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028 - The Disappearance of Sneha Ann Philip

[Case Evidence]

                Sneha Anne Philip was born on October 7th, 1969 in the south Indian State of Kerala, the thirteenth largest Indian state boasting a population of over 33 million inhabitants.  She was the second child born to parents Ansu and Philip, with an elder brother named Ashwin and, later, a younger brother named John.  It should be noted, John is referred to in multiple articles as Kevin, and I haven’t been able to fully confirm if one is a legal name and the other a preferred name, but for the sake of clarity, I will refer to him as John.  Early in her life, the family moved to the United States, first to Albany, New York and later settling in Hopewell Junction, a small hamlet in Duchess County with a population of just over 400.  Sneha was described as being a very creative young woman with an interest in writing, music and painting, for which she is said to have had talent.  Sneha was a remarkably intelligent woman, growing more curious and determined with each passing year.  She excelled in her studies and showed great promise and ambition, hoping to pursue a career in medicine, following in her father’s footsteps.

                 At the time of her disappearance, Sneha was thirty-one years old, standing 5’6” tall and weighing approximately 115 pounds.  She has black hair and brown eyes and a small mole on her left cheek.  Her ears are pierced and she wore contact lenses.  When she was last seen, Sneha was said to be wearing a knee-length, brown collared short sleeved shirt dress with buttons down the front, sandals, a beaded black and gold choker with a tear drop shaped cross pendent, a gold engagement ring with a diamond in the center, a gold wedding band with small diamonds studded around it and earrings with diamond studs in flower shapes.

                In 1991, Sneha graduated from Johns Hopkin’s University.  According to her close friend and classmate, Suzy Bagga, at the time Sneha was a Writings Seminar major with an interest in literature and poetry, but Sneha was also working to complete the necessary courses to gain entry to medical school.  Bagga, who would later serve as Sneha’s matron of honor during her wedding, described her as “Definitely the smartest person I knew at Hopkins.”  In 1995, Sneha enrolled in the Chicago School of Medicine where she would later meet and fall in love with the man who would become her husband, Rob Lieberman.  Ron was a native of Los Angeles, and was a year behind Sneha in med school.  Sneha wanted to graduate alongside of Ron, and in order to do so, she decided to take a year off from school during which time she traveled throughout Italy.  After taking this time away, Sneha returned to med school from which she and Ron graduated in 1999.  Following graduation, both received offers to do their residencies in New York City, with Ron going to Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx and Sneha to Cabrini Medical Center in Manhattan.

                Ron and Sneha rented an apartment in the East Village together, and in May of 2000 they were married in a traditional Indian Ceremony with touches of Judaism to honor both Sneha and Ron’s backgrounds.  The wedding took place in Duchess County, where Sneha had grown up, and as part of the ceremony, Ron presented Sneha with minnu, a traditional Indian wedding pendant shaped like a teardrop with a diamond set in it.  Shortly after the wedding, Ron and Sneha moved into a new, larger, one bedroom apartment located in Battery Park City, in Manhattan.  For the next year, the marriage seemed to be going well, though Sneha began to show signs of emerging difficulties.  Her residency program with Cabrini Medical Center required her to successfully complete three years, but at the end of the second year, her contract was not renewed.  The reasoning behind not renewing was given as Sneha exhibiting tardiness and alcohol-related issues.

                Sneha, though, did not agree with these reasons and shortly after her removal from the program, she reported being inappropriately grabbed by a co-worker while she was out with friends.  This is a fairly controversial aspect of Sneha’s story, with many feeling that her dismissal from Cabrini was as a result of her spurning the co-worker who had groped her, while others have argued that the incident never took place and Sneha only filed the complaint after she was released.  Ron has stated in several interviews that he believes Sneha was dismissed as the result of her attempting to blow the whistle on sexual and racial harassment she was facing during her residency.  The Manhattan District Attorney was eventually involved and conducted an investigation into Sneha’s accusation.  Ultimately, the DA found that there was sufficient evidence to suggest that Sneha had manufactured the entire incident and she was charged with filing a false complaint.  Sneha was given the option of facing down the charges, or recanting her statement at which time the charges would be dropped.  Sneha refused to recant her statement, and as a result, spent a night in jail with a future court date pending.  The date of her next appearance was set to be September 10th, 2001.

