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Williams siblings squabble in filings

Two of Ted Williams' children publicly scolded their half-sister in court motions Tuesday, accusing her of harassing a potential witness and refusing to work toward a compromise.

In the filing, John-Henry and Claudia Williams withdrew their request for mandatory mediation with their sibling, Bobby-Jo Williams Ferrell, saying it would be a waste of time and money.

"To be sure, with this Court's help, we can lead Mrs. Ferrell to the "river of reason,' but we can't make her "drink,' " said the petition, filed by Robert Goldman, John-Henry and Claudia Williams' Naples-based lawyer.

The relatives are feuding over the remains of their famous father, which were sent to an Arizona lab and cryonically frozen hours after his death July 5.

The next day, Ferrell launched a fight to retrieve her father's body from Alcor Life Extension Foundation and have it cremated. According to the Hall of Famer's 1996 will, he wanted to have his ashes "sprinkled at sea off the coast of Florida where the water is very deep."

Ferrell also said John-Henry Williams planned to profit from their father's cryonic preservation, perhaps by selling the slugger's DNA. The accusation was vehemently denied by Goldman.

John-Henry and Claudia Williams had been publicly cordial toward their older half-sister throughout most of the bizarre feud. Goldman even released a statement July 17 in which he called Ferrell a "good person trying to do her best in trying circumstances." He also expressed confidence a private solution could be reached.

But the tone had changed dramatically in Tuesday's court filing to Citrus Circuit Judge Patricia Thomas.

The two younger siblings charged Ferrell with "harassing and attempting to intimidate witnesses" because she left a telephone message at the home of Eric Abel, one of Ted Williams' lawyers and a family friend.

A transcript of the message is attached to the motion. According to the document, Ferrell called Abel, who, like Ferrell, lives in Citrus Hills, the night of July 6 and said: "Hello. This is Bobby-Jo Williams Ferrell, your neighbor behind you. I find it amazing, Mr. Abel, that you would make a statement, like that, about me, to the press, that's gone out into the Internet. Prepare thyself, sir!"

In the motion, Abel said the message made him and his family fearful that Ferrell would do something to harm them or their house.

John Heer, Ferrell's attorney, called Abel's statements inflammatory and exaggerated, and said his client would respond properly through legal channels.

Heer also offered an explanation:

He said his client contacted Abel the night of July 6 in an attempt to learn what had happened to her father's body. By then, Abel had already been quoted on ESPN.com as saying, "It is unfortunate that Barbara Joyce Ferrell has taken this moment to grab headlines."

"In spite of his willingness to make such comments to the media about Mrs. Ferrell, Mr. Abel was unwilling to provide Mrs. Ferrell or her attorney with any information regarding the status of her father's body," Heer said Tuesday in a statement.

When Ferrell demanded to know what had been done with her father's body, Heer said Abel replied: "Because Bobby-Jo has taken this matter to the press, John-Henry and Claudia have decided that she no longer has a right to know what has happened to her father or his body."

The siblings did not speak again until a July 15 mediation session, which was unsuccessful despite nearly 11 hours of discussion.

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