Thursday, 29 Jul 2021

Homeless man’s face was eaten by ‘zombie’ cannibal – and it was caught on camera

The horrific story of a homeless man whose face was eaten by a "zombie" cannibal shocked the world when the appalling attack was captured on camera.

Headlines told of how Ronald Poppo lost his left eye, nose and most of the surrounding skin when a naked man attacked him for no apparent reason.

But others had to witness the gruesome assault first-hand, including the Florida police officer who shot and killed 31-year-old Rudy Eugene.

Terrified witnesses had seen the naked Eugene tear into Mr Poppo with his teeth, leaving the rough sleeper blind in the 2012 attack.

Callers reported seeing Eugene swinging from a lamp post minutes before next to a motorway in Miami.

Eugene was given the grim monikers the "Miami Zombie" and the "Causeway Cannibal" as images of his gruesome attack emerged.

A video posted online by the hospital caring for Mr Poppo showed the aftermath of his horrific injuries nearly a year later.

Mr Poppo had spent nearly a month in hospital after the attack, before moving to a long-term care facility.

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Yet Mr Poppo, who was left blind, did not blame Eugene for what happened.

During his recovery, he strummed a guitar, and joked with his nurses while keeping his face uncovered to address the cameras of the world's media.

Adolfa Sigue, nurse manager at the Jackson Memorial Perdue Medical Centre, where he now lives, said: "The only thing that he alwaystells me is that, 'I'm sure that that man had a bad day that day'."

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Mr Poppo, then 66, still required daily medical care for his wounds, and he was working with occupational therapists and specialists from the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind to learn how to adjust to his blindness.

He had not allowed any visitors to see him, other than his doctors, nurses and therapists.

"People in my predicament need to be helped out, and I'm sure there's other people also that have the same type of predicament. I thank the outpouring of people contributing, I'll always be grateful for that," he said in the brief video.

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His doctors at Jackson Memorial Hospital and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine praised him for his resilience.

Medics said he could still use his own tissues or prosthetics to replace his nose or eye, but he is not interested in more facial reconstruction.

Dr Wrood Kassira, a plastic surgeon, said: "There's still work that can be done, but he's more than happy with how he is now, and he's quite grateful."

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Ms Sigue said he does not answer the telephone in his room and has not wanted to talk with relatives other than a sister, who calls the nurse's mobile phone to get through.

Mr Poppo's caretakers described him as a charming, cooperative patient who enjoys listening to Miami Heat basketball games on the radio.

He can stay at the medical centre indefinitely. His care was covered by Medicaid, and a Jackson Memorial Foundation fund had raised $100,000 (£66,000) for his medical expenses.

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