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True Crime Lite: Robbery and Zoom Meeting in Progress

2020 was a tough year for everyone. As an essential worker all that year, I know as well as any how tough it was. Literally the entire world was in quarantine, trying not to hate life for a solid year. Through the cabin fever and immense boredom, many also had to reconfigure their entire lives, working from home and becoming their children's new teachers. Apparently even burglars had it tough with everyone being at home all the time. It's just hard to find a good time to break into a home when there's always someone there. It becomes even harder when Zoom conferences are an essential part of most people's day.

According to the Washington Examiner, Amanda Zupanicic was a middle school special education teacher in November, 2020. She was living in Cleveland, Ohio and like many others during the year that will live in infamy, she was working from home. At 11:00 one morning, Amanda had a Zoom conference scheduled with a student's parents. It was a morning just like any other during the start of the pandemic. A quiet morning around the house, getting ready for her conference call while her husband and her one-year-old baby were out of the house.

She sat down at her Zoom meeting and as she began speaking with her student's parents, she heard a loud crash downstairs. The hero of a woman that decided to make a career out of helping special needs children made a joke of the sound she heard. The unbelievably brave woman told News 5 Cleveland, "I heard a glass-shattering crash downstairs. I was like, 'Hold on, I think someone is breaking into my house,' just joking. I didn't think anyone would be breaking into my house in the middle of the day."

She went to investigate the sound and quickly realized how foreshadowing her previous joke had been. Amanda saw a man walking through her baby gate with a knife in his hand as he headed directly for the stairs. The man, later identified as Charles Derosett, grabbed her in the hallway and led her back into her bedroom, where her Zoom conference was still in progress. Charles was yelling threats and calling the heroic woman horrible names as he started rifling through her things, looking for anything of value. As the family on the Zoom call witnessed the robbery in progress, they called 911. The Washington Examiner reports that the father calling in the crime explained to the dispatcher, "The teacher that teaches my son, somebody broke into her house, we saw it on the Zoom."

As the man threatened her to get down on the floor, Amanda asked if he would agree to let her retrieve her car keys from downstairs if she agreed to turn them over to him. He let her go and she rushed down the stairs. According to the Washington Examiner's coverage of this case, Amanda states, "When I reached for the keys, instead, I opened the gate. And I have a German Shepard and a Great Dane-boxer mix. So the German Shepard stood between myself and this guy, and the Great Dane-boxer mix went at him."

While the robber was distracted by the dog, Amanda grabbed a pair of scissors and chased the man out of her house and down the street. While in pursuit, she screamed to everyone around for help and that the man she was chasing had robbed her. A contractor doing work at a neighbor's house heard her cries for help and leapt into action. He tackled Charles Derosett to the ground and held him there until police arrived to take him into custody.

Charles Derosett was already a convicted felon before this botched burglary. He was charged with aggravated robbery and felonious assault in this truly embarrassing case. The heroic woman that spends her days teaching the special needs adolescents of Cleveland became a hero twice over when she aided in the apprehension of her own burglar.

We can certainly say that this man's first mistake was burglarizing a home mid-quarantine. Not only are people home, they're stir-crazy and disgruntled about the large amounts of toilet paper that they cannot return. After nearly a year cooped up, Amanda was likely in need of that run and the fresh air she took in while pursuing her robber.

Some takeaways from this story: A world-wide pandemic and quarantine is not the time to start planning burglaries. You're not going to find an empty home at any time of day. Never mess with a new mom. Mother-bear instincts kick in quickly and fiercely, and the child does not need to be in the home for the mother to decide to draw blood. If so much as a teddy bear belonging to the child is present, you're done for. And finally, always assume someone working from home is in a Zoom meeting and realize that these people can see and hear you.

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