Family Battle For Mom’s Frozen Head


When 71 year old Ms. Robbins died of cervical cancer recently, she had no idea she would end up lying in pieces.

The nurse now stashed in a Colorado Springs funeral had, years back, signed a life insurance agreement with Alcor Life Extension Foundation that provided for her head to be removed then cryonically frozen in hopes of revival at some later date.

It might have gone as planned except for relatives with a lawyer aren’t about to see Alcor sop up what they consider their right to inherit mom’s money. Their plan to get it entails having Ms. Robbins immediately cremated, according to retained lawyer, Robert Scranton.

So the court fight for Mary Robbins’ head is underway.

Arizona based Alcor is known for attracting cryonic believers and battling for their heads. Such was the case of baseball champion Ted Williams. In that case Ted’s children who also wanted the body and the insurance accused Alcor of mistreating his head once they got it and froze Williams up.

Now embroiled in another legal battle with the family, Alcor stands on pretty solid ground.

Mary Robbin’s daughter, Darlene Robbins who wants mom cooked is quoted as stating, “It’s quite literally giving me nightmares,”

“Go away,” she told Alcor. “Let us cremate our mother, which is what we want to do.”

Attorney Scranton claims he took on the case of the head-battle after receiving a frantic phone call from the funeral home with news that Alcor representatives were there to collect Mary’s head.

He is currently arguing that the retired nurse, grandmother of 10, verbally dissolved her agreement with Alcor a couple days before she died. The lawyer claims Ms. Robbins was so weakened by cancer she couldn’t follow through with Alcor’s protocol requirements.

Based on that he says, the original agreement is invalid as is Ms. Robbins’ contractual signature. He claims that makes Alcor’s legal rights, “vague.”

“It’s kind of this general idea that we’ll freeze you, we’ll do the best we can,” Scranton is quoted as saying. “It’s not like freezing a chicken to thaw it out later and cook it.”

Clifford Wolff, Alcor attorney remains very clear that, “All anatomical gifts must be spelled out in writing and must be canceled in writing.”

He insists that Alcor is fighting Robbins kin in order to preserve their mother’s wishes, not to recoup any financial losses. “The issue of money is not the issue in this lawsuit,” he insists. “The issue is fulfilling the written desire of Ms. Robbins.”

Alcor has repeatedly requested any sort of written proof of their position from Robbins’ family that she changed her mind at the last minute.

To date, nothing has been forthcoming.

“What they want with the body, I have no idea,” Darlene Robbins said. “It has to just be for money. I can’t think of any other reason why they would pursue her body.”

Fast-Killing Cancer Ended Mary’s Cryonics Plans

Attorney Scranton says Ms. Robbins had long-planned on freezing her head in hopes technology would one day allow her to be revived. She signed up with Alcor in 2006, taking out a $50,000 annuity and naming the non-profit cryonics facility as beneficiary to pay for harvesting and storage services. “She was always fascinated by those types of things,” he said. “I think it’s been said that she had a desire that if she could live again she would come back as a scientist or a researcher.”

Robbins was diagnosed with cervical cancer only a few weeks ago, at the end of 2009. Then tests showed cancer had spread to most of her vital organs. It had not reached her brain so radiation was immediately started while she signed up for a cancer treatment study.

Too weak to participate in treatment, Robbins resigned herself to losing the battle and thus her fate, contacting Alcor to stand by in preparation for her demise.

When Is Too Late?

As soon as the family realized Alcor would fight for Mary’s head, they agreed to allow the head to be packed in ice, while the rest of the body was refrigerated per normal post-mortem storage. The body remains intact.

The lawyer maintains that ice wasn’t brought in until about 24 hours after Robbins was dead.

He says Alcor’s list of lengthy procedures to ensure proper freezing after death mean Mary’s body is no longer viable for retrial at any later date because it was not prepared according to Alcor guidelines.

Restoration of life after cryonics freezing has never been successful among humans that we know of. It has among other animal life.

Whether it is science of the future or hopeless wishful thinking, the battle for bodies is bound to go on for many years yet to come.

Claudia Strasbaugh was a freelance writer who founded Scripps Ranch/Mira Mesa Writer’s Guild, was head writer for the weekly TV show “Kill ‘EM With Comedy”, plus California Bureau Chief for National Lotto World Magazine. Claudia also ran a non profit called Dinner On A Dollar. Sadly, Claudia passed away in 2015, but we are pleased to display her writing works.