SI Vault
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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"My question," Brothers wrote, "is then, how could Claudia have signed that piece of paper on Nov. 2nd?"

Claudia provided an affidavit to a Florida court attesting to her signature. Al Cassidy, a longtime Williams family friend and the executor of Ted's estate, accepted the veracity of the note and sided with Claudia and John Henry. In early October 2002, having spent $87,000 in legal fees, Bobby-Jo reached a settlement with her two siblings. Under terms of the settlement, John Henry agreed not to sell any of his father's DNA or tissue, and Bobby-Jo agreed to refrain from public comment on the disposition of Ted's remains. John Henry and Claudia (who did not return messages from SI seeking comment) agreed to release to Bobby-Jo $200,000, her share of an insurance trust that Cassidy could have withheld for up to 10 years.

"I feel like they've perpetuated a fraud upon the courts of Florida and upon Bobby-Jo," Mark Ferrell, Bobby-Jo's husband, told SI, referring to John Henry and Claudia. John Heer, Bobby-Jo's (and Larry Johnson's) lawyer, has petitioned the state attorney's office to investigate the matter.

With the family dispute set-tied, Alcor stepped up its efforts to collect the $111,000 balance, leaving a paper trail of fruitless attempts. On Jan. 24 of this year, Lemler sent John Henry an invoice for $111,000 (page 72); on March 18 a Phoenix law firm working on behalf of Alcor asked a Florida firm to begin preparing a complaint against John Henry and Claudia; under the heading "Old Business" Alcor's May 10 board meeting agenda included: "111k receivable from Patient A-1949 update"; on June 8, according to minutes from a board meeting that day, "the sense of the Board was for Dr. Jerry Lemler to contact the son and daughter, informing them that their application for Alcor membership would likely be rejected" because of the nonpayment.

According to Johnson and his taped conversations, a board member and an adviser joked about "throwing [ Williams's] body away," posting it on eBay or sending it in a "frosted cardboard box" C.O.D. to John Henry's doorstep, to persuade him to pay the bill. "That was the last straw," Johnson says, describing his decision to go public with his concerns.

The Cryostar, meanwhile, that intermediate freezer containing Ted's head, wasn't faring much better than Alcor's bill collectors. According to several internal e-mails the Cryostar was having temperature-fluctuation problems, and in a taped conversation Johnson and Piatt discussed it as being unreliable.

On April 8, according to the monitoring device connected to Williams's head, what Johnson called "a huge crack" occurred. On July 17 Johnson logged a handwritten note that said a colleague "reports cracking occurred 9 times in A-1949 within the last 15 hours." The next day, according to Johnson, Alcor moved Williams's head from the Cryostar to another container, the LR-40, a two-foot-diameter barrel-shaped machine into which liquid nitrogen is slowly pumped. This was where the hard freezing took place. After two or three days, the head was put into the neuro-can, sealed and stored in a neuro-vault.

The Ferrells did not know until last week the details of what had happened to Williams's body at Alcor. Mark Ferrell, who was not included in the gag order as part of the October settlement, said that Johnson's decision to reveal the information has strengthened his and his wife's quest to have Ted's remains cremated and spread over the waters he loved to fish.

"He was not only my father-in-law for 28 years, he was my friend," Ferrell said. "I'm going to fight until they let that body go."

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