9/11 letter reaches family 10 years later

“84th floor, West Office, 12 people trapped.” Those are the seven words Randy Scott scribbled on a scrap of paper on September 11, 2001, after United Airlines Flight 175 struck Two World Trade Center floors away from where Scott was working at Euro Brokers Inc.

The blood-stained note, which drifted to the street from the building’s 84th floor, has brought both pain and insight to Scott’s devastated family, who believed the 48-year-old died instantly, a decade after the Twin Towers fell.

Relatives make a copy of their niece's name, who worked at the World Trade Center, and was killed during the attacks. Pics/AFP

“I spent 10 years hoping that Randy wasn’t trapped in that building,” said Scott’s wife, Denise from her home in Stamford. “And then you get this ten years later. It just changes everything.”

Denise learned of her husband’s note in August 2011 when she was contacted by Dr Barbara Butcher, chief of staff and director of Forensic Investigations at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York.

The 57-year-old said that she immediately asked Dr Butcher what they had found, knowing that the office contacted families when they found fragments of victims.

Mourning for their loss: The One World Trade Center lights up on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

 “She said, ‘No, it’s not a fragment. It’s something written’,” Denise said. “And that’s when I just fell apart.” Someone had found the note on the street amidst the chaos downtown on September 11 and handed it to a Federal Reserve Bank of New York guard, who was just about to alert authorities to the letter when Two World Trade Center came crashing down right before his eyes.

“He went to radio, and the building was gone,” Denise explained. “The building collapsed.” The scrap of paper eventually passed from the Federal Reserve to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, which collaborated with the medical examiner’s office to identify the spot of blood as belonging to Scott.

 Pictures of loved ones killed in the attacks are displayed at the National September 11 Memorial Museum's memorial exhibition.

“The minute I saw it I didn’t need to see the DNA test,” she said. “I saw the handwriting. It’s Randy’s handwriting.” The letter, which Jan Ramirez, chief curator of the September 11 Museum, calls ‘exceptionally rare,’ will be displayed at the museum.

Denise asked the museum to delay exhibiting the letter until she told her daughters, Alexandra, Jessica and Rebecca, of its existence.

Denise said she couldn’t find the right time to tell them until this January, after her own father died. “I was bawling, because I recognised his handwriting,” Rebecca said.

Memorial comes at a steep price
The National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center is an awesome spectacle that moved and inspired some 4.5 million visitors in its first year. But all that eye-welling magnificence comes with a jaw-dropping price tag. The foundation that runs the memorial estimates that once the roughly $700 million project is complete, the memorial and museum will together cost $60 million a year to operate. The anticipated cost has bothered some critics and raised concerns even among the memorial's allies

Taliban taunts US with defeat on 9/11 anniversary
The Taliban has taunted the United States with the prospect of “utter defeat” in Afghanistan, marking the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that saw US troops invade to bring down the militia’s repressive regime. The anniversary itself was muted in Afghanistan, where US and NATO troops organised only small ceremonies to commemorate the deaths of nearly 3,000 people in the worst terror strike on US soil. 

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