“I am shocked by the situation. I don’t know what to say about it, how to interpret it, how to express it,’’ said Fredric Christian, Eugene’s close friend since they were teens. “The only thing I know for sure is Rudy was something other than this monster people talk about.’’
But there are others who believe Eugene was depressed or struggling within.
“Drugs can open the gateway to the demons inside of you. Whatever he took open[ed] that gateway and a demon came out,’’ said Joe Aurelus, a friend of Eugene’s since they attended church together as children. “Whatever he was fighting, it came out. I believe in spiritual battles. I believe in demons.
“Rudy was fighting a demon that day and he lost.”
Eugene was born Feb. 4, 1981, at Jackson Memorial Hospital. His parents, Ruth Charles and Pellisier Funeus, both Haitian immigrants, divorced months before his birth. Eugene would never meet his father, who died when he was 6, though he would bitterly search for details in later years.
His mother remembers gazing into his tiny face, right after he was born, and thinking, “ ‘That’s a handsome boy.’ He had a lot of hair and his eyes were so alert.”
She worked exhausting hours assembling shoes at a Doral factory, earning just enough to care for her son and send a few dollars home to Haiti. Originally from Cap Haitien, a port city at the northern end of the island, Charles was the daughter of farmers.
“Where I came from, we were poor,’’ said Charles, who married Melimon Charles in 1985 and had two more sons, Thompson and Marckenson. “Sometimes my mom couldn’t buy sugar to put in the tea.’’
But it was that unforgettable poverty that drove Charles to work hard and demand the same of her sons, a pressure that sometimes would spark fights.
As a young boy, Eugene had a huge appetite, a talent for drawing family portraits and a fondness for singing Yes, Jesus Loves Me.
Most Sundays, he attended with his family Bethel Evangelical Baptist Church in Miami — made up of a predominantly Haitian congregation — dressed in a freshly pressed shirt, slacks and shiny dress shoes.
Charles presented her boys with a Bible when they turned 8 and she believed they were old enough to understand its significance. When she handed the Bible to her oldest son, she told him, “This is your life. Anything you want to know about life, go there.”
By high school, though, Eugene had stopped going to church regularly. He kept reading the Bible. And he clung to one tradition: Every night, he would get down on his knees and pray, according to friends and family.
He loved football, playing defensive end in middle and high school. He rough-housed with his brothers, copying wrestling moves they’d seen on television. “He would pick me up and throw me on the bed,” his brother Marckenson, now 25, remembered. “He would act like I knocked him out to make me feel good.”
But when Eugene was in the ninth or 10th grade , his world was shaken to the core. His mother told him that her husband, Melimon Charles, the man he had called “Daddy” since he was 2, was not his biological father. And he would later learn the father he’d never known was dead.