If he was upset over “family issues,” it was because of his parents’ divorce, which took place after he was an adult, Charles said.
Charles dismisses gossip that Rudy was the target of a Vodou spell.
“Nobody went to Haiti and did anything to him,” he insisted.
Though Eugene had stopped attending church regularly, he maintained his quest for spirituality. He regularly sent inspirational text messages to his friends. And on Facebook, he mentions “Zoe Life” several times — a phrase both associated with Haitian life and with born-again Christians.
His final post, on May 18, proclaimed: “ZOE LIFE IS ETERNAL!!!!!!!!!”
Friends posted tributes on his page.
“Damn, I still can’t believe it, out of all people, YOU! You have been a great friend to me, and for that you will always be missed!” wrote Meli Mel Rivera.
Ranessia Rollins posted that Eugene was at her house on Friday and kissed her cheek.
All of his friends expressed disbelief and solidarity.
Pudding Sabali said: “They’re telling me (us) that we shouldn’t have any grief for you dying. But it’s hard to not have the deepest warm feeling when it comes to you . . . just a young man misunderstood . . . God have mercy on your soul. . . .”
Understanding Ronald Poppo is harder because he lived anonymously for so long.
Ron Book said that outreach workers had been offering him services since Dec. 27, 1999. At the time, he gave his last permanent address as 150 NE 10th St., but said he had not lived there since 1970.
Poppo said he had become homeless outside of Florida, slept on Watson Island and abused alcohol.
He stayed in an emergency shelter for 141 days, during which he saw a counselor once, according to assistance program records.
Four years later, Miami police took him back to the shelter. Starting Oct. 6, 2003, Poppo stayed for 10 days, and again met once with a counselor.
Between that stay and his last encounter with outreach workers on May 24, Poppo might have spent less than a week living indoors.
Records show he stayed twice at Camillus House in 2004, on Jan. 26 and July 20, and once at the Homeless Assistance Center on Nov. 16. His last stay: Jan. 23, 2005, under a cold-weather sheltering program.
On Nov. 11, 2004, some kind of “mental crisis” brought him to Jackson’s crisis-intervention unit, but an assistance program report is unclear about whether he stayed overnight.
Outreach teams approached him three times in 2005 and 2006, but he refused help.
“During one of the contacts he became angry and started throwing rocks at the outreach staff,” Book said.
Among Miami’s 240 to 260 chronic homeless people, “sometimes after three, 10, 30 attempts, we get a guy or woman to come in,” Book said. “There are people for different reasons, it takes them that long, maybe never, to get off the streets.”
Details of Poppo’s life have been surfacing in bits since the assault. The 1964 graduate of New York’s elite Stuyvesant High School grew up in Brooklyn, according to long-lost sister Antoinette Poppo.
Neither she nor Poppo’s two brothers had seen him in more than 30 years, she said, and none of them plans a trip to Miami. Two siblings live in New York, another in California.