                Following her dismissal from Cabrini, Sneha took up an internal medicine residency at St. Vincent’s hospital on Staten Island.  During her time at St. Vincent’s, Sneha was enrolled in an alcohol counseling program.  Shortly before her disappearance, she was suspended by one of her supervisors when she failed to attend one of the counseling sessions.  This act has led many to speculate that Sneha’s issues with alcohol were known to her employer, and that her attending the counseling sessions may have been part of the agreement when she was brought on as a resident, though there has been nothing stated nor released to confirm this.  Curiously, Sneha’s family denied that she had any kind of a drinking problem and have stated in several interviews that she voluntarily chose to attend the counseling sessions. 

                On the morning of September 10th, 2001, both Sneha had taken the day off in order to go to court.  Sneha was facing a misdemeanor charge of third degree falsely reporting an incident.  During the court appearance, Sneha entered a plea of not guilty.  Ron attended court with his wife, planning to go into work later that day.  According to a police report, Ron and Sneha got into an argument at the courthouse that morning.  In the report it states that Ron was upset because Sneha was “abusing drugs and alcohol and was conducting bisexual acts.”  According to this police report, following the argument, Sneha stormed out by herself.  Ron on the other hand, contradicts this statement saying that no such argument took place.  When asked about the report, Ron stated:  “Either I’m a liar or they’re lying, because I’m 100% positive about this.”

                According to Ron, following the court appearance, Sneha had plans of cleaning up the apartment and making preparations for a visit from her cousin which was to take place two days later.  Sneha and Ron went to breakfast together, with Ron heading to work afterward.  He was scheduled to work from 1pm to 9pm, though he left for work that day at 11am.  Later in the afternoon, between 1pm and 4pm, Sneha signed online and had a two hour instant message conversation with her mother.  According to Ansu, Sneha mentioned wanting to go to the “Windows on the World,” a restaurant situated on the 107th floor of the North Tower, World Trade Center building one.  According to the messages, Sneha had a friend who was planning to be married there and she wanted to check it out.  Whether or not she planned to do so that day, or later in the week, has never been firmly established.  Sneha signed off her instant messenger program at approximately 4pm.

                At approximately 5:18pm, Sneha is seen on surveillance footage exiting her apartment.  She proceded to drop off some laundry at a dry cleaners, and then went to Century 21, a discount department store located just a few blocks from her apartment, with the Twin Towers only a few more blocks away.  According to credit card records, Sneha swiped her American Express card shortly after 6pm, making a purchase of lingerie, a dress, pantyhose and bed linens.  She then left the department store, entering the Shoe Annex, located next door, and bought three pairs of shoes.  Sneha is last seen on security camera footage at 7:18pm carrying two large shopping bags.  An employee at the Shoe Annex claims that Sneha was not alone, and that she had been shopping with another woman of Indian decent who he claims Sneha referred to as her friend.  Ron would later pour over surveillance footage from Century 21 for several weeks.  He was unable to verify that there was in fact another woman with Sneha.

                Ron arrived home around midnight and found the apartment empty.  According to Ron, this wasn’t all that unusual as Sneha was known to go out late and to often times crash at the apartments of friend’s.  What he did find annoying, and unusual, is that Sneha had not contacted him to let him know she would be coming home late.  Many people close to the couple, and even police records from the investigation, have suggested that Ron and Sneha were having marriage difficulties at this time and that Sneha was, more often than not, choosing to stay elsewhere.  When pressed about his wife not being home, Ron replied that he assumed that she had “spent the night at her cousin Annu’s place a few blocks away or ended up in the West Village with her brother John.”

