Who Mutilated Dominic Marion?

On the trail of a bizarre hospital crime, New Times finds a cryogenically frozen head, a witch hunt for a wiccan and a stumped detective. And still nobody knows . . .

Unfailingly polite and sensitive, Lindfors certainly seems more like a good witch than a bad witch.

But she says she's not a witch at all.

Lindfors said she took a world religion class at a community college, then discussed what she learned about Wicca from an actual witchcraft practitioner who worked in hospital purchasing. That's it. "Rumors fly around the hospital," Lindfors said with a sigh.

A police photograph shows the Columbia Medical Center bedding that accompanied the body of Dominic Marion to Heritage Funeral Chapel.
A police photograph shows the Columbia Medical Center bedding that accompanied the body of Dominic Marion to Heritage Funeral Chapel.
A police photograph shows the Columbia Medical Center bedding that accompanied the body of Dominic Marion to Heritage Funeral Chapel.
A police photograph shows the Columbia Medical Center bedding that accompanied the body of Dominic Marion to Heritage Funeral Chapel.

During her deposition, plaintiff attorney Kenneth Clancy grilled Lindfors about whether she was a member of a coven.

Then, about midway through the interview, he switched tactics and began sweetly inquiring about her 17 pets, including two potbellied pigs she was rehabilitating for a local animal hospital.

An attorney for the Columbia Medical Center, Renee Coury, seemed surprised at Clancy's knowledge of animal rehabilitation and asked him about it.

"You may find that I'm a bit of a softhearted person," Clancy said. "I'm sorry I'm taking so much time, but I find this interesting . . . . Which is your favorite animal?"

Lindfors: "My potbellied pig."

Clancy: "Which one? "

Lindfors: "Wesley."

Clancy: "And what's the other one's name?"

Lindfors: "Susie."

Clancy: "Wesley is a male?"

Lindfors: "Yes."

Clancy: "If you took your potbellied pig Wesley to Mountain View Animal Hospital, or any other facility you had confidence in, and you received a call saying that Wesley was dead and they didn't know the circumstances, but only that Wesley had been mutilated, do you have any sense as to what your reaction would be?"

Deborah Lindfors later left the deposition room in tears, the apparent victim of a witch hunt.

The second victim of gossip at Columbia was a surgical nurse named Rhonda Iacuzzo, whose bizarre and ill-fated love affair made her an unavoidable target of suspicion in the Marion case.

In the fall of 1994, Iacuzzo (who did not comment for this story) attended a cryogenics seminar in Riverside, California. Until then, her interest in cryopreservation had been mostly academic. She was an active volunteer at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation facility in Scottsdale, where she prepared small lab animals for freezing process tests.

At the Riverside seminar, she met a man who changed her life. Paul Genteman, the emcee of the event, was a longtime believer in cryogenics, having made arrangements in the 1970s to have his head frozen for preservation (in hopes of eventual revival, attached to a cloned body).

Iacuzzo and Genteman fell in love and began a long-distance relationship -- Iacuzzo traveling to Genteman's home in San Jose, Genteman flying to Phoenix.

But their future together was uncertain, as Genteman was gravely ill. His affliction was Crohn's disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease.

Saying an operation might help him, Iacuzzo convinced Genteman to undergo surgery at Columbia Medical Center on Christmas Eve, 1994. She assisted in the operation, then attended to him as he recovered at her home.

A couple days into the new year, Genteman's condition suddenly deteriorated, and Iacuzzo took him back to Columbia. He died of complications from Crohn's disease on January 3, 1995. Iacuzzo was at his side.

Once Genteman was dead, Iacuzzo knew she had to move quickly.

She got Genteman's body into an ambulance and rode with him to the Alcor facility. There she drained his blood with a bypass pump and replaced it with fluids of greater and greater consistency to squeeze the water from his cells. Then she added the "cocktail of medications" that is used to help preserve tissue during cryogenic freezing.

Iacuzzo said she did not view or assist in her boyfriend's decapitation.

When the preparation process was complete, Genteman's head went into a stainless steel container of liquid nitrogen. The container went into one of Alcor's large freezing cylinders, called dewars, which contain dozens of heads, several whole bodies and a small assortment of cats and dogs. The rest of Genteman's body was cremated.

Iacuzzo has made arrangements for her own head to be frozen, as well, and a few years ago she told the Denver Post in a feature story about cryogenics that she hopes she and Genteman can be together again someday.

Attorney Sheila Carmody, who represented the Donor Network of Arizona, heard about Iacuzzo at a social event. Iacuzzo was quickly subpoenaed for deposition, and her employee file was requested from the hospital. Attorneys also asked Alcor for an inventory of all suspended body parts at their facility.

The hospital counsel blasted back, calling the maneuver a "desperate fishing expedition."

"The parties in this case accuse Ms. Iacuzzo of a heinous crime, at the minimum, or if plaintiffs' theory is accepted, murder. . . . Donor Network is apparently looking for evidence that Ms. Iacuzzo cryopreserved Mr. Marion's genitalia."

Which is, of course, exactly what they were looking for. The very idea of a brokenhearted lover building cryo-Frankenstein was even more irresistible than a witch collecting genitalia for a cauldron.

During Renee Coury's deposition with Iacuzzo, the attorney waited until nearly the very end to ask the toughest question:

Coury: "Donor Network has represented in their pleading that they had heard that Ms. Iacuzzo may have engaged in sexual conduct with Mr. Genteman's deceased body. Did you do such a thing?"

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