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What Really Happened to Ted Williams
Tom Verducci
August 18, 2003
A year after the jarring news that the Splendid Splinter was being frozen in a cryonics lab, new details, including a decapitation, suggest that one of America's greatest heroes may never rest in peace
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August 18, 2003

What Really Happened To Ted Williams

A year after the jarring news that the Splendid Splinter was being frozen in a cryonics lab, new details, including a decapitation, suggest that one of America's greatest heroes may never rest in peace

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On the same afternoon that Lemler finished composing the letter, John Henry telephoned him from San Diego, where he had returned to be with his father. John Henry and Lemler talked about the possibility of announcing Ted as an Alcor member before he died. After the conversation Lemler returned to his letter and added a postscript. His excitement about such an announcement jumped off the page—"it would be huge," Lemler wrote. He concluded the postscript with this: "Stated bluntly, the Williams name can be expected to provide Alcor with a fund-raising and membership-enhancing leverage wedge it has never possessed."

Sometime that same day John Henry also telephoned Bobby-Jo in Florida. (They have different mothers; Bobby-Jo was born to Ted's first wife, and John Henry and Claudia to his third.) According to Bobby-Jo's written account of the conversation, which she released to reporters last year, John Henry asked her if she had ever heard about cryonics and said that he thought it would be "a great idea to do this to Dad." Bobby-Jo replied that her father's wishes had always been to be cremated.

"But wouldn't it be neat to sell Dad's DNA?" John Henry said. "There are lots of people who would pay big bucks to have little Ted Williams running around."

The next night, Bobby-Jo wrote, John Henry invited her to tour Alcor. She refused. Thereafter, she wrote, John Henry used his power of attorney over his father to push her out of Ted's life. She would see her father for the last time on Aug. 27, 2001.

By that time Alcor's field representatives, one of them Soard, had paid their unsuccessful visit to Ted's home in Florida, talking only to John Henry. When Johnson and Soard eventually discussed the Florida visit, Johnson told Soard he understood that Ted could be heard hollering in another room. Soard replied, "Yeah, that's all he was doing, you know, and he was disoriented."

Asked by SI about the meeting with John Henry, Soard replied, "I can neither confirm it or deny it," citing a confidentiality agreement he signed with John Henry.

Williams was blessed with the gifts of strength, athleticism and famously keen eyesight, but the last remnants of those gifts were failing him in 2002. His body was giving out. On the morning of July 5, 2002, Bobby-Jo received a telephone call from a friend at Citrus Memorial Hospital in Inverness, Fla. Her father was dead. The death was recorded at 8:49 a.m. Within a few hours an Alcor response team was in action, pumping Williams's body with blood thinners, slipping it into an ice-filled body bag and shipping it by private jet to Scottsdale.

Sometime after Williams's death, a fax from Florida spit out of the machine at Alcor. It was Ted's consent form. The line for Signature of Member was blank. John Henry had signed the document at 2:44 p.m. on the line that says, "Responsible person if Member is unable to sign or is an unemancipated minor or otherwise incompetent." Beneath that, on the line for Relationship or Authority, John Henry wrote "Son/POA," referring to power of attorney. That legal power to make decisions on behalf of another person ends, however, upon the person's death.

Two witnesses, David Hayes and Howard Lopez, had also signed the form at 2:44 p.m. The agreement states that witnesses must not be "officers, directors or agents of Alcor." Hayes was Alcor's on-site response team leader at the time. His understanding was that John Henry wanted a full-body suspension for Ted, for which the younger Williams would be billed $120,000 (head-only suspensions, known at Alcor as neuros—neuroseparation is the procedure of cutting off the head—run $50,000). Another $16,000 would be added to the bill for the air transport to Scottsdale.

By about 11:30 p.m. EDT—8:30 p.m. in Scottsdale—Williams's body was on an operating table at Alcor. In addition to a surgeon, a small crowd had gathered. Former Alcor COO Charles Piatt, in a 27-page petition to the company board last month calling for Lemler to resign as CEO, recounted what happened next.

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