Monday, May 29, 2017

Mystery Monday: The 9-11 Disappearances

It's Monday, which means it's time for another...

If you ask Americans to name the darkest days in our nation's history, one day would definitely be toward the top of most lists:

As the nation sat glued to its TV screens, though, two people disappeared...and haven't been seen since. Michele Harris lived nearly four hours from Ground Zero in a rural town called Owega, New York.

She was a married mother of four, but she was in the process of going through a divorce. Her husband, Calvin, did not want the divorce despite the fact that they both had been unfaithful during their marriage.

On September 11, 2001, Michele worked her evening shift at Lefty's, a now-closed restaurant in Waverly, New York. She reportedly left work at 9:30 pm and was never seen again. The next day, her van was found on the shoulder of the road near the entrance to her driveway. The keys were still in the ignition.

Calvin has done his best to cast his late wife in a negative light, saying she was drinking and possibly using cocaine prior to her disappearance, despite there being no evidence of this. He also painted her as sexually promiscuous, trying to pin her disappearance on another man. But despite being twice convicted of her murder, Calvin is a free man, since both convictions have been overturned. Michele's disappearance remains unsolved.

Unlike Michele, Sneha Philip disappeared in New York City. The Indian-American physician was last seen on September 10, 2001, which was her day off. That morning, she spoke to her mom, saying she wanted to visit Windows on the World at the top of Building One at the World Trade Center. A friend was planning to get married there.

She left her apartment to go shopping at around 5:15 pm. Two hours later, a security camera at the Century 21 department store captured video of her shopping. She hasn't been seen since.

Sneha's husband, Ronald Lieberman, arrived home between 11 and 11:30 pm to find the apartment empty. He assumed she was spending the night with her brother or cousin, which was something she sometimes did when he was working late. He did not report her missing until the next day and by then, she was among a long list of people who were missing in New York City.

Sneha's husband believes she spent the evening with family and died while walking back to the apartment the next morning, since they lived near the World Trade Center. He also thinks she may have run into the disaster area to help, since she was a doctor. She may also have chosen to visit Windows on the World that morning for breakfast, where she became one of many victims. 

Others believe she may have chosen to escape her life. She'd recently filed a complaint against a coworker she believed touched her inappropriately. Law enforcement didn't believe her and when she refused to recant her accusation, they filed charges for a false complaint against her. Some also say she was involved substance abuse, although the family denies this and there are no indications of it.

Their disappearances may have been eclipsed in news media coverage by the events of September 11th, but both Michele and Sneha have captivated true crime fans in the years since. We may never know what really happened to either of them, but it's important to keep their stories in the media in case someone knows something.

What do you think happened to Michele and Sneha?