Backroom Backsides: I-Team Tracks Down Woman Accused in Deadly Silicone Case - NBC4 Washington
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Backroom Backsides: I-Team Tracks Down Woman Accused in Deadly Silicone Case

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    I-Team Tracks Down Woman Accused in Deadly Silicone Case

    The News4 I-Team has learned a woman accused of giving deadly silicone injections fled the U.S. shortly after a death more than two years ago and is now fighting to avoid extradition from London, England. (Published Friday, Feb. 9, 2018)

    The News4 I-Team has learned a woman accused of giving deadly silicone injections fled the U.S. shortly after a death more than two years ago and is now fighting to avoid extradition from London, England.

    "Why are you recording me?" Donna Francis asked as the I-Team tried to question her about the case.

    Until now, Francis has never been publicly identified as the suspect in the death of Kelly Mayhew, the Maryland woman who died after traveling to New York City in May 2015 to get a dangerous underground procedure to enhance her backside.

    The I-Team was in the London courtroom in December as a magistrate continued Francis' extradition hearing until March. Francis wears an ankle monitor and is required to check in regularly with officers.

    Following the hearing, Francis ran from the I-Team camera, refusing to answer any questions and declining to say anything to the Mayhew family.

    Shot to Death

    Mayhew's mother had traveled with her daughter from Maryland to New York for the procedure, and was in the room as she was having the silicone injections.

    "The so-called doctor was operating out of her basement apartment in a private house and there were actually other people waiting in their cars to get in. So this was a pretty elaborate operation," said Lt. Cmdr. Richard Rudolph of the NYPD homicide unit.

    Detectives say Mayhew had gotten silicone injections several times before. But this time, the oily substance traveled through her bloodstream. She stopped breathing as her mother held her hand, begging the suspect to help her daughter.

    "As this girl was dying on the floor, she was cleaning up everything," said Rudolph. "She was taking all her medical supplies anything that was related to this incident and all her paperwork."

    Police say as Francis made her getaway, Mayhew's mother called 911 and began CPR. Detectives say they were able to use Mayhew's cell phone records to identify Francis, and Mayhew's mother picked her out of a photo lineup.

    "Mom will never forget this woman's face — ever," said Rudolph.

    Members of the Mayhew family told the I-Team they are still too distraught to talk about what happened to Kelly.

    "It was very traumatic for her but she was very good and very particular on everything she observed and remembered," said Detective Michael Naus.

    But by the time police went to arrest Francis, she was already gone.

    "It's frustrating," said Rudolph. "Once she was identified and fled, our hands were tied."

    More than a year after Mayhew's death, New York police obtained an arrest warrant for Donna Francis for criminally negligent homicide. But it would take another 11 months for London police to arrest Francis at her new job as a driver for a hospital, which has since suspended her.

    An attorney representing Francis in London told the I-Team it would be inappropriate to comment on Francis' pending extradition hearing or the case against her in the U.S.

    Detectives say it may take months or years, but they will not give up.

    "It does not matter how long," Naus said. "She's not getting away with it."

    No 'Safe' Silicone

    But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration fears many people who give silicone injections do get away with it.

    "It is a growing problem," said FDA medical officer Dr. Jacqueline Francis. "Any silicone loosely in the body can cause damage and can cause death and serious injury."

    The FDA is so concerned about the rise of cases like Mayhew's, the agency recently issued a public warning to underscore that no silicone shots are FDA approved, even when given in a spa or doctor's office. Even medical grade silicone oil is only approved for use to treat a specific eye condition.

    "There is no quote unquote safe type of liquid silicone for body contouring," said Francis.

    The FDA says it is often unaware of silicone injections suspects, until they are connected with a death or serious injury.

    In many of the cases reviewed by the News4 I-Team, prior victims had sought medical treatment for serious conditions following silicone injections, but the doctors or hospitals they visited were not required to alert law enforcement, even though the injections are illegal.

    "It would be really helpful if we are informed," said Francis.

    A Musical Message

    "I don't think it would be as popular at all, if people knew how dangerous it was," said Rae Shine, a local hip hop artist who just released a song referencing the illegal procedure.

    Her song, "Searching," talks about the influences that encourage young women to be sex symbols.

    "There's pressure to get breast implants or get your butt enhanced or to get shots," said Shine. "Any time you see success in a woman rapper or R&B singer, it seems like they have a certain body type where certain areas are exaggerated."

    One verse in her song says, "Make your skin light, get shots, be plastic/Change your whole appearance, yeah let's get drastic."

    Shine says when she wrote those words, she was thinking about her friend, Kelly Mayhew, and the pressure all young women face.

    "I think they think it's no big deal because they're their icons are doing it," said Shine, adding that she never knew Kelly was getting silicone injections, until after she was gone.

    "I mean she was so full of life and love and her energy, like her hugs were so amazing," recalled Shine.

    Kelly worked for BET Networks, so she was also part of the entertainment industry.

    Shine says Kelly was always supportive of her music career and hopes her listeners will hear her message and help prevent the next death in this dangerous trend.

    "I need to express to other young ladies that you don't have to go this route," said Shine. "I hope that justice will be served."

    The News4 I-Team has learned a woman accused of giving deadly silicone injections fled the U.S. shortly after a death more than two years ago and is now fighting to avoid extradition from London, England.

    The News4 I-Team has learned a woman accused of giving deadly silicone injections fled the U.S. shortly after a death more than two years ago and is now fighting to avoid extradition from London, England.

    Reported by Jodie Fleischer, produced by Rick Yarborough and Kristina Pavlovic, and shot and edited by Jeff Piper.

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