                According to several reports, John and Sneha were not talking at the time and had been embroiled in a bitter dispute.  A police report, alleged to have been written during an interview with John, claims that John had come home and walked in on his then girlfriend engaged in sexual acts with Sneha.  The report was taken by no retired NYPD detective Richard Stark, though John would later argue that not only did he make no such statement to the police, but that he also had never met nor spoken with Detective Stark.  Ron also joined in on this, saying that the incident itself had never taken place and that the Police had fabricated this, along with the information which alleged that he and Sneha had gotten into a loud argument after her court appearance.  For what reason the police would have fabricated this evidence, neither Ron nor John are sure.

                On the tragic morning of Tuesday, September 11th, at approximately 4am, telephone records indicate that the apartment phone was used to place a call to Ron’s cellphone.  Though Ron later claims he cannot remember this, he speculated that he may have called his own phone in order to check his voicemail.  Around 6am, Ron woke up and found that Sneha had still not returned home.  Ron was annoyed now, though not worried, and made a plan to talk to Sneha that evening about her lack of consideration for not calling him to tell him where she was.  He left the apartment and went down to the Bowling Green Subway station to catch the uptown 5 train to attend an 8am meeting at Jacobi Medical Center.  At approximately 8:40am, the surveillance camera of Sneha’s apartment caught a glimpse of a woman who strongly resembled Sneha.  She entered the building and moved toward the elevators, though the angle of the sun that morning struck the camera lens sharply and made the image difficult to decipher.  Just five minutes later, any semblance of a normal day was utterly destroyed when American Airlines flight 11 slammed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

                The attacks of September 11th sent a shockwave of fear, panic and chaos through the streets of New York.  People were scattered all over the city, public transit was on lockdown, bridges were shutdown and for many who worked in the city, but lived elsewhere, they were trapped or joined the long lines of hundreds who were walking across the bridges in desperate attempts to get home.  Due to the horror of the event, even cell phone calls became nearly impossible as not only were hundreds of thousands of people attempting to call to check on loved ones, but a large cell tower which was harbored atop the world trade center was destroyed in the violent collapse of steel and concrete.  People were all over the streets, disoriented and frightened, running every which way in hopes of finding safety or answers about friends and family members who they knew to be inside of the towers. 

                Ron came out of his meeting to find his co-workers watching the events unfolding on the television and immediately began trying to call Sneha.  She did not have a cell phone, so he placed several calls to their apartment, located only a few blocks from the World Trade Center.  He continually got his answering machine, leaving messages for Sneha which grew more and more panicked as each minute ticked by without contact from her.  He then placed calls to Sneha’s mother, and her brother John, though neither of them had yet heard from her that day.  Though Ron was aware of the tragedy taking place that day, he wasn’t immediately concerned about Sneha being in the world trade center.  As far as he knew, she had no business there and he considered it unlikely she’d have gone there.  As injured people began flooding in to New York hospitals, including Jacobi, Ron began getting more and more worried.  At 3pm, he decided to ride along in an ambulance that was heading down to the site.  Due to the gridlock of the streets, the panic and the mass number of people flooding out of building and running, this ambulance ride took a total of six hours.

                At approximately 9pm, Ron arrived in Tribeca where, still dressed in his scrubs, he was able to talk his way through police barricades and quickly ran to his apartment.  Unfortunately, the power had been knocked out completely and the electronic doors to the apartment building wouldn’t budge.  Unable to gain entry and without anything anyone could do to assist him, he went to a friend’s apartment located a few blocks away and spent the night on his couch, panicked and worried about Sneha.  The next morning, he was finally able to get into the building.  When Ron entered the apartment he found soot and ash scattered all over, having poured in from the collapse of the buildings through a window which had been left open.  In the dust he saw footprints from their cats, but no signs that Sneha had been there that day.  It was at this point in time that Ron knew something was desperately wrong and Sneha was missing.  Along with Sneha, there were over 9,000 people reported missing on September 11th.

