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Miami face-eater is identified; cause of attack is a mystery

May 29, 2012|By Matt Pearce

We now know the name of the man who tried to eat another man’s face off on a Miami causeway. What we still don’t know is why he did it.

The Miami-Dade County medical examiner has identified the attacker as Rudy Eugene, 31, according to CBS Miami.

Witnesses and police have said Eugene was naked Saturday when he attacked another naked man on the MacArthur Causeway next to the Miami Herald building, chewing up to 80% of the victim’s face off. A police officer commanded him to stop, and when Eugene didn’t, the officer shot him as many as six times.

“The guy just stood, his head up like that, with pieces of flesh in his mouth. And he growled,” Larry Vega, a witness, told WSVN.

Officials have not released the officer’s name. As of Monday, the victim, also unidentified, remained in extremely critical condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital, according to the Miami Herald.

"I wouldn't say he had [a] mental problem," but he always felt as if people were against him, Eugene’s ex-wife told Local 10; the Miami Herald identified her as Jenny Ductant. “No one was for him, everyone was against him.”

The pair divorced in 2007 when the relationship got violent, she told Local 10, and the couple had not spoken to each other in three or four years.

Eugene had had several run-ins with police over the years. Miami Beach police arrested him when he was 16 on suspicion of committing battery, a charge that was later dropped, the Herald reported. He had also been arrested four times over the years on marijuana-related charges, trespassing and vending near a school, with the last charge coming in September 2009. It was also dropped.

Police initially speculated to local media that Eugene might have been suffering from “cocaine psychosis,” saying that taking too much of the drug prompts users to take their clothes off. Or maybe, they suggested,  Eugene was high on LSD.

Both claims of possible “excited delirium,” caused by drugs, were met with skepticism.

“Two years ago, Miami New Times staff writer Gus Garcia-Roberts explored how Miami-Dade County led the nation in deaths attributed to excited delirium, which has been dismissed as junk science by the American Civil Liberties Union and families of the deceased who were diagnosed with the syndrome,” the Miami New Times noted Tuesday morning.

“It is not listed in textbooks or recognized by the American Medical Assn. or the American Psychiatric Assn.,” the New Times added.

An ER doctor at Jackson Memorial Hospital told the Herald that Eugene’s attack could have been brought on by bath salts, a drug nicknamed after the bathroom product, but no conclusive evidence has been presented to the public yet.

The mystery around the crime — as well as its sheer gruesomeness — have prompted international headlines, jokes and other general Internet obsessing over what looks an awful lot like a real-life zombie attack.

“..miami...media...still...in...denial...no...cocaine...just...flesh...and...brains...” tweeted a rather unfortunate new parody Twitter account, @TheMiamiZombie, just one example a cottage industry of Miami/zombie obsession capitalizing on the incident and running wild across the Internet over the last couple of days.

There appear to have been no parody accounts created for the victim as of yet.

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national@latimes.com

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