"Homicide By Neglect": Former Model "Eaten Alive" By Scabies At Nursing Home

May 02, 2018
By: Catherine Townsend

Rebecca Zeni

Photo by: KARE 11

KARE 11

LAFAYETTE, GA – A former model who served her country in World War II was left to be “eaten alive” by scabies at a nursing home that was never inspected by state health officials, according to a new report.

Rebecca Zeni died in 2015 after suffering from “septicemia due to crusted scabies” at the Shepherds Hill Nursing Home in LaFayette, KARE 11 reported. She was 93 years old.

Zeni’s family is now suing Pruitt Health, which runs the nursing home, for neglect.

State health officials were repeatedly informed about a scabies outbreak at the nursing home, according to the lawsuit. However they allegedly failed to inspect the facility.

Images of Zeni before her death show horrific signs of the mites' infestation — including one of her hands, which had turned almost completely black. A forensic pathologist who reviewed the case for KARE 11 said that it appeared that millions of parasitic mites essentially ate Zeni alive over a long period of time.

The lawsuit claims that staff knew about the scabies infection for years, but failed to do anything about it. “There was a conversation at this nursing home with a healthcare provider about being careful about touching Ms. Zeni’s hand for fear that it might fall off her body,” claims attorney Stephen Chance.

Forensic pathologist Dr. Kris Sperry who reviewed the autopsy report on Zeni, said, “This is one of the most horrendous things I’ve ever seen in my career as a forensic pathologist.” He went on to characterize Zeni’s demise as “a homicide by neglect.”

During World War II, Zeni served her country by working in the Norfolk, Virginia naval yards. Later, she pursued a modeling career in New York City and worked in television in Chicago.

Zeni’s daughter said she moved her mother, who suffered from dementia, into the facility in 2010.

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