The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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May 9, 2014

Scientists still working to ID victims from 9/11

(Continued)

NEW YORK —

Four new identifications were made this past year.

Family members have long endorsed the ongoing identification process, even as some protested this weekend's move of the remains to the museum site, which they fear could be prone to flooding.

"Don't put them in the basement," Rosemary Cain, who lost her firefighter son at the trade center, said at a protest Thursday. "Give them respect so 3,000 souls can rest in peace."

Other families support the move, saying the repository is a fitting site for the remains.

"It will show the world the way we treat our dead," Lee Ielpi, who lost his son in the attacks, said earlier in the week. "Let's get them back to the site."

By December, the latest technology will have been applied to every remnant in the medical examiner's possession, exhausting the available methods.

The question is: How long and at what cost will the forensic team keep working to identify these last 9/11 remains? The team's annual salary budget is $230,000, plus costs for follow-up work by other scientists and staff.

Desire said that as new technology becomes available, the efforts to identify the fragments will continue indefinitely.

Charles Strozier, founding director of the Center on Terrorism at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said that work must continue "because our relationship to the Sept. 11 disaster hinges on being able to identify and pay respects to those who died."

For Desire, it's not just a grim scientific task — it's personal.

He was under the still-standing towers minutes after the two hijacked planes hit them, having rushed down with the then-chief medical examiner, Dr. Charles Hirsch. As the towers toppled, the men were struck and bloodied by falling glass and debris.

"It's a service and an honor, working on something that has transformed American history," he said.

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Associated Press writer Karen Matthews contributed to this report.

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