Last week came the definitive news that Bronx rapper Tim Dog was indeed dead. After over a year of investigations into Tim Dog (real name Timothy Blair) possibly faking his death following the February 2013 news of his alleged passing from a diabetic seizure, Dateline NBC finally obtained a copy of his death certificate. Among those who were looking to find proof of his expiration was one of Blair’s former victims, Esther Pilgrim. We spoke to Esther, who was at the center of the Dateline special about Tim Dog, “The Perfect Catch,” about their relationship and the process of trying to track down proof of his death.
See also: Rapper Tim Dog Is Dead
2007 was when your relationship with Tim Dog began. His swindle, as mentioned in the Dateline NBC special, was to allegedly get financial backing for a five-CD Tim Dog Greatest Hits release that he supposedly already had several pre-orders for. During your time with him, how much did you see him actively working on music?
Initially, of course, it was just about mundane things. What type of relationships, that sort of thing. He didn’t directly say who he was, in the beginning. He just gave enough hints that I would certainly Google because at that point I didn’t research people when I met them. Now I do a full background check. Then, when I addressed him as to who he was, he acted humbly, honored I figured out who he was. He [said he] wasn’t the same man, of course, but couldn’t deny his past because it made him who he was today, and that he’d used those monies to invest in real estate. I only made two trips to Atlanta; the first, I stayed at a valued-near-half-million-dollar condo. It turns out, when I was doing my investigations, one of his other victims owned that condo.
One of the things that really has frustrated me with this case is that Tim was a financial rapist and an abuser of women. He targeted single mothers with children, and when you hurt a mother where she can’t function, you’re abusing her children as well. It’s so horrible that these predators get away with this and then people have the balls to try to blame the victim. I’ve had people write really ugly things about the victims, and don’t you think hindsight is 20/20? I think every victim would change something they did to change the outcome. The statistics on this kind of crime, from my research, less than 7 percent of victims ever come forward, and then they get victim-blamed by the police department, which happened to me. The police offer, who was a female, didn’t even want to take my police report — and didn’t until I refused to leave. You get to the police station to ask for help, and they re-victimize you.
It took a few years before the charges could be pressed. The Dateline special was filmed in late 2011, and it said it wasn’t until 2010 that the charges were heard?
Yeah, I think it was 2010 when we actually got the indictment. It was in August; everything happened in August. Then, in August of 2011 was the conviction where they did the plea bargain. I don’t think I even knew it was going to be grand larceny until I got to the courthouse. Of course, later we would find out other victims invested in the same five-CD box set. Then, when we did the plea bargain, the assistant D.A. wanted to know if we wanted the CDs, because we had already paid for them. My argument was, what are we going to do with the CDs, because they were illegally produced. Sony didn’t give permission, which was part of the scam too.
What’s sad is that it’s actually brought Tim attention. These articles are not saying what an incredible fight the victims had to make. A seven-year journey. The ratings go up on the music on our suffering.
How did you first hear of Tim’s passing, and when did you suspect his death might have been fraudulent?
He died in February, and for about 24 hours I believed it. I went to lunch with a friend and started crying when I realized that if anyone was in hell who I’ve ever known, that I believe he was. But then people kept saying to me, “Whatever, do you have any proof?” Finally, by May when there was no evidence of the death certificate, I had a friend who I served in Desert Storm with that was going to Atlanta to get a passport and offered to check and see if she could find a copy. Of course, they couldn’t find a copy, and so I had a friend who was a cameraman for one of the news stations who in passing mentioned [the lack of a death certificate] to a reporter, and she jumped on it. The pressure of that, I believe, led to the issue of a warrant.
That wouldn’t have been done without pushing every step of the way, and that’s how hard it is to get justice from financial rapists. I do want to give credit to who I call Team Australia who helped Dateline locate addresses.
Do you believe now that Tim Dog is absolutely dead?
The other day when I was talking to [Tim’s former rapping partner in Ultramagnetic MCs] Ced Gee, he still didn’t believe Tim was dead, and I pretty much had to convince him. I know what we know, and I believe he is in fact dead.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 29, 2014