9/11 families battle over unidentified remains

April 3, 2011 4:02:42 PM PDT
Some relatives of victims who died a decade ago at the World Trade Center are decrying a plan to place more than 9,000 unidentified pieces of human remains at the site of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

Family members and supporters gathered Sunday just steps from ground zero to lobby New York City officials to alter plans for the museum.

It is a flashpoint for some 9/11 families, where to house the remains of the victims.

The city wants to store the thousands of fragments in a private area of the future 9/11 museum so that experts can keep testing the pieces in their ongoing effort to identify and return the human parts.

But a group of families spoke out on Sunday demanding the remains be stored in a memorial above ground for all to see and remember.

"Now they're going to bury them back down in that hell hole? Absolutely not," Rosemary Cain, mother of a 9/11 victim, said.

That basically sums up the outrage from these 9/11 families.

They are fighting for their loved ones' remains.

Almost ten years later, there are still more than 9,000 pieces of human fragments that have yet to be identified.

Plans are to house those remains in a repository within the still to be built 9/11 museum in a quiet and somber area seven floors below ground.

It would only be open to family members.

But these families detest that plan.

They want something dignified and permanent, above ground and they want to be consulted on such emotional decisions.

Jimmy McCaffrey, brother-in-law of a 9/11 victim said, "Family members need genuine and real consultation and until that happens, those precious souls cannot rest in peace."

"This is just an obscene thing, to put human remains in a museum and you would put them in the bottom, behind some concrete wall," said Maureen Santora, mother of a 9/11 victim.

For these families it has not been a decade of healing and closure.

Almost half the victims from the towers were never found not even a trace.

So the 9,000 unidentified body parts are something these families cling to desperately and possessively.

"I could not save my son on 9/11. This is the last battle that I will be able to wage in honor of my son," Sally Regenhard said.

The museum has a website which details the plans for the remains so the repository is not a secret.


Museum officials say they are trying to be as respectful as possible to the families, especially in such emotional decisions.

The families, meanwhile, have not ruled out the possibility of a lawsuit.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.