Criminal charges will not be filed in the case of a woman whose head was severed and frozen in hopes she could be brought back to life with a new body, prosecutors said Wednesday.
"We evaluated all the evidence there was and there simply wasn't enough for us to prosecute," said Assistant District Attorney Don Inskeep. "There wasn't a likelihood that more would develop, so the case is closed."A spokesman for Alcor Life Extension Foundation, where the head of Dora Kent was cut off in late 1987 and frozen in a tank of liquid nitrogen in a process called cryonics, hailed the decision to drop the case.
"This was a terrible injustice and it has meant three years of fear and anxiety for us," said Alcor research director Mike Darwin. "Any time you are accused of grand theft, homicide and other untruths it is damaging to you both personally and professionally."
Kent, 83 and in ill health, was transferred to Alcor from a nursing home by her son, Saul, a believer in cryonics. He and Alcor said that after Kent died of natural causes Dec. 11, 1987, her head was removed and frozen.
The investigation began after Alcor applied for a permit to cremate the headless body. The Riverside County Coroner's Office said it had grounds for an investigation because the woman was not under a doctor's care when she died.
Authorities tried to get permission to defrost Kent's head to examine it for signs of foul play. A judge refused, however, ruling it would be an unconstitutional infringement on a person's right to choose the method of disposal of his or her remains.
The coroner did, however, perform toxicological tests on body tissues and ruled the death a homicide caused by a lethal dose of barbiturates. Coroner Raymond Carillo had been criticized for his handling of other prominent cases, and lost his bid for re-election. Alcor said the barbiturate Nembutol had been administered after Kent's death to help preserve her brain cells.
Alcor currently has 16 "patients" in cryonic suspension - 10 heads and six bodies - said Darwin.