                Ron and Sneha’s family began doing whatever they could to bring attention to her disappearance, unfortunately, news organizations lost interest when they were told that she hadn’t been seen since September 10th.  They were covering disappearances in the aftermath of the terror attacks and wanted to maintain their focus.  In frustration, Ron called John and asked him to come speak to reporters, but that it might work to their advantage to leave out the date of her disappearance.  John took things a step further, telling a complex lie, that he had been on the phone with Sneha during the attacks saying “I was on the phone with her, and she told me she couldn’t leave because people were hurt.  She said ‘I have to help this person’ and that’s the last thing I heard from her.”  The lie worked, and Sneha’s story and image were aired on national news, now that she had been depicted as someone who had possibly died trying to help others during the horrifying attacks.  When asked about this later, John worried that his statements may have confused investigators and inhibited the search, stating “Maybe if I didn’t do it maybe it would have gone another way.  It became a hero story.”

                According to Ron, upon filing two separate missing person’s reports, Police first ruled him out as a suspect and then chose to consider Sneha as someone who had gone missing in connection with the world trade center attacks.  Frustrated, Ron hired a private investigator, former FBI Special Operations Agent Ken Gallant.  Gallant argued that there was reason to believe Sneha may still be alive, if indeed she was not in the world trade center when it collapsed and began searching all of her local hangouts and questioning everyone he could find that knew or may have seen Sneha in the hours before she vanished.  He engaged in a forensic examination of her computer looking for any clues to indicate problems with someone, or possibly a secret lover, though he found nothing to support these theories. 

                Ron began to feel that it was unlikely that Sneha was the victim of a random crime, and may in fact have been killed in the terror attack.  In an interview he stated “These kinds of crimes don’t happen in Lower Manhattan, that somebody goes missing from a homicide, and they don’t find the body.  Killers are usually stupid, they leave clues.  A body will come up.  Sneha just vanished, vanished with no trace.  The only thing that makes sense is that she burned in the World Trade Center.”  While Ron and Gallant felt this was a likely scenario, the NYPD was embarking on their own investigation and finding clues which they believe suggested that Sneha may have been living a double life, one which may have led her into the arms of someone who may have killed her.

                According to police, Sneha was living a very different life from the one described by her husband and family.  Their investigation unveiled several secret aspects of her life.  According to police, Sneha and Ron were having intense marital troubles and Sneha had begun frequently spending her nights out, not coming home, and not staying with friends or family, but instead, people unknown to Ron who Sneha met at bars.  In addition to this, they found that three of Sneha’s most popular hangout spots were a lesbian bar called Julie’s, another known as Henrietta Hudon’s and a gay rock club called Meow Mix.  Police argued that there was a good chance that Sneha was bisexual and had been spending her nights with other women, though Ron and her family emphatically deny this.  In fact, Ron argued that his wife may have only felt comfortable around other women and homosexual men at this time as a result of her alleged sexual assault at the hands of a co-worker. 

                While Ron felt strongly that something bad had happened to Sneha, and that she was either abducted or murdered, the Police disagreed.  Considering the evidence at their disposal about Sneha’s substance abuse problem, her alleged bisexual affairs, her pending legal case and her dissatisfaction at home, investigators felt it was more likely that Sneha had elected to run from her problems.  It was impossible to rule out any theory, but police felt it more likely that on the night of the 10th, Sneha had been with a lover and had either chosen not to come back, using the attacks of September 11th as a camoflouge, that she could have committed suicide as a result of her issues or that she may in fact have been killed in the attack itself.  Ron and Sneha’s family vehemently disagreed, believing that if Sneha was gone it was not a choice she made of her own volition.

                Two years would pass, and no new information regarding Sneha would ever be discovered.  Her disappearance remained a baffling mystery and while her Husband and family struggled to accept this, they began to fight for Sneha’s name to be included amongst the victims of 911.  Ron filed a petition in New York’s County Surrogate Court in hopes of having Sneha declared an official victim of the attacks.  Judge Renee Roth, on June 29th, 2006, ruled that there was not enough evidence to establish that Sneha had died on September 11th, and instead set her legal date of death of September 10th. 

