After a long court battle, the family of Dr. Sneha Philip is feeling some closure. The New York medical examiner’s office has finally concluded that she must have died in the twin towers, and restored her name to the list of official victims of the terror attacks (thanks, Art Vandalay).
Her name had been removed from the list in 2006, after a judge found that there was no conclusive evidence she had been in the towers on 9/11. She did not work there, but she and her husband did live a block away. She’s seen on a video camera, buying shoes at Century21, on the evening of September 10. The problem is, she did not come home that evening. When investigators began looking into her activities more closely, they discovered that this wasn’t entirely unusual — Sneha Philip often went out to bars, and sometimes spent the night at the homes of “strangers unknown to her husband.” The judge in 2006 seemed to think that as a result there wasn’t enough evidence that she was in the area — and that it’s speculation to say that she voluntarily went into the towers after the planes hit to try and help people.
The most detailed study of Ron Liberman and Sneha Philip’s story, along with evidence for and against the idea that she died in the Twin Towers on 9/11, is here, in a long article in New York magazine. I would strongly recommend reading it.
I hesitated posting on this a little, because I’m not really into gossip about people’s private miseries — Sneha Philip and Ron
Philip’s Liberman’s lifestyle, and the nature of their marriage, isn’t really our concern. And the fact that Sneha Philip seems to have had some alcohol issues doesn’t mean she wouldn’t have tried to use her skills and knowledge to help people on the morning of September 11.
Two tidbits worth keeping in mind: the 9/11 victim’s fund is closed, which means there’s no financial benefit to Ron Philip or Sneha’s parents in Albany. Secondly, there’s at least one other case of someone for whom there’s no proof he was in the towers on 9/11 being included on the list — Juan Lafuente called his mother on September 8, telling her that he was starting a job three blocks from the WTC, and was never heard from again. There is no forensic or direct evidence he was there, but his name has remained on the list.