While the story of Rudy Eugene–the 31-year old Miami man who devoured most of a homeless man’s face over Memorial Day weekend–has garnered lots of attention in the press with labels of cannibal and “zombie”, the police have a very different side to the story, one they believe is tied to a drug that’s been showing up a lot in the homeless community.
“Bath salts“–as they’re known for their crystalized appearance–are sold in some gas stations and online under euphoric-sounding names like “Ivory Wave”, “Vanilla Sky”, and “Cloud 9”. For some people, the effects of the drug reportedly range from a deep psychosis to hallucinations to a violent rage in which they feel untouchable. Most experience a sharp increase in body temperature, making them feel as though their insides are baking; these people usually remove their clothing, which is a tipoff to police.
Rudy Eugene displayed all of those traits, leading police to believe he was under the influence of the drug when he attacked 65-year old Ronald Poppo on a Miami causeway. Officers ordered him to back off, but he refused, becoming agitated and advancing on them while growling with a piece of flesh dangling from his mouth. They shot several rounds before taking him down.
Because so many people have displayed similar actions while high on bath salts, police believe it’s responsible for a wave of strange behavior in Miami recently, including a homeless man named Brandon DeLeon. DeLeon walked into a restaurant on Saturday night where two police officers were eating and began yelling obscenities at them. When he couldn’t be calmed down they took him into custody, where he allegedly banged his head against the bars of the cell, growled, and tried to bite one officer’s hand off.
The arresting officers issued a safety bulletin about the incident, warning their peers about future patrols:
“It was later discovered DeLeon had taken a synthetic drug named Cloud 9. This bears resemblance to the incident that occurred in the City of Miami last week when a male ate another man’s face. Please be careful when dealing with our homeless population during your patrols.”
DeLeon also had alcohol in his system; it is not known if the combination of bath salts and alcohol is what causes the violent reactions. DeLeon later told a judge he had no recollection of the events.