                Ron and Sneha’s family appealed this decision and on January 31st, 2008, a five-judge panel reversed judge Roth’s opinion finding that it was most likely that Sneha had perished in the attacks of September 11th.  Judge David Saxe wrote “Even without direct proof irrefutably establishing that her route that morning took her past the World Trade Center at the time of the attack, the evidence shows it to be highly probable that she died that morning, and at that site, whereas only the rankest speculation leads to any other conclusion.”

                The one dissenting judge on the panel, Bernard Malone Jr. wrote “Since it is not known where the decedent spent the night of September 10th, it requires speculation to say, as petitioner does, that her route home southwest of the World Trade Center took her across or dangerously near the World Trade Center grounds, or that at 8:48am when the attacks began she was even in the vicinity of the world trade center.”

                The 911 victim’s fund closed in 2003, which left Ron and Sneha’s family unable to receive any money as a result of her death.  Sneha’s name was officially added to the list of 911 victims, making her the 2,751st official victim of the attacks.  Over one thousand victims of the collapse of the world trade center were never recovered in the form of physical remains, and Sneha’s family buried an urn full of ashes from ground zero in a cemetery near their home.  Her family still believes that her choker could be recovered and sent photos of it to New York City’s property clerk, hoping that it will someday be matched to the hundreds of personal affects which were recovered from the site.  At the National 9/11 memorial pools, Sneha is memorialized at the South Pool, Panel S-66.

                Though, legally, it has been decided that Sneha was a victim of the terror attack and she has been enshrined as such, there are still many questions without answers and her family hope to one day discover the truth of what exactly became of her.  In a case such as this, with a disappearance occurring within twenty-four hours of the most devastating attack on American soil, there have been many theories and a great deal of speculation which has risen up in the years since Sneha walked out of her apartment building and vanished. 

                The first theory is that Sneha chose to leave, and the tragic events of 9/11 afforded her a cover by which she could simply walk away from her life without ever being found.  Many theorists, and even investigators on the case, have pointed to her alleged struggles with alcohol and unhappiness in her marriage as indicators that she may have chosen to simply vanish of her own accord.  Another theory, which ties into this, is the possibility that Sneha may have chosen not to disappear, but to have taken her own life.

                The third theory suggests that sometime between when she left the shoe store, and the attacks of 9/11, Sneha may have run into a yet unknown suspect and either been abducted or murdered.  If indeed Sneha was hanging out late at bars, and struggling with an alcohol problem, many have suggested it isn’t impossible to believe that she could have found herself with the wrong person or persons who may have taken her or taken her life.  Many point to the fact that no one had heard from her since the early evening hours of September 10th as an indicator that something happened to her that night, and the so-called friend who accompanied her during her shopping trip has never been officially identified, nor verified to have even existed.

                The final theory is the one for which the courts have decided to rule, that Sneha was ultimately a victim of the 911 terror attacks and died in the collapse of the world trade center.  Many point to the fact that Sneha had mentioned wanting to go to the Windows on the World restauraunt located in World Trade Center building one, and that her apartment was located only a few blocks away from the site of the attack.  Even if she had not entered the building, she could have lost her life in the collapse itself.  Sneha was a medical professional, and many have argued she may have gone down to the site in order to help and died as a result of the attack while trying to save the lives of others.  Indeed, though, this does raise the question of where Sneha had been for the previous twelve hours and where she spent the night of September 10th.

                The Disappearance of Sneha Ann Philip is a complicated story full of horror and tragedy.  The vanishing of one person is easy to lose in the chaos and confusion of the violent and terrifying attacks of September 11th.  So many lives were lost that day, and it is remembered as the darkest day in the history of the United States.  For Sneha’s family, those choose to believe that she perished in the attacks, doing what she could to help her fellow New Yorker’s.  Her husband, Ron, fought hard to ensure that her name was honored in conjunction with those who had perished that day and Sneha is forever linked with the nearly three thousand others whose lives were taken in moments of insanity and hatred.  We may never know for sure what truly became of Sneha Philip, but for many, it is a question which still haunts them and they someday hope to have the answer.

