Originally created 07/09/02

Judge will be asked to decide fate of Ted Williams' body



HERNANDO, Fla. -- Ted Williams' estate will ask a judge to decide if the baseball great's body should be cremated or frozen, a move to try to resolve a family feud over the remains.

Al Cassidy, the executor of the estate, will file Williams' will in state court on Tuesday or Wednesday and ask the judge to rule on the issue, John Heer, a lawyer for Williams' oldest daughter, said Monday. Heer contends Williams wanted to be cremated.

The daughter, Bobby-Jo Ferrell, has accused her half brother, John Henry Williams, of moving their father's body from a Florida funeral home to Alcor Life Extension Foundation, where bodies are frozen.

She says John Henry Williams wants to preserve their father's DNA, perhaps to sell it in the future. The brother has not returned repeated calls seeking comment.

Ferrell plans to "rescue" her father's body from the cryonics company in Scottsdale, Ariz. She says the body already is frozen.

"My dad's in a metal tube, on his head, so frozen that if I touched him it would crack him because of the warmth from my fingertips," Ferrell told Boston's WBZ-TV. "It makes me so sick."

Karla Steen, a spokeswoman for Alcor, would not confirm Monday that Williams' body is at the facility. Ferrell has said she was told by the funeral home that the body was taken to Arizona.

Ferrell did not return several phone messages Monday and no one answered the door at her house. Bill Boyles and Pam Price, attorneys for the estate's executor, also did not return a phone message.

Ted Williams, the last major league hitter to bat better than .400 in a season, died Friday at age 83.

No funeral will be held, according to the wishes of the former Boston Red Sox slugger. Two memorial services are planned on July 22 at Fenway Park.

George Hommell, a fishing buddy of Ted Williams, said it was a shame family members are fighting over the body.

"Something like this makes you sick to your stomach," he said.

CRYONICS Q&A

Q: How is cryonics done?

A: The body is rushed to a cryonics lab immediately after death to minimize deterioration. The remains are chilled in dry ice to a temperature of about minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit and injected with chemicals that minimize the damage of the freezing process. Then the body is brought to a temperature of minus 320 degrees with liquid nitrogen and moved to a vacuum chamber for long-term storage. A typical vacuum chamber holds 14 frozen bodies.

Q: How long will it be before people can be brought back to life from a frozen state?

A: Most medical experts believe it will never be possible because of numerous technical obstacles. Cryonics proponents believe they will be able to revive frozen remains by the end of the century.

Q: How many people have been frozen in this procedure?

A: There are about 90 humans and a few dozen pets in cryonic preservation in the United States today. The "oldest" of them was frozen in 1967.Q: How much does it cost?A: The least expensive labs charge about $30,000 to freeze a body; some charge more than $100,000.