New evidence has come to light that a homeless advocate organization tried to reach out to Ronald Poppo (pictured), the 65-year-old victim whose face was savagely cannibalized by a crazed Rudy Eugene on May 26, before he was actually attacked, reports The Daily Beast.
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According to the head of the Miami Dade’s Homeless Trust, Ronald Book, his organization first encountered Poppo when he was 52 years old. The group offered Poppo a bed, medical care, job referrals, and social work, but it wasn’t until 2004 that he accepted the services. Unfortunately, soon after, Poppo mysteriously disappeared.
Watch video of Ronald Poppo’s life here:
Poppo fits the profile of someone who is chronically homeless, according to Book. The college-educated man, who once aspired to become president of the United States, happens to be one of 270 such local cases of people who are continuously homeless and who do not take advantage of the outreach opportunities that could take them off the streets.
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In April, a Jungle Island cafe owner complained about a homeless man who had planted himself in a stairwell near his business and was scaring off his patrons. Giancarlo Venturini and his colleague Jairo Mesa, who are part of a team of 25 outreach workers from Homeless Trust, responded to the cafe owner’s call.
Venturini and Mesa reportedly found Poppo, who was severely intoxicated, hiding in a stairwell. He appeared to be very angry. The outreach team reportedly offered Poppo comforting amenities, such as a bed, a shower facility, and medical assistance, but Poppo, who allegedly snapped at the men who were trying to help him, “Death to both of you!” he reportedly shouted. “He was, like, putting a gypsy curse on us,” Venturini recalled. “He was yelling at the top of his lungs.”
Poppo allegedly even attempted to spit on the men, but he was so dehydrated from the liquor he consumed that he failed to produce spit and instead reportedly shouted “F**k you” repeatedly. He then chose to leave the premises rather than accompany the men.
Mesa and Venturini then moved Poppo’s belongings — some food, water, tattered rags for cleansing himself, and a radio — from the establishment and put them into a dumpster. A few days later, Poppo reportedly returned, pulling all of his belongings from the dumpster and setting up house in the same spot near the cafe.
The Homeless Trust men once again returned to dispose of Poppo’s camp setting, but this go-round, they hauled everything away so that he could not set up his camp and disturb the cafe patrons again.
One week later, Mesa and Venturini visited the spot, where Poppo had originally set up camp, but this time, Poppo had moved to the second floor of the stairwell. Instead of being greeted by an angry drunkard like last time, the city workers reportedly encountered a gentle man, who was very well-spoken and polite. Poppo even remembered Mesa.
The men noticed Poppo’s legs appeared to be infected, discolored, and swollen. The scabs from the countless insect bites he had received from being homeless were scabbed over. The men thought he was in dire need of peroxide for his scabs. Once again, the men told Poppo that he had been trespassing and needed to leave. While it was raining and the wind blew, Poppo is said to have politely agreed to leave the premises and opted to walk.
On May 24, two days before the vicious attack on Poppo, Mesa and Venturini spotted him walking toward the same stairwell around 9:30 p.m. Poppo was dressed in the same gray jacket and was carrying a flattened cardboard box. The men asked a police officer to accompany them. Instead, Poppo hightailed it to a bus depot, where he figured he could not be accused of trespassing.
When Poppo spotted the familiar faces from the Homeless Trust, he allegedly cursed at them vilely. He reportedly yelled, “Go bother those motherf**kers down there, man!” He pointed down the causeway and used a racial epithet. “Down there!”
Poppo was given a written warning about trespassing by the officer. Poppo reportedly took the ticket, grabbed his flattened cardboard, and walked away into the night.
The next time the men heard about Poppo was when news reports announced that his face had been eaten away by a crazed Eugene.
Poppo’s once-favorite spot on the stairwell has now been taken over by another homeless man named Ricky Davies, who had not heard about the attack on Poppo and who held up a cardboard sign that read, “Please help me, I need work.”