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Police May Investigate Greeley Man's Death After Home Tattoo

By Rick Sallinger

GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4)- Police might open an investigation after a man in Greeley died a few weeks after getting a tattoo. Nemecio Benavidez received the tattoo from a woman at a party.

It led to an infection then his family says came Sepsis, which causes organ failure. His sister, Sylvia Cruz, says he shouldn't have died this way.

"This shouldn't have happened; it was a senseless, senseless death. He was only 52 had a long life ahead of him, " said Cruz.

Nemecio Benavidez
Nemecio Benavidez (credit: Benavidez family)

The tattoo wasn't given by a tattoo artist in a regulated, inspected parlor. It was from the type of person called a "scratcher".

Lori Moran is Benavidez's former wife, she told CBS 4 investigator Rick Sallinger, "They had a party and this girl was there who said she knows how to get a tattoo and volunteered to get one."

RELATED: Dangerous Ink: Tattoo Artists Called 'Scratchers' Can Make People Very Sick

News of the death has spread through Greeley especially at tattoo shops like Tainted Heart Creations where Crystal Ellingsworth told CBS4, "It is common to hear of infections from home tattoos but not death. That's pretty bad."

Tattoo death
The tattoo on Nemecio Benavidez's hand (credit: CBS)

She added they undergo inspections from the county to make sure extensive sterilization techniques are used. Tattoo artists must receive certification of blood borne pathogen training.

The Weld County health department says body art establishments are required to be licensed, but the person who gave Benavidez his tattoo was not.

Benavidez' sister recalls her brother being placed on life support.

"I asked them to hold on I wanted to tell him I loved him and be strong," she said with tears in her eyes.

He died a short time later.

CBS4's Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

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