Getting Away With Murder
September 11, 2001, is a day Americans will never forget. Over three thousand people were murdered that day in New York City. A tragedy unlike any other we have ever witnessed.
And while the world was grieving the loss of loved ones and strangers, a select few chose to cover up their own evil murders under the guise of the attack on the towers.
Dr. Sneha Philip
Dr. Sneha Philip was an emergency room doctor living in Battery Park City, New York, who went missing in the wee hours of September 11, 2001, long before the first plane hit the North Tower.
On September 10, Dr. Philip had the day off and went out to breakfast with her husband, Rob Lieberman, also a doctor. At approximately 11:30 a.m., he went off to work, and she went home to do housework. Later that day, surveillance cameras caught her shopping at a store across the street from the World Trade Center, but she never returned home.
After his shift at the hospital ended, Dr. Lieberman arrived home at 11:15 p.m., and his wife wasn’t there. Apparently, it wasn’t unusual for his wife to go out with friends for dinner and drinks and not return home until the next morning.
In a sad and strange coincidence, Sneha Philip vanished in lower Manhattan the night before one of the most tragic events in American history, in which thousands were suddenly gone, many of whom were never found.
Dr. Lieberman’s assumption she was either at her brother’s or cousin’s house was one I can’t seem to fathom, especially since he never admitted to trying to phone her until after he heard about a plane hitting the towers.
On September 11, at 6:45 a.m., Dr. Lieberman boarded a subway and headed into work. When he heard about the first plane hitting the Twin Towers, he tried to phone his wife, but she didn’t answer. Running back to his apartment building, he could not get in due to the doors being chained. However, a neighbor told him his wife wasn’t in the building.
Her last communication was with her mother via instant message at 2:30 p.m. on September 10. Security camera video shows her leaving the apartment a few hours later at 5:15 p.m. An employee verified he remembered seeing her go at that time.
Credit card purchases for $500 showed up around 7:15 p.m. at a designer discount department store across from the World Trade Center, where she bought bed linens, lingerie, and three pairs of shoes. After that, there is no trace of her. In the video, she is seen carrying two large bags of merchandise. However, they were not found at the apartment.
Ron distributed missing person flyers around where she was last seen. A shoe clerk reported seeing Sneha with another woman that night. Sneha said she was a friend of hers, but the woman has never come forward. Because NYPD was too busy with the 9/11 attacks, Ron hired a private investigator to help track down anyone who may have seen Sneha after leaving the store.
Several questions remain unanswered in this case: Where did Sneha stay the night of September 10 if she wasn’t with her brother or cousin? Did she leave the department store with this mysterious friend, and did she stay with her? If this is true, why has the woman never come forward?
Theories suggest she met with foul play after she left the store. Yet another is that she went across the street to the Millennium Hotel Bar and may have died there during the attacks. Friends and family believe finding the mystery woman who was last seen with Sneha is the key to solving her disappearance.
In June 2002, an episode of Unsolved Mysteries aired her disappearance. Initially, a New York court ruled Sneha’s date of death was September 10. Though listed as a victim of the 9/11 attacks, in 2004, her name was removed from the list of 9/11 missing. According to NYPD investigators, they had found evidence suggesting she was living a double life. They claim she and Ron were having marital problems, and she may have been having affairs with other women.
The last time Ron saw her was when they fought outside a courthouse where she had pled not guilty to filing a false complaint against a colleague. (But I thought he initially said they had breakfast together?) The investigators also believe she had an apparent drug and alcohol issue, which led them to believe she had left to start a new life.
In Surrogate’s Court proceedings, the missing woman’s court-appointed guardian, Ellen Winner, raised red flags about Philip’s vanishing and lifestyle. Winner wrote Philip had frequented bars and spent the night with strangers and her job at Cabrini Medical Center in Gramercy Park was in jeopardy.
Lieberman, who had been married to Philips for only a year, acknowledged he and his wife had an unusual relationship, but there was no evidence his wife’s nights out involved any risky behavior, even though many times she would not arrive home until 8:00 or 9:00 a.m. in the morning.
The Surrogates Court Judge ruled Philips’s death to be September 10, 2004, three years after she was last seen.
