Local News in Brief : Twist in Frozen Head Case

A UCLA Medical Center research associate has been placed on leave while university police investigate whether medical equipment seized at a Riverside cryonics laboratory was stolen from UCLA, a spokesman said Wednesday.

Jerry Leaf, who keeps an office at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation laboratory in Riverside, was expected to remain on leave with pay for at least 15 days, UCLA spokesman Richard Elbaum said.

Leaf, who works in the medical center's division of thoracic surgery on the Westwood campus, has been identified as the person who severed the head of 83-year-old Dora Kent after she died at the Alcor lab on Dec. 11. A Riverside County coroner's investigation of Mrs. Kent's death prompted the search that resulted in seizure of property at the lab, authorities said.

Leaf, who is a member of the Alcor foundation, which freezes heads and bodies in hopes that a medical breakthrough will someday allow them to be reanimated, could not be reached for comment. Alcor officials have insisted that the equipment in question was bought at UCLA surplus sales.

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