Bath Salts Ruled Out as Cause Behind "Miami Cannibal" Attack, Motivation Remains a Mystery

rudy eugene ronald poppo
Eugene came to prominence when, on May 26, the 31-year-old man stripped off his clothes and attacked 65-year-old Ronald Poppo alongside a freeway in Miami. REUTERS

Toxicology results on Rudy Eugene released yesterday revealed that the only substance in the man's system was marijuana, casting a mystery over the young man's motivations for the cannibalistic attack of another man.

On May 26, Eugene stripped off his clothes and attacked 65-year-old Ronald Poppo alongside a freeway in Miami. He pinned down his victim and ripped off 50 to 70 percent of the flesh from Poppo's face with his teeth. Repeated pleas from police officers to stop went unheeded, with Eugene reportedly growling at them, until he was shot to death.

Eugene was arrested eight times since the age of 18, four times on charges related to marijuana, and had allegedly threatened to murder his mother. He had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, but authorities are unsure whether he ever sought treatment.

But friends are nonetheless surprised, as he had apparently been reforming his life. He was participating in bible study, reading the Koran, and told friends that he was attempting to stop smoking marijuana. His girlfriend says that she believes that the cause of his behavior lies in something supernatural, with a curse put over him.

It was believed that Eugene had ingested the synthetic drug "bath salts" prior to his attack, but the toxicology results indicate otherwise. His system was also tested for cocaine, LSD, ecstasy, methamphetamine, PCP, angel dust, heroin, oxycodone, Xanax, synthetic marijuana, and other similar drugs. All came back negative.

Dr. Bruce Goldberger, professor and Director of Toxicology at the University of Florida, was convinced that there was something else in Eugene's system on the day of the attack, saying that marijuana alone was not likely to provoke an event like that. But he also is certain that the medical examiner's office in Miami was very thorough, citing the natural limitations of toxicology at being unable to trace every possible substance.

Meanwhile, in somewhat uplifting news, Poppo is reportedly doing well. He has lost an eye and his nose, and faces a long bout of reconstructive surgeries.

The Jackson Memorial Foundation has started a fund to help pay for Poppo's recovery, which includes staged reconstruction, long rehabilitative treatment, and psychologic assistance.

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