Ronald Poppo identified as victim of South Beach cannibal attack

3:55 PM, May 29, 2012   |    comments
2004 Miami-Dade mug shot of Ronald Poppo
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) - 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.

GRAPHIC PHOTOS: South Beach cannibal victim photos 
See Also: Police search for face eating attack witnesses

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 Miami judge was in 2006, for trespassing. His mug shot in the Miami-Dade courts system shows a grizzled man with a full gray 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 officer 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.

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