North Carolina couple charged with abusing disabled woman

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BENSON, NC (WNCN) – The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office called it the worst case of abuse they’ve ever seen and they said it happened at the hands of the victim’s step-sister and that step-sister’s boyfriend.

Rosemary Zaranka, 32, and her boyfriend, Damien Armstrong, 35 were entrusted to care for Zaranka’s 28-year-old step-sister.

Cpt. Jeff Caldwell said the couple received the woman’s disability benefits to help them care for her.

Authorities were called to the Benson Hardee Road trailer early Saturday morning and found the victim semi-conscious with bruises and lacerations all over her body.

In the 911 call, Armstrong told the dispatcher, “My sister-in-law like she had disappeared for about what…two weeks. She came back. She showed up about like two, maybe three days ago now.”

He went on to say, “She started acting like real weird. Kind of started picking at herself and she was eating up until maybe 4 or 5 hours ago.”

Caldwell told CBS North Carolina Zaranka and Armstrong later recanted. They said they’d gotten in over their heads.

CBS North Carolina also spoke with the couple off-camera. They said the woman did it to herself, that she had a history of acting out.

“I’ve seen her once since I been here,” a neighbor who didn’t want to be identified said. “We asked her a couple times have you, your sister don’t ever come outside? And they said no. She doesn’t like the sunlight and she don’t like being around people,” that neighbor went on to say.

Zaranka and Armstrong have a 9-year-old son together. They say he lives in the home. They question why Child Protective Services hasn’t gotten involved, if the allegations are true.

Both posted the $150,000 bond.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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