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Miami cannibal victim recounts brutal attack for first time

Jackson Memorial Hospital/Getty Images

In this handout image provided by Jackson Memorial Hospital, cannibal attack victim Ronald Poppo, 65, shows the extent of his injuries while still in the hospital on June 12, 2012, in Miami, Florida.

The 65-year-old homeless man whose face was viciously chewed off by a naked man in Florida can be heard speaking for the first time since he was assaulted by the so-called “Miami Zombie” in May.  

“He attacked me,” Ronald Poppo told police of Rudy Eugene, in a recording obtained by CBS Miami. “He just ripped me to ribbons. He chewed up my face. He plucked out my eyes. Basically, that’s all there is to say about it.”

Doctors say Poppo lost nearly 80 percent of his face, including his nose, was blinded in the attack and also was inadvertently shot by police in the chest.

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“He mashed my face into the sidewalk,” Poppo said. “My face is all bent and mashed up. My eyes, my eyes got plucked out. He was strangling me in wrestling holds at the same time he was plucking my eyes out.”

After several surgeries at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Poppo was transferred to Purdue Medical Center, a long-term care facility also in Miami. A fund set up to help cover Poppo’s health care costs raised more than $100,000. He is now awake and alert.

The attack happened the afternoon of May 26 when Eugene, not wearing any clothes, approached Poppo near the highway. That’s when police say Eugene started chewing off Poppo’s face and only stopped when officers shot and killed him.

The 18-minute attack was captured by a security camera on the building that houses the Miami Herald.

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Miami-Dade Police Dept.

This undated booking file photo made available by the Miami-Dade Police Dept. shows Ronald Poppo before he was attacked.

“For a very short amount of time, I thought he was a good guy,” Poppo said. “But he just went and turned berserk. He apparently didn’t’ have a good day at the beach, and he, he was coming back. And I guess he took it out, took it out on me or something. I don’t know.”

Poppo’s statements were recorded during a July 19 interview with Miami homicide Det. Sgt. Altarr Williams and Det. Frankie Sanchez.

Sgt. Williams asked Poppo what Eugene was saying when he attacked him.

“’You, me, buddy, and nobody else here,’” Poppo recalled. “’I’m gonna – gonna kill you,’ Or something like that.”

“He just started to scream and was talking kind of funny talk for a while too,” Poppo said. “He must have been souped up on something.”

A man was shot to death in Miami after eating the face of his still-living victim. WTVJ-TV's Diana Gonzalez reports.

An autopsy of Eugene revealed no human flesh in his stomach but a number of unidentified undigested pills were present. Although police had initially speculated that the street drug “bath salts” may have been involved, preliminary toxicology reports were positive only for marijuana.

Both the cause and motive for Eugene’s bizarre behavior remain unknown.

Poppo said Eugene did not have any type of weapon. He also said he did not recall ever meeting or seeing Eugene before the day of the attack.

The police investigation revealed that Eugene had an extensive criminal history, having been arrested eight times since the age of 16.

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