MIAMI GARDENS -- This was no ordinary flat repair.
Oneal Ron Morris took a look and went to work.
Not on a tire. But on the backside of a Miami Gardens woman who was seeking the derriere of her dreams.
Instead, she got a tush full of toxins.
Morris, a self-proclaimed doctor, injected a concoction of “fix-a-flat” -- cement, mineral oil and Super Glue -- into the woman’s buttocks, police said.
The materials eventually spread through her body and nearly killed her.
The woman, whose name is not being released because of medical privacy laws, went to three different hospitals before doctors finally figured out the cause of the mystery ailment that caused pneumonia-like symptoms and left large, infected welts on her backside.
On Friday, Miami Gardens police finally caught up with the elusive “doctor,” a transgender woman whose own butt is the size of a truck tire. Investigators suspect she is part of an underground network of scam artists who have been offering “pumping parties” and home buttocks augmentations across South Florida for years.
In some cases, the end result has been deadly.
Vera Lawrence of Carol City died in March 2001 after too much silicone was injected in her buttocks during a “pumping party” at a Miramar home. The hosts of the party were not licensed physicians, and eventually were charged with Lawrence’s death.
The Miami Gardens woman is recovering.
“In a world where body image is in the forefront of our media, this woman, for whatever reason, thought that this was the answer and she almost lost her life,” Miami Gardens Detective Michael Dillon said.
The victim was recommended to Morris by what Dillon called “a friend of a friend.” Oneal conducted the procedure in early May 2010.
Solving a mystery
It took more than a year for investigators from the Florida Department of Health to put the case together, in part because the woman was too embarrassed to come forward, Dillon said.
The woman is still undergoing home health treatments, and remains in poor health, Dillon said. He believes Morris has other victims who also may be too ashamed to go to authorities.
The 30-year-old victim paid $700 for a series of injections between May 3 and May 7, 2010. She told authorities that Morris had her lay flat on her stomach on a table that was set up in a townhouse at 1114 NW 206th Ter., a residential neighborhood in Miami Gardens.
She was able to see some of the “tools,” which she described as rubber tubing attached to what appeared to be a cooler. She felt enormous pressure, and then pain, as Morris began inserting the tubing into her buttocks.
“It hurt to the point that she was screaming,” Dillon said. Morris “kept reassuring her that it was almost over.”
The victim stopped Morris before the injections were finished because she was in such agony, Dillon said. Morris sealed her wounds with Super Glue and she went home, Dillon said.
Twenty-four hours later, she was still in pain and began suffering flu-like symptoms.
She first went to Jackson North Medical Center in North Miami-Dade. The doctors looked her over, but were somewhat perplexed by her symptoms. She was afraid to tell them what she had done and left before they finished her exam. She then drove to North Shore Medical Center, where doctors also were mystified.
She again left before being treated and returned home. She unsuccessfully tried to reach Morris for several days.
Almost two weeks later, the victim’s mother saw a news report of a similar victim being treated at a hospital in Tampa.
With her daughter still sick, she drove her to Tampa General Hospital, where doctors treated her for what they believed was a staph infection. She finally told them what she had done and one of her doctors desperately tried to reach Morris to find out what was used so that they could treat the woman.
“They left messages, pleading ... that they needed to know,” Dillon said.
The woman was hospitalized for several days, but once again left abruptly, fearing that she could be charged with wrongdoing.
Tampa doctors called the state health department after tests showed that she had been injected with toxic chemicals. By then, the victim had returned home to suffer in silence. It took a state health investigator until March of this year to track her down.
Once they identified Morris, however, they couldn’t find her. For months, she stayed a few steps ahead of investigators. who followed several leads that led them to an address in North Lauderdale. Whenever they showed up, however, Morris was nowhere to be found.
On Friday, a Miami Gardens police officer decided to swing by one more time. He was shocked by Morris’ appearance, Dillon said.
It’s not clear whether Morris was a victim of her own concoctions.
Morris was charged with practicing medicine without a license and causing bodily harm.
Dillon, a 12-year-veteran, said he inherited the case from another detective who was assigned to it more than a year ago.
Morris faces a charge of practicing healthcare without a license, causing great bodily injury, a second-degree felony.
Dillon said the woman has a pile of medical bills, is unable to work and continues to suffer from her ordeal.