Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct errors about the past of the victim, Eugene Jones II, who did not have a criminal history. It’s the suspect, Kavonceya Iman Cornelius, also known as Kenneth Rudolph Cornelius, who has several convictions. The Observer regrets the error.
A Salisbury woman is facing a second-degree murder charge after police say she performed an unlicensed plastic surgery procedure that led to the death of a transgender teen.
Media outlets in the teen’s hometown of Fayetteville reported that the procedure was silicone butt injections.
The teen, Symone Marie Jones, 19, died after receiving silicone injections from Kavonceya Iman Cornelius, 42, also known as Kenneth Rudolph Cornelius, who is not licensed to do such procedures.
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Jones died Jan. 12 in Fayetteville from complications blamed on the procedure, police say. A GoFundMe page set up to offset the cost of Jones’ funeral said “a bad silicon (sic) injection … cut her lungs and caused internal bleeding. Also, the silicon consisted of a substance that poisoned her bloodstream.”
On Monday, a warrant for second-degree murder was served on Kavonceya Cornelius, police said. Cornelius was placed in the Rowan County Detention Center under no bond.
Prior to beginning her transition to female, Jones was named Eugene Jones II, which is how Salisbury Police are referring to her in press statements. “Eugene Jones transitioned in adult life...(to) Symone Marie Jones and was accepted by family and friends with her new name,” a family member told the Observer March 22.
WTVD in Raleigh reported Monday that Jones started her transition to female a year ago, beginning with breast implants done by a licensed doctor in Miami, family members told WTVD.
Jones’ family says she began reaching out to a “concierge service” working on behalf of what Jones believed to be a licensed medical facility in Charlotte, WTVD reported.
On Jan. 5, Symone received silicone buttock injections in a Charlotte hotel, WTVD reported, but two days later ended up in a real hospital due to an inability to breathe.
Salisbury Police have said they believe Jones’ injections occurred in Salisbury, at Cornelius’ home in the 500 block of Union Heights Boulevard.
Investigators say they learned of the unlicensed procedures on Feb. 13, after receiving a tip from another patient who had become ill after receiving silicone injections from Cornelius, police said. “As a result, the victim now has very serious health problems,” police said in a statement. That patient, who lives out of state, has not been identified.
Police say the investigation found Cornelius had been conducting these medical procedures with non-medical grade silicone.
Cornelius received a year’s probation for driving under the influence in Cabarrus County in 2013. She also has been convicted in Mecklenburg County of soliciting for prostitution, soliciting a crime against nature, maintaining a place for prostitution, larceny, and loitering for prostitution, all misdemeanors, court records show.
Charlotte TV station WBTV reported Cornelius' sister believes she is innocent.
"My sister will be exonerated of these charges," Elisha Avery told WBTV.
Staff writer Joe Marusak and staff researcher Maria David contributed.