9/11 Forensics: Victim & Hijacker Identification

Main 9/11 Links Page

Related: Ground Zero Cleanup, Fresh Kills Recovery Operations

Flight 93
Remains from every victim were recovered and positively identified.

Recovery workers pledge to respect dignity of victims (Sept. 14)
1500 remains found ("Hallowed Ground" Wash. Post)
Four Flight 93 Victims ID'd (Sept. 22)
Coroner identifies seven more victims of Flight 93 crash (Sept. 24)
Further four identified by DNA (October 10 )
Further fourteen identified by DNA (October 27)
Final Flight 93 Victims ID'd (December 22)

Flight 93 victim identification long, arduous
Info about Paul Sledzik, who led the Flight 93 forensics team, and Dr. Dennis Dirkmaat, who was chief scientific advisor to Somerset County Coroner Wallace Miller
Paul Sledzik Flight 93 Pathologist NMHM Museum
Flight 93 victims' effects to go back to families
DMORT Forensics Jan 2002 Newsletter Text

The Pentagon

“Summary Presentation of damage to Pentagon and location of bodies found inside.“ (PC download)

All but five Pentagon victims identified

Profile: Armed forces DNA Identification laboratory

Forensic feat IDs nearly all Pentagon victims

The remains of every flight 77 victim but one (a two-year-old) were recovered and positively identified by forensics experts. Personal effects of many survived the crash and fires and were returned to the victims' families. Articles on Pentagon disaster morgue operations and victim identification:

Victim ID 1Victim ID 2 and Personal effects found Pentagon mortuary affairs artifacts

Hijacker Identification & DNA
The only two brothers who died at the Pentagon on 9/11 were hijackers Nawaf and Salem al-Hamzi. Remains of two brothers were identified by DNA: "The DNA results strengthened the hypothesis that two of the terrorists were brothers, as indicated by other evidence. Two of the terrorist STR profiles aboard the AA Flight 77 gave a sibling index greater than 500. To further test the hypothesis of maternal relatedness, AFDIL sequenced the HVI and HVII regions of mtDNA for these individuals. The sequences generated did match in HVI and HVII, which is consistent with a maternal relationship between the two men."http://www.cstl.nist.gov/div831/strbase/pub_pres/Edson2004.pdf (p. 83)

WTC: How many missing? How many dead?
Taking Account of the Dead, Feeling Weight of History ($ NYT Oct. 6, 2001)

...This week, though, the officials in charge of tracking the dead and the missing said they think they are closing in on what they regard as a responsible final total. They now have detailed reports on about 4,000 people who are presumed to have died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. And while they may not release a final count for a few weeks, they now expect the final list of fatalities to include 4,500 to 5,000 people.
"I don't believe you'll see dramatic reductions in the numbers we have now,'' Deputy Mayor Joseph J. Lhota said. ''We are monitoring it every day. We are trying to make it as scientific as possible.''
...The city's police officers entered the different lists of names into a single computer. With speculation quickly flaring after it was learned that the city had 30,000 body bags available, Mr. Giuliani sought to reassure the public with the city's first estimate, released on Sept. 13. It put the missing count at 4,763.
But hundreds of new reports were still pouring in from police departments, relief workers, tenants and particularly foreign nations. By Sept. 18, the count of the missing had ballooned to 6,030; two days later it reached 6,333. By Sept. 24, it had hit 6,453.

Associated Press - January 9, 2002
City officials are close to determining a final count of the people who were killed in the attack on the World Trade Center, police said Wednesday. The city's total has stood at 2,893 for three days, decreasing from near 7,000 in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11 attacks. Officials eliminated mistakes and duplicated entries in missing-person reports, and the tally could still be reduced further, said police department Chief Charles Campisi, who heads the effort. "We're very, very close," Campisi told The Associated Press. "I would say we're 99 percent there."

Victim Identification and Management Following the Collapse of the World Trade Center Towers

NYC Medical Examiner summary of vital stats 2002

More than Half of Victims IDd (September 11, 2002)
Excerpt: "DNA extractions were done on every one of the 19,906 remains, and 4,735 of those have been identified. As many as 200 remains have been linked to a single person. The 1,401 people identified include 45 of those aboard the hijacked planes - 33 from Flight 11, which struck the north tower, and 12 from Flight 175, which hit the south tower."
New York Settles on a Number That Defines Tragedy: 2,749 Dead in Trade Center Attack ($ NYT January 23, 2004)

NYC Office of Chief Medical Examiner Stats: April, 2006

NIST: WTC Location of decedents

Where Death Takes no Holiday (NYC OME)

Robert Shaler, Director of Forensic Biology Dept., NYC OME: "Lessons Learned: DNA Identification of Victims of the World Trade Tower Attack" Audio Transcript

Robert Shaler: Who they Were (WNYC Leonard Lopate audio)

WTC Recovery Issues
FEMA Urban Search & Rescue FAQ

Urban Search & Rescue at the WTC (Photos)
Recovery issues Facing Criticism, the City Again Adds Firefighters to the Search ($ NYT Nov. 16, 2001)
NPR audio: The Forensics of Working at Ground Zero
In the Ongoing Search for Bodies, Hope Is Derived From the Horror (12 bodies in NT stairwell, 4 levels down. $ NYT Dec 7, 2001)

Still Digging for Lost Sons After a Million Tons of Pain ($ NYT January 8, 2002)

"The father comes to be near his son. He digs through the smoking steel with a small Army pick and shovel. 'Where are you, boy?'' he asks. It has been the same routine for months. The search by Bill Butler, a retired fire captain, has been futile so far."