[Thoughts & Theories]

                The disappearance of Sneha Philip is a confounding mystery caught up in the backdrop of one of the most traumatic, deadly and chaotic days in the history of the United States.  In so many ways, what happened to Sneha has been, understandably, lost in the shuffle in the catastrophe that was the terror attack of September 11th.  I lived in New York for twenty-four years, and moved away in 2006.  I was three months out of high school on the morning of 9/11 and though I didn’t  live in Manhattan, I can certainly recall in vivid detail just how chaotic things became.  No one really understood what was happening, and if you had a loved one in Manhattan, it was impossible to get in touch or find out if they were all right.  Cell phones just sent you straight to voicemail, for the most part, and all we could do was watch in horror as the events unfolded and we watched the buildings come down and thousands of people running through the streets.  It was a horrifying day which will never be forgotten, and for so many thousands, it was their last day.  Sneha Philip was one name among many, but her story may not have ended at the World Trade Center that day.

                For her family, it brings them some semblance of peace to believe that she was lost trying to save lives as the towers came crashing down, though it is impossible to know for sure.  There are so many questions floating around about what could have happened to her, and though it has legally been decided that she died at ground zero that day, there is really no way to know for sure.  As a result of the confusion around her last twenty-four hours, there has been a great deal of speculation about what may have ultimately been her fate.  It’s a difficult question to try an answer, and when you consider everything else going on that day, to say it’s searching for a needle in a haystack is a simplistic way to describe it.  The disappearance of Sneha Philip is a mystery for which we may never have the exact answer, but there are certainly a number of theories that present the possible scenarios which may have led to her apparent vanishing. 

                The first theory, as is almost always the case when it comes to the disappearance of an adult, is that Sneha chose to leave and begin a new life elsewhere.  There is a lot of information which has been used to support this idea, but the problem is that it’s hard to know which details are facts and which are speculation.  The way in which the authorities point of view is so diametrically opposed to the family’s makes it hard to be certain.  The family paints a portrait of a woman who had gone through a difficult period in her life, but was doing well at this time.  Her husband, Ron, has said that they didn’t have any marital problems and that Sneha certainly didn’t have any issues related to alcohol.  The family also strongly denies any allegations which have been made about Sneha’s sexual preference or behavior.  Authorities believe that the marriage was experiencing turmoil, that Sneha did struggle with alcoholism and that she was engaging in sexual acts with other women, and possibly other men.  While the family’s perspective shows a hard working woman who, despite some struggles, was living a good life, the Police have illustrated a troubled woman facing difficult conflicts, including but not limited to being married while carrying on outside affairs and spiraling into an alcoholic lifestyle.  So which is the real Sneha?  Logic would dictate it’s probably somewhere in the middle.

                Frankly, many of these details are important only because they could open avenues in to possible scenarios of what happened to Sneha.  If she was seeing someone else, be it a man or a woman, that raises the possibility that she could have run off with this person.  If she was having a hard time and drinking too much then we have to question her state of mind and her decision making skills at that time.  If indeed the truth lies somewhere in the middle, then it isn’t hard to imagine Sneha could have been facing difficult decisions and may have been feeling confused or lost.  The problem, for me, with the idea that she would have run off to start a new life is that it would make complete sense that she didn’t want her husband to know where she was, but why would she have not contacted her family?  We know that on September 10th, one of her last points of contact was a two hour instant messenger conversation with her mother and, so far as we know, there was nothing said during that time to give the slightest hint that she was planning on running off somewhere.

                Sneha was pursuing a career as a doctor, she had a final year left to complete in her residency.  Would she simply walk away from her dreams as well?  That’s a hard question to answer, and we do know she had been suspended from work due to missing an alcohol counseling session, and on that last morning, she had entered a plea of Not Guilty in regard to charges of filing a false report about the sexual assault incident she reported.  Obviously this was a very trying and chaotic time, regardless of how strong a person you are, suspension from work, coupled with a pending legal battle can be extremely stressful and could certainly make someone want to disappear.  So, is it possible that Sneha simply chose to run off?  I believe so, but there is something bigger which makes me think this is highly unlikely.  Many people argue that the attacks of 9/11 provided Sneha with an ability to disappear, but I believe it was the terror attack itself which is the biggest argument against her running off.  Regardless of what was going on in her life, at that time, I find it incredibly unlikely that she wouldn’t have reached out to her family to let them know she was all right.  It’s one thing to move away, to begin again, but it’s very different to allow friends and family to believe you died in such a horrible and terrifying incident.  Though we cannot know for certain, I simply don’t believe that Sneha would have done this to those she loved.  It certainly must be considered, but I can’t follow this line of thought too closely.

