The girlfriend of Rudy Eugene, dubbed the Miami Zombie following a face-eating attack on a homeless man, says there is no way he could have hurt someone.
She believed he was either unknowingly drugged or someone put a Voodoo curse on him, the Miami Herald reported.
Eugene chewed off 75 per cent of 65-year-old Ronald Poppo's face, who was in a critical condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital. He had his nose, mouth and eyes torn off during the attack.
Eugene's girlfriend, who did not want to be named, spoke to the Miami Herald about the last time she saw Eugene.
She said he woke up at 5.30am on the day of the attack to say he was going to meet with a "homeboy", which she found strange.
He kissed her and said I love you, before leaving.
"I told him be safe and I love you too. When he walked out the door I closed it, locked it and went back to sleep," she said.
An hour later, Eugene called her cell phone.
"He called me and told me his car broke down. Then he said, I'll be home, but I'm going to be a little late. The he said, I'm going to call you right back."
That was the last time she heard from him.
Around midday that day, she said she felt uneasy and went out to look for him.
"I was worried. I couldn't do anything. I just kept calling the phone," she said. "I left messages saying, 'Rudy, call me, I'm really worried.'"
By the evening, she still had not heard from him. She turned on the TV and saw that police had shot dead a nude man who had been found with pieces of flesh hanging from his teeth.
"I thought to myself, 'Oh my God, that's crazy,' she said. "I didn't know that it was Rudy."
She later learned it was Eugene. "That's not Rudy, that's not Rudy," she said in shock.
The "face-eater," as the media was calling him, was not the man she knew. He was sweet and well-mannered, she said.
He smoked marijuana often, but didn't use stronger recreational drugs and refused to take over-the-counter medication, she said.
Eugene's girlfriend has her own explanation for what happened. She believes he was drugged unknowingly or it was supernatural.
"I don't know how else to explain this," she said.
"Something happened out of the ordinary that day. I don't want him to be labelled the Miami Zombie."
She said Eugene carried his Bible everywhere and was never violent around her.
But according to police records, Eugene became violent at least once in his past and was arrested on battery charges.
In 2004, he threatened his mother, Ruth Charles, and smashed furniture during a domestic dispute.
Charles has defended her dead son, saying the man who ate Poppo's face was not the man she knew.
"I don't know what they injected in him to turn him into the person who did what he did," she said.
"Everybody says that he was a zombie, but I know he's not a zombie; he's my son," she said.
A friend of Eugene's, Joe Aurelus, told The Herald that he had been troubled in recent years.
He said Eugene told him he wanted to stop smoking pot, and that friends were texting Eugene Bible verses.
"He was going through a lot with his family," Aurelus said, and jumping from job to job.
"Rudy was battling the devil."
- © Fairfax NZ News