She modeled in New York and worked for the Navy. At 93, parasites ate her alive at a nursing home

Washington Post, The Ottawa Citizen

Her beauty could capture a room, her daughter said, but she was more than just a beautiful face. She was a modern-day woman of the 1940s and 1950s, headstrong, career-oriented and hard-working, said Mike Prieto, a lawyer representing Zeni’s family. At a time when women were expected to marry young and have children, the small-town girl from North Carolina moved to Norfolk after high school to work at the naval base there, her daughter, Pamela Puryear, said. She later became a model in New York City and worked as an assistant for CBS News’ Mike Wallace before she married and became a stay-at-home mother. “Her life just became exciting,” Puryear said. “She thought in her mind that everybody’s life is just like this.” But the once-vibrant woman later found herself living in a nursing home, where she suffered a long, painful death, her family’s attorneys said. Parasitic mites had burrowed under her skin, living and laying eggs all over her body. By the time she died, vesicles and thick crusts had formed on her skin. Her right hand had turned nearly black, and Prieto said her fingers were about to fall off.

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