Screenshot of 93-year-old Rebecca Zeni / 11 Alive


A former New York model, Rebecca Zeni, 93, was eaten alive by parasitic mites due to a scabies infestation while in the care of a Georgia nursing home.

An investigation into the revealed she died from scabies during her stay at the Shepherds Hill Nursing Home in LaFayette, 11 Alive reported.

A forensic pathologist who reviewed the case estimates millions of parasitic mites essentially ate her alive over several months or possibly years.

According to a pending lawsuit filed by the family, 93-year-old Rebecca Zeni died in 2015 from scabies at the facility. The autopsy report shows the cause of death as “septicemia due to crusted scabies.” State health officials were notified about a scabies outbreak at the nursing home multiple times, but did not inspect the LaFayette, Ga. facility.

Zeni’s family say their mother lived the American dream. She worked in a naval yard during World War II; modeled in New York City, and worked at a TV station in Chicago.

An autopsy report stated the woman’s cause of death was “septicemia due to crusted scabies,” FOX News reports.

State health officials were made aware of a scabies outbreak at the facility but did not investigate or inspect the nursing home, the station reported.

Scabies is an “infestation by the human itch mite. The microscopic scabies mite burrows into the upper layer of the skin where it lives and lays its eggs,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



Zeni’s daughter, who declined to be interviewed on-camera, says she moved her mother to into Shepherd Hills Nursing Home in 2010. Health records show Zeni suffered from dementia.

Mike Prieto and Stephen Chance are attorneys representing Zeni’s family in a lawsuit against Pruitt Health, which operates Shepherd Hills Nursing Home, where Zeni died. “I don’t understand how you can allow a human being to suffer needlessly,” said Prieto.

Chance claims staff were told not to touch Zeni’s hand. “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 Chance in an interview.


YouTube video courtesy of 11Alive

The news station asked Dr. Kris Sperry, a forensic pathologist, to look over Zeni’s autopsy report. Sperry said out of the 6,000 autopsies he has conducted, Zeni’s was “one of the most horrendous things I’ve ever seen in my career as a forensic pathologist.”

Sperry believed hundreds of millions of mites were burrowed inside Zeni during the time of her death. When asked if it was fair to say Zeni was “eaten alive,” he said it was likely she suffered a painful death.

“Having seen what I’ve seen with Ms. Zeni, I think that is frankly a good characterization,” Sperry said. “I would seriously consider calling this a homicide by neglect.”

So sad and so horrific.

Rest in peace hun.

God Bless.


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