MacArthur Causeway.
Poppo is currently in a critical condition in hospital, and 31-year-old Eugene has become known as the "Miami Zombie."
Ronald Poppo (right) and Rudy Eugene, left
However, Eugene's on-off girlfriend, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the Miami Herald that Eugene was actually a sweet, well-mannered partner, who had kissed her goodbye just hours before he was seen savagely attacking Poppo.
"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 attack perhaps account for his girlfriend's belief that her boyfriend was either drugged or cursed.
An eyewitness told WSVN-Fox 7 that he saw a man biting the 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."
After the violence Armando Aguilar of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police told NBC 6: "Seventy-five to 80% of [Poppo's] face was missing, and he [the attacker] was actually swallowing pieces of the man's face."
The horrific attack left Poppo with his head almost completely devoid of skin and his nose and left eyeball missing. The 65-year-old is currently being treated the city's Jackson Memorial Hospital.
However, an anonymous hospital worker told Courthouse News Service that the homeless man is in a "stable condition" in the Intensive Care Unit and "will recover."
News website Radar has reported Poppo will undergo facial reconstruction, with the costs - estimated to be as much as $200,000 - to be paid for by his local county.
His attacker, Eugene, is from Haiti, where more than 90% of the people are said to practice voodoo. His girlfriend, who is not Haitian, said she hadn't believed in voodoo "until now."
"I don't know how else to explain the attack" she told the Miami Herald.
She told the newspaper he was an extremely religious man and would preach to friends and family, carrying his Bible everywhere he went.
On the day of the attack Eugene left her apartment at 5.30am, clutching his Bible.
The last contact she had with Eugene was an hour later when he called to tell her his car had broken down and that he would be home "a bit late."
However she hadn't heard from him all day and was becoming increasingly worried by the time she switched on the evening news on Saturday.
When she saw reports that a man had been shot dead for 'eating' a man's face off the MacArthur Causeway she said her reaction was like any other viewer's:
"I thought to myself, ‘Oh my God, that’s crazy,’" she told the Miami Herald. “I didn’t know that it was Rudy.”
She said she had already begun to feel uneasy over Eugene's whereabouts but only received the news from one of Eugene's relatives at 11am on Monday.
She told the Herald she was "hysterical" and remembers repeatedly saying “that’s not Rudy, that’s not Rudy" out loud.
Police say Eugene may have been suffering from a drug-induced mania, which causes the body to heat up, causing some users to strip off, according to the Miami Herald.
Armando Aguilar of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police suggested the drug may have been a new form of LSD.
There has also been speculation that Eugene was taking a 'bath-salt' mixture made with mephedrone, which may have caused him to hallucinate.
MORE ON BATH SALTS:
Last year, America's Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) banned three chemicals commonly used to make bath salts: mephedrone, MDPV, and methylone, reports Reuters.
For more information on the banned substance click here
However Eugene's girlfriend, who had been dating the 31-year-old on and off for five years, told the Miami Herald that he had only ever smoked Marijuana and had even wanted to quit that.
The only issues they ever as a couple had were "communication problems" she told the newspaper.
However this seems to contradict Eugene's previous history and a testimony by his ex-wife.
The woman, named by the Miami Herald as Jenny Ductant, said: "I wouldn't say he had [a] mental problem but he always felt like people was against him... No one was for him, everyone was against him."
She claimed his increasing violence had led to their divorce in 2007, adding: "That's why I left."
Court records show Eugene had been arrested eight times since the age of 16, once for a battery charge, which was later dropped.
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