Florida 1997: ME persuaded not to autopsy brain of suicide victim

Joseph G. Cannon, Patient A-1069 was a pioneer in the cryonics community. In 1971 he created a for-profit company (CRY 0 ERA CORPORATION) to design and sell "cryogenic interment equipment," and involved himself in three major cryonics-oriented projects. The first was the design and fabrication of the first four-patient capsule (a design that looked remarkably like that being used by Alcor today). The second was the building of "Hope Knoll," which was to be a facility for long-term storage of patients from any cryonics organization. The third was an attempt to get a bill passed by the Wisconsin legislature (to quote from a letter dated March 20, 1971)"to alter interment laws so as to properly encompass cryogenic interment."

Unfortunately, the Wisconsin legislature instead decided to make cryonic interment illegal. This resulted in making the Hope Knoll facility of little use. For nearly two decades, Mr. Cannon and his wife, Terry Cannon, wintered in Avon Park, Florida and returned to Wisconsin in the summer. Disappointed in their dealings with the State of Wisconsin, the Cannons began to spend less time there.

After his beloved wife, Terry, was placed into biostasis by Alcor in 1985, Mr. Cannon lived alone in their home in Avon Park, Florida. His loneliness and depression gradually deepened over the years.

At approximately 8:00 AM MST on Thursday, February 20, 1997, Alcor received a call from the mortician, who reported that Mr. Cannon had committed suicide at the hospital sometime the previous evening. The nursing staff found him in the morning, under the sheets with a pillowcase around his neck. The exact time of death was not known or estimated. The medical surrogate and Mr. Cannon's one relative (a sister, also living in Florida) felt that under the circumstances — many hours of warm ischemia cryotransport procedures were no longer an option. They had given the mortician instructions to cremate Mr. Cannon.

Carlos Mondragon (Director) and Fred Chamberlain (President) began a series of conference telephone calls to find and speak with the Medical Examiner who would be in charge of Mr. Cannon's autopsy, scheduled for early that afternoon. Less than ten minutes had elapsed when an urgent called from Keith Henson (Director) told us that the problem was already under control. Keith had reached the doctor assigned to the autopsy, and a cooperative relationship had been established.

Carlos Mondragon and Fred Chamberlain continued their teleconference outreach, speaking with Mr. Cannon's mortician, Mr. Cannon's personal attorney, and even the State Attorney's office. The State Attorney agreed that the Medical Examiner could limit autopsy to spare Mr. Cannon's brain. The limited autopsy was moved to an earlier time at our request and the mortician was at the hospital, waiting when Mr. Cannon was released. The mortician packed Mr. Cannon in ice, moved him back to the mortuary, and then put Mr. Cannon in a refrigerated unit until Alcor personnel could arrive.

SOURCE: Preventing Autopsy for Alcor Member A-1069 (Extract from pages 15-34)