The mother of the man who chewed off 75 percent of a homeless man's face in a harrowing cannibal attack says her son was a good kid and no zombie.
I knew my son, Rudy Eugene's mother, Ruth Charles, told ABC affiliate WPLG in Miami. Rudy will never, never do something like that.
Rudy Eugene, 31, was thought to be under the influence of a bath salts drug when he encountered 65-year-old Ronald Poppo and attacked him.
In an 18-minute brutal encounter, Eugene punched and straddled the homeless man and proceeding to eat his face, police say.
Eugene's mother believes her son was drugged and dumped on the causeway near Poppo, and he felt threatened by him, she told WPLG.
When you are awake you are like a confused patient, said Charles. Whoever you see, you go and fight.
While Charles' denies her son's violent nature, she had an encounter with him herself. In 2004, her husband called police after Eugene threatened to kill her, WPLG reported.
Yet Charles stands by her words that her son was not angry, violent or mentally ill. She wishes he had been Tasered instead of shot dead by police. I saw what happened on TV and I started crying, she told CNN affiliate WFOR.
Eugene's girlfriend, who did not wish to be identified, expressed similar sentiments. She said he was a religious man who did not abuse drugs.
That was his body but not his spirit, she added.
Eugene's brother said he did not seem angry on Saturday morning when he left his girlfriend's Miami Gardens home about 5 a.m.
He seemed pretty calm, what she said. He woke her up to tell her, I'm going to leave now. I'm going to go see one of my friends.' (He) gave her a kiss, said, 'I love you,' and he left, his brother said.
Meanwhile, the cannibal attack victim, Ronald Poppo, remains at Jackson Memorial Hospital in critical condition.
Doctors are struggling to keep his face from getting infected, which poses a greater threat to his condition that the injuries themselves, the Associated Press reported Wednesday evening.
The rebuilding of Poppo's face will happen in stages, according to doctors who are working to keep the area clean and salvage viable tissue, according to the AP. The next stage of the process is to determine a plan for skin grafts. Doctors say they must not rush into the operating room; intricate planning needs to be carried out first.
To keep the wounds clean, doctors use grafts of the patient's skin, cadaver skin or synthetic skin to cover the exposed bone or cartilage, Dr. Blane Shatkin said. The coverage will act like a dressing, protecting the wound as it heals.
Poppo will also work with a physiologist in order to be able to participate with the decision-making process for his surgery. I think the patient has to be able to cope with the injury and the trauma and needs to figure out what has happened. It often takes them weeks to understand what has happened, Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, a surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, told the AP.