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Homeless man whose face was eaten away in cannibal attack recovering

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 22nd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

It was a horrifying ordeal that few think would actually occur in real life. Homeless man Ron Poppo had his face eaten away in a violent cannibal attack by 31-year-old Rudy Eugene before police were able to shoot and kill his attacker last year. Poppo, while blind following the attack, has recovered nicely and has taught himself how to play the guitar in the meantime.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Spending much of the past year recuperating at the Jackson Memorial Perdue Medical Center, which is a long-term care facility in Cutler Bay.

"I think he wants the world to know that he's not traumatized by this, that he's happy and grateful," Dr. Urmen Desai, Poppo's plastic surgeon at Jackson Memorial Hospital says.

Poppo first came to the world's knowledge as a craggy, sunburned, bearded man in a photo taken before he was attacked on Miami Beach's MacArthur Causeway last May 26.

Poppo now weighs up to 200 pounds and spends most of his day strumming his guitar, which he played during his youth.

Current photos of Poppo are horrifying - but he manages a smile anyway. Both eyes eaten away, there are merely sockets where his eyes once were. His nose is shown bitten off. 

He's a wonderful person," Poppo's nursing assistant, Patricia Copalko, who sees him daily says. "I couldn't ask for a better patient."

While he rarely ventures outside his room, Poppo follows Miami Heat games avidly, she says. Hospital staff said he can remain in the Miami nursing facility "indefinitely." He has declined additional reconstructive surgery and is learning to adjust to his blindness.

Once a student at the prestigious Stuyvesant High School in New York, Poppo reportedly became homeless after falling into drugs.

Poppo's attacker, Rudy Eugene, 31, managed to gnaw off half of Poppo's face before police shot and killed him. Marijuana was found in Eugene's system. Police suspect other new, undetectable drugs were also present.

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