Police: Contract worker arrested after choking female tenant, stealing wallet

Ronnie Vanzant

A contract construction worker at a Charleston apartment is behind bars after allegedly getting into a tenant’s apartment and choking her with a rope before stealing her wallet and fleeing the area.

Ronnie Joe Vanzant, 53, is charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, armed robbery and first-degree burglary. He is being held at the Charleston County jail.

According to an arrest affidavit, around 9:40 a.m. Saturday, Vanzant gained entry into the common place of an apartment building he worked at on Cannon Street and then opened the victim’s front door, which was secured by a chain lock.

When the victim saw Vanzant she recognized him as a construction worker she had previously loaned $40. He said he was there to pay her back, so she allegedly unchained the door and he immediately went inside and pushed her face-first onto a nearby bed, the report states.

Vanzant then wrapped a rope around the victim’s neck and tightened it until she stopped breathing, according to the affidavit. She tried to fight him as he continued to choke her and eventually was able to scream for help.

She asked Vanzant what he wanted and he allegedly demanded, “just money,” the affidavit states. After that, he stopped choking her, grabbed her wallet, which contained three credit cards and $50 cash, and fled the apartment.

The victim called 911 and Charleston police officers found her with “deep ligature marks” around the front half of her throat, according to the affidavit. They also found the rope Vanzant allegedly used to choke the woman, which he left at the apartment.

The victim estimated that she was choked for about 45 seconds and nearly lost consciousness. She told officers that she believed Vanzant would have killed her with the rope had he continued, the affidavit states.

Vanzant was identified by co-workers and the victim, according to the affidavit.

Reach Melissa Boughton at 937-5594 or at Twitter.com/mboughton.