The Miami Herald

No bath salts detected: Causeway attacker Rudy Eugene had only pot in his system, medical examiner reports

Rudy Eugene, the man who chewed off a homeless man’s face on the MacArthur Causeway and was shot to death by Miami police, had no drugs in his system other than marijuana, the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s office said Wednesday.

On May 26, Eugene stripped off his clothes along the causeway from Miami Beach before attacking 65-year-old Ronald Poppo in a ghoulish, drawn-out assault in plain view on a city sidewalk captured by a Miami Herald security camera. Eugene was shot by a police officer who found him chewing chunks off Poppo’s face.

The bizarre details of the attack prompted speculation that the 31-year-old attacker was under the influence of harder drugs. Soon after the incident, for example, the head of the Miami police union publicly speculated that Eugene was on “bath salts,” synthetic stimulants that have been blamed for seemingly psychotic episodes in other cases around the country.

But the medical examiner — after seeking help from an outside forensic toxicology lab — could find no evidence of the common components of “bath salts” in Eugene’s system. Nor did the lab find evidence of synthetic marijuana or LSD.

The medical examiner also found that Eugene had not ingested cocaine, heroin, PCP, oxycodone, amphetamines or any other known street drug other than marijuana — a drug not known for sparking violence.

“Within the limits of current technology by both laboratories, marijuana is the only drug identified in the body of Mr. Rudy Eugene,” the medical examiner’s office said in a press release.

The autopsy initially found evidence of a substance in Eugene’s stomach that appeared to be undigested pills, law enforcement sources told The Herald. But the medical examiner’s press release Wednesday did not address what that substance may have been.

The toxicology findings lend further mystery to Eugene’s unprompted attack on Poppo, the homeless man Eugene found dozing in the shade of the Metromover train tracks before attacking him. Eugene, who worked at a car wash, had a record of minor, nonviolent drug offenses, though he was accused of threatening his mother in a domestic dispute in 2004.

Rikkia Cross, Eugene’s on-again off-again girlfriend, is now convinced that Eugene’s actions are the result of something “supernatural” that afflicted him.

“Somebody did something to him, somebody put something on him. I know for sure that wasn’t Rudy,” Cross said on Wednesday.

Cross last saw Eugene in the early morning hours of May 26, more than eight hours before the attack on the causeway. At about 5:30 a.m., Eugene woke Cross and told her that he was meeting a friend.

Cross said Eugene was acting odd that morning, rummaging through closets. He kissed her goodbye and walked out of their Broward County apartment holding his Bible.

Eugene ended up on Miami Beach — which was hosting Urban Beach Week — where his car apparently broke down. But it’s still unclear what Eugene was doing on the beach in the hours before the attack.

Shortly before 2 p.m. on May 26, motorists began calling police reporting a naked man walking down the road and hanging off light posts. Police later found torn Bible pages strewn along the causeway.

Then Eugene encountered Poppo; Eugene rolled the homeless man onto the sidewalk, pummeling Poppo and removing his pants before gnawing on his face, security footage shows. The entire attack lasted about 18 minutes.

Poppo is recovering at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Miami Herald staff writer David Ovalle contributed to this report.




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