I hope you all enjoyed a safe and happy 4th of July. It is a holiday I have always enjoyed and hold fond memories of, especially since it is another great excuse to barbeque while enjoying friends and family!
Another memorable day is the terrorist attack on September 11th, 2001. On that day nearly 3,000 people were killed at the World Trade Center in NYC, the Pentagon and in a hijacked plane that crashed in an open Pennsylvania field as a group of heroic passengers engaged terrorists to avert a greater loss of lives.
Today, the whereabouts of many people not yet identified as casualties leaves an open wound for many families.
Several months ago, I was contacted by Jon Walczak, a podcaster and host of the iHeartRadio program – Missing on 9/11. https://www.iheart.com/podcast/1119-missing-on-9-11-83089219/
His podcast examines the case of Sneha Anne Philip, an Indian American physician who disappeared a day before the terrorist attack in New York City.
Original photo of Philip (left). Age progressed image of Philip (right) created by Michael W. Streed
From Wikipedia – Philip was last seen on September 10, 2001, by a department store surveillance camera near her Lower Manhattan apartment. She may have returned to the building at some point that night or the next morning. Due to the proximity of the World Trade Center and her medical training, Philip’s family believes she perished trying to help victims of the following day’s terrorist attacks.
Two investigations were conducted. The first by Ron Lieberman, Philip’s husband, and private investigator Ken Gallant, a former FBI agent, initially presumed her disappearance and possible death were unrelated to the attacks but later concluded it was the most likely outcome. An investigation by the New York City Police Department, begun much later, delved into her life leading up to September 11 and found details of marital problems, job difficulties, and alcohol abuse by Philip, as well as a pending misdemeanor charge against her, in the months before her disappearance. This led them to conclude it was just as likely that she had met a different fate, though the report’s author testified later that he believed Philip probably died in the attacks.
Lieberman and Philip’s family have strongly disputed some of the facts and many of the conclusions of the police report, insinuating that the police did poor work or even fabricated some of their evidence. Philip’s family have pointed out that there are many other 9/11 victims whose remains were never found, and other victims who were added to the list despite equally tenuous connections to the attack. No physical evidence has been found to suggest that Philip was killed in the attacks.
Citing the evidence from the police report, a Surrogate’s Court judge had denied her family’s petition to have her declared a victim of the attacks, suggesting it was equally possible she may have intentionally disappeared or been murdered by someone she met on her frequent nights out. However, on January 31, 2008, a New York State appeals court overturned a lower court ruling and declared that Philip had been a victim of the attacks, officially making her the 2,751st victim of the Twin Towers’ collapse.
The question is – did Sneha die in the Twin Towers collapse? Or was the tragedy her excuse to disappear and begin a new life? My suggestion
My suggestion? Listen to Missing on 9/11 and decide for yourself.
The request to create an age-progressed image of Sneha is not unusual for me. I often receive requests from families of long-term missing persons or those who passed away too soon. I am always glad to help in those cases to provide a glimpse of what might have been. Sometimes I do more than help police identify and arrest violent criminals.
Listen to the podcast and let me know what you think happened to Sneha. I am interviewed in one of the episodes, so it was nice to have a small part in helping solve this mystery. Perhaps Sneha’s still out there. Maybe she will even see my age progression photo and reach out to someone. Stranger things have happened.
Let me finish by teasing an upcoming course – “So, You Want to Be a Forensic Artist?” More details are coming soon. In the meantime, stay safe, be well and we will do this again next month!
For now, sharpen that lead and keep on sketching!