By JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr.MARCH 11, 2014
Plastic surgery is not the first thing that comes to mind when one walks into the Liberty Inn Hotel, the infamous lodge in Manhattan’s meatpacking district that charges by the hour and is known for romantic trysts.
Undeterred by the locale, Tamara Blaine, 22, went to a second-floor room at the hotel last July to have an illegal medical procedure, one that has become increasingly popular in recent years as full-bodied women like Jennifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian have become iconic fashion figures.
As Ms. Blaine lay on a bed, Tamira Mobley, a self-described beautician from Wood-Ridge, N.J., injected silicone into the young woman’s buttocks. It was the fourth time in a year she had given Ms. Blaine an injection as part of a buttocks enhancement regimen, according to a criminal complaint.
Something went wrong. Ms. Blaine, a college student from Jamaica, Queens, went into a seizure and was barely alive when paramedics arrived at 12:33 p.m. Ms. Mobley, having dialed 911, quietly walked away. Ms. Blaine died at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital a short while later.
Ms. Mobley, 28, was brought before a judge in Manhattan Criminal Court on Tuesday and charged with second-degree manslaughter and first-degree assault, the district attorney’s office said. A judge set bail at $100,000.
An autopsy found that the silicone had entered Ms. Blaine’s bloodstream, causing embolisms and asphyxiating her. Though the medical examiner ruled the death a homicide on Oct. 1, it took detectives five more months to gather evidence.
The police were led to Ms. Mobley because she had used a credit card to pay for the room. A security camera also recorded her as she arrived at the hotel at 10:40 a.m. and met Ms. Blaine.
Detectives discovered text messages and emails suggesting that Ms. Mobley, who has no medical training, had injected “numerous other women, over the course of two years,” a criminal complaint said. She found clients by placing Internet ads.
Ms. Blaine’s death is not isolated. Deaths from black-market buttocks injections have been reported in recent years in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Nevada and Pennsylvania.
Dr. Robert X. Murphy, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, said the rise in deaths like Ms. Blaine’s had alarmed doctors, prompting the society to mount a public awareness campaign in 2011.
Black-market operators often inject industrial silicone into the buttocks, he said, “the stuff you are taking to grease your garage door with essentially.” Even with medical-grade silicone, surgeons would never resort to such a procedure, Dr. Murphy said, preferring silicone-filled implants or fat injections.
“This type of procedure should be performed by someone who knows the anatomy, knows the benefits and complications and knows how to take care of someone should a complication arise,” he said. “At the minimum someone should look toward a physician.”
Last month, in Mississippi, an interior decorator was sentenced to seven years in prison in the deaths of two women who were injected at her house. And in 2012, a Philadelphia woman known as the Black Madam was charged with murder after the death of a person she had injected with silicone at an airport hotel.
Six women in Essex County, N.J., were hospitalized in 2010 after receiving injections containing the silicone material contractors use to caulk bathrooms.