Ronald Poppo spent decades living on the streets of Miami.
For about a year, recently, the daughter he may never have known lived across the county line, in Broward.
The New York Daily News reported Friday that Janice Poppo DiBello lives in New Jersey, where reporters approached her on Thursday.
DiBello, a 44-year-old information technology analyst, was stunned by the news that her 65-year-old father was the victim of a bizarre attack in Miami on Saturday during which 31-year-old Rudy Eugene gnawed off Poppo’s face, the News reported.
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“I’m really upset because I haven’t met my father,” DiBello said. “Since I was 2 years old, him and my mom got divorced and there was no — like how normal divorces are, where you see your father. Nobody ever heard anything from him, so I’ve never met him.
“I didn’t know if he was alive or dead.”
Poppo remains in critical condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Public records show that DiBello lived in an apartment in the 300 block of Southwest 85th Terrace in Pembroke Pines for the first five months of 2008. It’s not clear why she and husband, Mike DiBello, were living there.
The News reported that Ronald Poppo, a Brooklynite, dropped out of college in late 1966, two years after he graduated from New York’s prestigious Stuyvesant High School and two years before his daughter’s birth to a woman now called Theresa Chesler.
“I have nothing to say,” Chesler told a News reporter. “We were divorced, probably in 1970. And nobody’s heard from him since then.”
Poppo’s daughter told the News that she tried tracking her father down about 15 years ago, unsuccessfully.
“Nothing ever came up, so I thought he was dead,” she said.
Poppo apparently was living on the streets of Miami at that time, where homeless outreach workers repeatedly offered help that he rejected.
A high-school classmate of Poppo’s told The Miami Herald that he too tried to find him, in 2003, but the search dead-ended.
Mike DiBello told the News that his wife doesn’t remember ever seeing her biological father. She was raised by her mother’s second husband.
“Her mother and [Poppo], things just didn’t work out,” Mike DiBello told the News. “It was the ’60s, I guess. . . . and free love and all that good stuff. And then they went their own ways.”