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The US and the rest of the world was shocked in May by reports of a horrific ‘cannibal’ attack on a homeless Ronald Poppo in Miami Florida. Police found attacker Rudy Eugene naked and eating chunks of flesh from the victim’s face.
The story spread widely on the internet. Police reports that the assailant refused to halt the attack after being shot at by police led many commentators to compare it to a real-life zombie attack. Initial reports suggested that Eugene’s actions might have been a result of ingesting ‘bath salts’, yet a later autopsy showed no traces of anything stronger than cannabis.
Legal documents reveal that Poppo, 65, now in recovery at Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital, had been homeless for up to four decades, with police records showing he was arrested for vagrancy in 1983.
Despite the extent of his injuries (50 per cent of his face was missing after the attack and he has lost the vision in one eye), doctors report that he is upbeat and pragmatic about the attack. His positive attitude throughout treatment has been attributed to a survival instinct developed during his time on the streets.
Hospital staffs have sent up a fund for donations to cover his medical bills, which has raised $15,000 so far. Although responding well to treatment, Poppo will need further surgery and a number of skin grafts before recovery is complete. During his stay, social workers will also be working with him to help address his chronic homelessness.