Possible human remains found in new 9/11 debris - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Possible human remains found in new 9/11 debris

Posted: Updated:
A lone firefighter moves through piles of debris at the site of the World Trade Center in New York. (AP Photo/Graham Morrison) A lone firefighter moves through piles of debris at the site of the World Trade Center in New York. (AP Photo/Graham Morrison)
NEW YORK -

Jim Riches pulled his son's mangled body out of the rubble at the World Trade Center, but the phone calls still filtered in years afterward. The city kept finding more pieces of his son.

"They'll call you and they'll tell you, 'We found a shin bone,'" Riches said. "Or: 'We found an arm bone.' We held them all together and then we put them in the cemetery."

Those are the phone calls both dreaded and hoped for among the families of Sept. 11 victims. And as investigators began sifting through newly uncovered debris from the World Trade Center this week for the first time in three years, those anxieties were renewed more than a decade after the attacks.

But there was also hope that more victims might yet be identified after tens of millions have been spent on the painstaking identification process. Two potential human remains were recovered on Monday, according to the medical examiner.

"We would like to see the other 40 percent of the families who have never recovered anything to at least someday have a piece of their loved one," Riches said. "That they can go to a cemetery and pray."

About 60 truckloads of debris that could contain tiny fragments of bone or tissue were unearthed by construction crews that have been working on the new World Trade Center in recent years. That material is now being transported to a park built on top of the former Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, where investigators will attempt to find any possible remains during the next 10 weeks, the city said. That's the material the two potential human remains were found in.

The city's last sifting effort ended in 2010. This time, crews were able to dig up parts of the trade center site that were previously inaccessible to workers, the city said.

Some 2,750 people died at the World Trade Center in the 2001 terrorist attacks, but only 1,634 people have been identified.

"We have been monitoring the World Trade Center site over time and monitoring the construction," said Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office. "And if they see any material that could possibly contain human remains, we collect that material."

About 9,000 human remains recovered from the ruins of the World Trade Center remain unidentified because they are too degraded to match victims by DNA identification. The remains are stored at an undisclosed location monitored by the medical examiner's office and will eventually be transferred to a subterranean chamber at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

Some victims' families expressed impatience that the city has only just uncovered more debris.

"Quite frankly, they should've excavated this and searched it 12 years ago," said Diane Horning, whose son, Matthew, died in the attacks. "Instead, they built service roads and construction roads and were more worried about the building and the tourism than they were about the human remains."

The city's efforts to identify Sept. 11 victims have long been fraught with controversy.

In April 2005, the city's chief medical examiner, Charles Hirsch, told families his office would be suspending identification efforts because it had exhausted the limits of DNA technology.

But just a year later, the discovery of human remains on a bank tower roof and then in a manhole near ground zero outraged families who said the search for their loved ones had been rushed initially. The findings prompted a renewed search that cost the city tens of millions of dollars and uncovered 1,500 pieces of remains.

Meanwhile, some victims' relatives sued the city over its decision to move 1.6 million tons of materials from the trade center site to the Fresh Kills landfill, saying the material might contain victims' ashes and should have been given a proper burial.

The lawsuit was dismissed, and unsuccessfully appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

As it embarks on combing through debris yet again, the medical examiner's office says it will keep monitoring the site as long as new areas are being dug or exposed.

Charles G. Wolf was pleased to hear about the renewed search, though he believes that his wife, Katherine, was vaporized during the attack. Investigators have never found her remains.

Years ago, it bothered him that he had no grave to visit. Wolf said the opening of the Sept. 11 memorial has filled a hole in his heart, but he'll never have closure.

"You heal. You carry on," he said. "It's not closure."


Associated Press Writer Jennifer Peltz contributed to this report.

 

  • Floydfest attracts people from all walks of life

    Floydfest attracts people from all walks of life

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 11:26 PM EDT2014-07-24 03:26:58 GMT
    FloydFest 13 kicked off on Wednesday. Thousands of people from different walks of life will attend various events. Some come to the music festival to escape the monotony of everyday living."
    FloydFest 13 kicked off on Wednesday. Thousands of people from different walks of life will attend various events. Some come to the music festival to escape the monotony of everyday living."

  • Senate agrees on $11B highway funding measure

    Senate agrees on $11B highway funding measure

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 11:48 PM EDT2014-07-24 03:48:54 GMT

    The Senate agreed Wednesday on an $11 billion measure to temporarily fix a multibillion-dollar shortfall in federal highway and transit programs, setting up a vote next week on several alternatives.

    The Senate agreed Wednesday on an $11 billion measure to temporarily fix a multibillion-dollar shortfall in federal highway and transit programs, setting up a vote next week on several alternatives.

  • Funeral held for man who died in NY police custody

    Funeral held for man who died in NY police custody

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 11:34 PM EDT2014-07-24 03:34:31 GMT
    An overflow crowd packed a church on Wednesday night for the funeral of a man who died in police custody after an officer placed him in an apparent chokehold.
    An overflow crowd packed a church and sang songs on Wednesday at the funeral of a man who died in police custody after an officer placed him in an apparent chokehold.
  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • Teen mom charged after baby found buried at Louisburg home

    Teen mom charged after baby found buried at Louisburg home

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 11:44 PM EDT2014-07-23 03:44:25 GMT
    Ashley Reed, 16, of Louisburg is charged with concealing a death after her infant was found buried beside her house.
    Ashley Reed, 16, of Louisburg is charged with concealing a death after her infant was found buried beside her house.
  • Largest companies by revenue in each state

    Largest companies by revenue in each state

    Thursday, July 10 2014 8:01 PM EDT2014-07-11 00:01:10 GMT
    Broadview Networks recently decided to find out the biggest -- by revenue -- company in each state in the US.The company used the Fortune 500 list to start with, but needed data by state, so it turned to Hoover's.With data from that company, they were able to search through each state's list of companies and then find the largest -- by revenue.Just flip through the list above and see who is the biggest in each state, what town they are based and their revenue.
    Broadview Networks recently decided to find out the biggest -- by revenue -- company in each state in the US.The company used the Fortune 500 list to start with, but needed data by state, so it turned to Hoover's.With data from that company, they were able to search through each state's list of companies and then find the largest -- by revenue.Just flip through the list above and see who is the biggest in each state, what town they are based and their revenue.
  • Couple arrested for having sex on Cortez Beach in front of beachgoers

    Couple arrested for having sex on Cortez Beach in front of beachgoers

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 1:08 PM EDT2014-07-22 17:08:35 GMT
    Bradenton Beach police officers were dispatched to Cortez Beach after a few people called 911 and complained about a couple having sex publicly, right next to a little girl on the beach.
    Bradenton Beach police officers were dispatched to Cortez Beach after a few people called 911 and complained about a couple having sex publicly, right next to a little girl on the beach.
Powered by WorldNow

WSLS 10, P.O. Box 10
Roanoke, VA 24022-0010

Telephone: 540.981.9110
Fax: 540.343.3157
Email: news@wsls.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.