Rudy Eugene (left) and victim Ronald Poppo (Credit: CBS/Miami-Dade Police Dept.)
MIAMI, Florida (CBS4) - The best friends of the man police say committed a cannibal-style attack on the MacArthur Causeway are hoping the police investigation reveals what caused Rudy Eugene to snap.
Eugene's friend Bobby told our news partners CBS 4 News exclusively he knew his friend had a secret, but he died before finding out what it was.
"He said he had something that he wanted to tell us, but he didn't know that we would understand," Bobby said. "I don't know what it was."
GRAPHIC PHOTOS: South Beach cannibal victim photos
Bobby and his friend Joe have known Eugene since middle school. More than 15 years later, they say the images of their friend lying naked after chewing the face off a stranger just don't line up with the man they know.
"I saw the video, and that's not Rudy," Bobby said. "Physically, it was Rudy. But mentally, that was not Rudy."
"I'm still in denial that he's gone," Joe said. "I can't believe that's him. I can't believe what I heard."
Eugene's friends say he wasn't a drinker or a drug addict. In fact, they say when the saw him last on the Thursday before his death, Eugene made a promise.
"His last words to me were that he wanted to get his life right and that he wanted to get closer to God," Bobby said. "And he wanted to stop smoking pot. That's it."
Miami Police believe the 31-year-old was under the influence of something much more powerful than marijuana the day he walked on the MacArthur Causeway, shedding his clothes along the way.
Authorities believe LSD, or possibly a designer drug known as "bath salts" may have been in Eugene's system when he chewed the face of his victim, Ronald Poppo.
His friends don't doubt that theory, but they don't think Eugene was responsible.
"It had to be some sort of drug that somebody must have slipped on him, because Rudy wouldn't so much as pop a Tylenol pill," Bobby said.
Until they get answers, all they're left with are memories and "what ifs?"
"If I was there, I guarantee you it wouldn't have happened," Bobby said adamantly. "He would have made it home safe, slept it off, would have gotten back up and we wouldn't have been here right now."
Poppo is still fighting for his life at Jackson Memorial Hospital. The Jackson Memorial Foundation has set up a fund to assist him.
If you want to contribute, or would like more information, contact Neighbors for Neighbors at 305-597-4404.
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