Her family refused to believe this. No evidence was found on her devices suggesting she was planning to start a new life, and the family claims much of the ‘evidence’ uncovered by the police was incorrect.
In 2008, the decision of the New York court was overturned by the state Appellate Division. The court dismissed the double life claims and rejected the claims she was abusing drugs and alcohol, noting those sources were not credible. The court also determined Sneha most likely died helping injured people at the World Trade Center.
She is now listed as a victim of the 9/11 attacks. Her husband and family consider the new ruling a great comfort for them, knowing she died during the attacks. Her remains have never been found. Though entitled to $3 million from a federal Victim’s Compensation Fund, Lieberman’s earlier application was rejected, and the fund is now closed.
Henryk Siwiak, a Polish immigrant, was fatally shot in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., on September 11, 2001, and was the only homicide reported in New York outside of the World Trade Center attacks on that day.
In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Siwiak’s death was lost in the shuffle. The NYPD was stretched thin and could only offer a feeble response when Siwiak was shot. To this day, no one knows who killed Siwiak. His case remains unsolved, and he is popularly remembered as the last man murdered on 9/11.
Henryk was born in Krakow, Poland, in 1955. He was an inspector for the Polish National Railroad, and he married a scientist named Ewa and had two children.
In 2000, Henryk was fired from his inspector job. With Poland’s economy in shambles and a 15-percent unemployment rate, his ability to find work was near impossible. He decided to move to NYC in search of the American Dream and money for his family.
Siwiak struggled with English but was able to find odd jobs in construction. He lived in Far Rockaway, Queens, with his sister, who had emigrated six years prior.
On September 11, 2001, Siwiak was working at a construction site, and even though he saw the first plane hit the towers, he couldn’t afford to stop working for the day. After crossing the Brooklyn Bridge on foot, he went home and contacted a temp agency to see if he could find work for that day. They gave him a cleaning job at a Pathmark grocery store. He was to be there at midnight.
When he spoke to his wife in Poland, she encouraged him not to go out that night. But he was determined to finish his day of work. After going over a map with his landlord, he set off for the Pathmark store off of Albany Avenue. But the landlord directed him toward Albany Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant, three miles away from where he wanted to go. This mistake proved fatal to Henryk.
He exited the Fulton Street subway stop at 11:00 p.m. dressed in his favorite camouflage jacket. His family believes he posed a threat with his inability to speak English and accent when he asked someone for directions. That area of Bedford-Stuyvesant was a hotbed of narcotic activity and gang shootings at the time.
Police believe he encountered a group shortly before midnight and was shot once in the chest. He left a trail of blood as he tried to get help by ringing a doorbell. No one opened their doors in fear, and he lay dead on the street, face down, until someone called 911. They suspect a botched robbery is likely what sparked the incident. “He probably didn’t understand what was being said and couldn’t communicate himself to the people on the block,” said Detective Harvey from the NYPD.
There is a $10,000 reward offered for any information leading to the arrest of Henryk Siwiak’s killer, and Crime Stoppers is offering an additional $2,000. Henryk’s wife is bitter about how her husband’s murder has been handled. If an American had been killed in Poland, she feels no stone would go unturned until they found the killer. She is certain his killer will never be brought to justice.
Evil finds its way into people’s hearts, allowing them to perform unspeakable acts. Under the guise of an American tragedy, at least two people lost their lives. Of course, there are probably more cases such as these in other parts of the country.
One woman went missing on 9/11/01, and three years later, her husband was arrested for her murder. He claims it was the perfect backdrop to commit murder since most police departments were running with skeleton crews at the time.
Though I don’t have the transcripts to Dr. Lieberman’s claim his wife was “most likely trying to help people at the World Trade Center,” there is no definite proof she was there. I can see why the court’s hands were tied. How do you prove she was there when most people missing from the WTC buildings turned to dust? Law enforcement agencies were inundated with cases, not to mention going through their own grief of friends lost in this tragedy. What a perfect backdrop. I’d say this is a classic ‘getting away with murder’ case I’d ever read about.
In both cases, someone knows something and has refused to come forward for twenty years.
To all the victims on that fateful day and their families, you will forever be in my heart.
Rest in Peace.