                As a tie in to this theory, some have suggested that Sneha may have committed suicide.  For someone to be in a suicidal mindset, you have to acknowledge that they are not thinking logically and that whatever has brought them to that space is heavily influencing their behavior and thoughts.  Typically, mixing alcohol into a bad situation where someone may be depressed or stressed out is not a great combination, despite the typical Hollywood trope of having a drink when you’re feeling down, it isn’t a good idea.  Sneha certainly could have found herself in a bad situation and made the choice to take her own life, but if she did, I find it hard to believe that her body wouldn’t have been recovered.  It seems unlikely, if indeed she was not at the world trade center that day, that she could have committed suicide and gone undetected.  Yes, there are ways, and in the chaos of 9/11 there is the possibility that she could have done any number of things which others may not have noticed, but we also have to bare in mind that Sneha technically vanished on the 10th, or at least that is the day where we have the last confirmed sighting of her. 

                There really isn’t enough information about this possibility, other than it is something that has to be considered.  It’s incredibly difficult to try and get into what Sneha’s mindset may have been at this time, especially when all we have are conflicting opinions and accounts of her daily life and activities.  I certainly believe this is a possibility, though I consider it a slim one.  Sneha had gone out on the 10th, bought new clothes, new shoes and had plans made for future days.  These aren’t the typical activities of someone who has made the choice to take their own life, and in addition to that, no trace of her has ever been found.  Most suicidal people do not concern themselves with whether or not they are discovered, and don’t typically go to great lengths to conceal their bodies.  The one thing I considered most likely is that she could have jumped from a bridge that day, and in the ensuing chaos, no one was going to be searching the rivers.  In New York, though, it’s unlikely you’re going to leap from a bridge and it isn’t going to be seen.  This is all pure speculation, though.  I do consider it possible that Sneha committed suicide, but I do not consider this the most likely scenario.

                Another theory steps away from the idea that whatever happened to Sneha was by her own choice and instead examines the possibility that sometime between leaving the department store on September 10th, Sneha may have run into someone who either murdered or abducted her.  We know that after she walks out of the frame of surveillance cameras in the store, Sneha appears to vanish into thin air.  None of her friends or family reported being contacted by or seeing her after this time, which raises the question of where she was going and what she was doing that night.  It’s certainly curious that she would drop several hundred dollars of clothes and shoes, but never return home.  None of the items she purchased, nor the bags from those purchases were found in the apartment.  It’s entirely possible that she had somewhere else to go that night, perhaps the home of a friend, but no one has ever come forward and given that side of the story.

                If investigators were correct, they depict Sneha as someone who was carrying on affairs, spending her nights at bars and then going home with people she had met.  This certainly opens the door to multiple possibilities.  If Sneha did indeed have a drinking problem, then it isn’t hard to imagine that she could have been drinking that night when she met someone, accompanied them elsewhere and something bad could easily have happened to her.  Sneha could easily have become intoxicated and then left the bar, and ended running into someone on the street who had dark intentions.  It’s extremely open to interpretation, and a lot of it is based upon whether or not you believe the authorities who depict this lifestyle, or her family who have said this wasn’t the type of person that she was.  The fact that her husband didn’t report her missing until the 11th and the fact that he himself has said he assumed she was with a friend or relative and wasn’t worried immediately, does lead me to believe that Sneha may not have been coming home every night. 