Remains of 11 Firefighters Are Found at Trade Center ($ NYT March 13, 2002)
In Last Piles of Rubble, Fresh Pangs of Loss ($ NYT March 17, 2002)

Twenty More Bodies Recovered From Ground Zero - (New York Daily News, Mar 24, 2002)

Ground Zero rescue workers recovered 20 more bodies late Friday night and Saturday, bringing to at least 73 the number of remains found in the rubble of the World Trade Center this month. The bodies included nine firefighters, four Port Authority civilian employees, one Port Authority cop, one Emergency Medical Service worker, one court officer and four civilians.

Fire Dept. Has Pinpointed 700 New Human Remains ($ NYT March 26, 2002)

Recovery Workers Using Global Positioning Satellite Technology To Locate Human Remains - (New York Daily News, Mar 26, 2002) "It will show who was in what tower by the location of where they were found. I think it will be valuable," Pfeifer said.Graphic: PRECISE POSITIONING Firefighters at Ground Zero have been using a hand-held global positioning system device to map the location of remains they find at the 16-acre site. The device sends a signal to three satellites circling the Earth and then receives the map coordinates of each find. The Fire Department's Phoenix Unit has built a computer database with nearly 4,000 entries that places each find at Ground Zero within a 75-by-75-foot block on a grid. As of Nov. 30, firefighters had pinpointed 587 body parts - 144 belonging to firefighters and 443 to civilians - using GPS, according to the department's database. The fragments were packaged and tagged. Tag numbers are tracked by the medical examiner's office as it matches remains to DNA samples.
As of early this month, firefighters had recorded coordinates for fragmentary remains of more than 1,750 civilians and 270 firefighters. Sixty-nine personal items tagged included a suitcase, a laptop, a woman's wig and a British passport. About 340 body parts found in the first weeks after Sept. 11 have no GPS coordinates."
Sifting the Last Tons of Sept. 11 Debris ($ NYT May 14, 2002)
Work by investigators at The Hill, makeshift village at Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island created out of necessity after September 11 terrorist attacks to sift debris from collapsed World Trade Center, is ending with only 25,000 tons of material left to be carted from Lower Manhattan; investigators, mostly New York City police officers, have sorted through 1.6 million tons of material; have uncovered more than 4,100 body parts and helped identify more than 150 victims.
Victims' Remains Found Near Ground Zero (130 Liberty, 130 Cedar, 90 West) ($ NYT June 8, 2002)
City and (Deutsche) Bank Agree on Plan To Sift Through 9/11 Debris ($ NYT June 15, 2002)

Last 4 Firefighters Leave Ground Zero: 'Our Work Is Done' ($ NYT June 25, 2002)

"Collapse SAR operations related to earthquakes and terrorist attacks frequently last days or weeks. They require round-the-clock operations to locate and extract all victims within the window of survivability, and to recover the dead in a timely manner. Emergency officials should be planning to pull live victims from the rubble up to three weeks after catastrophic earthquakes, and they should be prepared to sustain nonstop search and rescue operations until all hope of locating viable victims has passed. The public has the right to expect this level of response to devastating quakes in the U.S." (from "Collapse Rescue Operations At The Pentagon 9-11 Attack: A Case Study" p. 13)

NYC DoH Fact Sheet on WTC Worker Exposure to Human Remains
Search Dog Photos

Closure: The Untold Story of the Ground Zero Recovery Mission by William Keegan (PAPD ret.)
Dead Center: Behind the Scenes at the World's Largest Medical Examiner's Office by Shiya Ribowsky
Who They Were: Inside the World Trade Center DNA Story: The Unprecedented Effort to Identify the Missing by Robert Shaler (Director, WTC DNA ID efforts)

Ground Zero: The Search Continues, 2006-2007
Workers uncover more remains at WTC site. 12 more underground areas to be examined, deputy mayor says.

Officials Try to Identify Sites Where Body Parts Still Lie ($ NYT Oct. 25, 2006)

"What makes this an exceptionally delicate issue is that more than 40 percent of the victims’ family members are still awaiting word, five years later, that something of their relatives has been recovered. To date, the chief medical examiner has been unable to identify the remains of 1,151 of the 2,749 victims of the attacks.

Remains of two 9/11 victims identified Nov. 2006 - CNN.com
More human Remains found Near World Trade Center Site (Jan 3, 2007)

Search for Remains Will Go Beneath an Asphalt Lot (St. Nicholas Church $ NYT Feb 1, 2007)

Landfill Has 9/11 Remains, Medical Examiner Wrote (NYT March 24, 2007)

Technical Issues
WTC: Probing the DNA of Death
American Laboratory: The sequence of structural events that challenged the forensic effort of the World Trade Center disaster (PDF)
DNA Science Pushed to the Limit In Identifying the Dead of Sept. 11 ($ NYT Glanz April 22, 2002)
At Limits Of Science, 9/11 ID Effort Comes to End ($ NYT April 3, 2005)
911myths.com on hijacker DNA profiles
Trade Center DNA identification effort creates new forensic tools
Naming the Dead: Confronting the Realities of Rapid Identification of Degraded Skeletal Remains (p. 82-84)
World Trade Center Disaster Identification Diary
9/11 Panel Makes Recommendations for DNA-Based Identification
Methods Developed to Identify Victims of the World Trade Center Disaster
Gene Codes and the WorldTrade Center
Advances in DNA Analyses Help Identify 9/11 Victims
Mass Fatality Incidents: a Guide for Human Forensic Identification
DNA Identification in Mass Fatality Incidents
Victim Management and Identification after the World Trade Center Collapse
9/11, The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology Responds

"Issues and strategies in the DNA identification of World Trade Center victims" Theoretical Population Biology, Volume 63, Issue 3, May 2003, Pages 173-178