                The problem with this theory is that there is no real angle to follow.  It is absolutely possible that Sneha could have run into trouble that night.  There are a myriad of things that could have occurred which may have resulted in her disappearance, but there have never been any names brought up during the official investigation, nor in the years since, as possible suspects.  So could Sneha have run into a yet unknown person or persons who did something terrible to her?  Absolutely, but whether or not that is what happened is difficult to determine.  I do believe that if Sneha had just been randomly murdered by someone that night, it’s probable her body would have turned up.  There are not a ton of places in Manhattan someone can take a body to conceal it without being seen doing it.  On the other hand, it’s certainly possible that she could have been taken out of state, weighed down in a river or brought to a more rural area of New York itself but that makes it seem more like her murder was planned, and not as a result of a first time encounter with someone.  So, what if it wasn’t a first time encounter?

                There are some who have suggested the possibility that Sneha may have been attacked, but not after a chance encounter.  Instead, they have put forth the idea that she may have been targeted, by a jealous lover, a spurned former encounter or even perhaps the person she accused of sexual harassment at Cabrini.  Some have even gone so far as to believe that her husband may have been responsible for her disappearance, though it should be noted that investigators ruled him out early on.  This is certainly possible, and someone who already knew her may have known where to find her, or had the ability to approach her when her guard was down.  Again, this makes a lot of sense and is easy to follow, but we lack any real evidence to make this connection with a certainty.  I do believe that Sneha may have been murdered or abducted sometime between the evening of September 10th and the morning of September 11th, but unless more is found, or someone comes forward with more information about her comings and goings in her final hours, there is nothing solid to connect the dots.  It’s a theory that absolutely has to be considered, and I do believe that something like this happening to Sneha is more probable than running off or committing suicide.  I don’t think her husband was involved, he has fought long and hard to keep her name in the light, and has been at odds with the very investigators who cleared him of suspicion.  I don’t believe, if he were involved, he’d have rocked the boat so hard.

                So that leads us to the last theory, that Sneha was in or at the World Trade Center during the attack and ultimately perished as a result of the towers collapsing.  Legally, it has already been decided that this was Sneha’s fate, but like every other theory thus far in this case, there is no evidence available to truly support it.  We know from the conversation Sneha had with her mother the day she disappeared that she had plans to visit the Windows on the World restaurant in the World Trade Center, so many have speculated that she was there on 9/11.  It’s certainly possible, and considering the lack of bodies found in the aftermath of the attacks, it would explain why she was never found. 

                The information which leads many to question this finding is the fact that, at least in terms of her last sighting, Sneha vanished on September 10th.  If indeed she was at the World Trade Center on the 11th, it has never been discovered as to where she was the night before, who she spent it with and why in the over twelve hours after leaving the department store, and the first plan hitting the towers, she never contacted any friends or family members.  It’s entirely possible that she went out that night, met someone new, or perhaps a friend, and spent her evening at their place.  Of course, why someone has never come forward with this information does make it see suspicious.  In addition to that, we know Sneha bought several hundred dollars worth of clothing and shoes which have never been found, so where did she go with them?  We may never have the answers to those questions.  I do believe its possible that Sneha was in the towers when they collapsed.  The world trade center was only a few blocks from her home, and whether or not she was in the restaurant that morning, or was heading home and decided to lend her medical efforts, it seems most likely that Sneha was killed in the terror attacks.

                The disappearance of Sneha Philip is frustrating in that there is so little evidence which can be applied to the theories about her.  Everything remains as an open possibility, and while the decision has been made legally, it was done so based on a most-likely scenario, and certainly wasn’t a unanimous decision by the panel of judges.  Her name now existed on the 9/11 memorial, and has joined the list of official victims of the world trade center attack.  Questions remain as to whether or not this is truly how Sneha met her fate, and theories continue to be discussed and debated, but with no solid proof, it’s impossible to know for sure.  Her family has found comfort in the courts ruling, and chooses to remember Sneha as someone who would have gladly risked her life to try and help others.  Whether or not we ever get confirmation of Sneha’s fate remains to be seen, and unless further evidence can be discovered, those who loved Sneha believe she died heroically and tragically on September 11th.