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A Mother Receives Her Sons' Remains 12 Years After Attacks

Sep 11, 2013
Originally published on September 11, 2013 6:18 pm

Twelve years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the loved ones of victims are still getting calls from the New York City Medical Examiner's Office about newly identified remains.

Sandra Grazioso from Clifton, N.J., said her family got one of those calls last week. She lost both of her sons in the terrorist attack — Tim, 42, and John, 41. Two more body parts belonging to Tim had been identified.

"An upper arm and shoulder and a tooth," Grazioso says. "A molar."

According to Ellen Borakove with the New York City Medical Examiner's Office, more than 8,000 individual body parts gathered from the Sept. 11 wreckage have not yet been identified, out of the 22,000 individual remains that were recovered.

For more than a decade, the Grazioso family has been receiving the remains of the two brothers. The body parts the family just got the call about were found years ago.

"But they just ID'd them now," she says. "They called my daughter-in-law. They call her every time."

Borakove says one victim can be linked to hundreds of remains, some as small as a centimeter, others several inches long. Each piece is tested for DNA and delivered to funeral homes for families to collect.

Since the attacks, the Medical Examiner's Office has identified close to 14,000 individual body parts belonging to 1,634 people.

More than 1,000 people who went missing that day have not yet had any remains linked to them.

When more of John Grazioso's body parts were identified last year, his family had his casket lifted to place the new body parts inside. "And then put it back in the ground," Sandra Grazioso says.

Families can choose to not get calls when body parts are identified; any unclaimed remains will go into the Sept. 11 memorial in New York City.

Generations later, if relatives want to find out about the remains of loved ones killed that day, they'll still be able to do so.

Copyright 2013 WNYC Radio. To see more, visit http://www.wnyc.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

For relatives of the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks, the calls are still coming, calls from the New York City Medical Examiner's Office telling families about newly identified remains. Sarah Gonzalez of New Jersey Public Radio reports that the calls take people right back to that day in 2001.

SARAH GONZALEZ, BYLINE: Just a week ago, Sandra Grazioso says her family got one of those calls. Two more body parts had been identified.

SANDRA GRAZIOSO: An upper arm, something to do with the upper arm and shoulder and a tooth, a molar.

GONZALEZ: The 78-year-old lost both of her sons in the 9/11 attacks, Tim and John.

GRAZIOSO: I brought a picture.

GONZALEZ: Tim was 42, the more sensitive brother. He commuted to the World Trade Center from Florida where he lived with his wife and 12-year-old twin daughters. John was considered the funnier brother. He was 41 and married with three children in New Jersey.

Tim worked on the 104th floor of the Trade Center, and John worked on the 105th floor.

For more than a decade, the families have been receiving the remains of the two brothers. The body parts the family just got the call about were found years ago.

GRAZIOSO: In 2001 and 2006, but they just ID'd them now, that's why. It never gets easier. It never does. And somebody said, can't they just tell you once a year? But no. They call you - they called my daughter-in-law. They called her every time.

GONZALEZ: Ellen Borakove with the New York City Medical Examiner's Office says there are still more than 8,000 individual body parts that have yet to be identified from the September 11 attacks. One victim can be linked to hundreds of remains. Each piece is tested for DNA and delivered to funeral homes for families to collect. The medical examiner's office has identified close to 14,000 individual body parts belonging to 1,634 people since the attacks.

More than 1,000 people who went missing on 9/11 have not yet had any remains linked to them. One more of John Grazioso's body parts were identified last year. His mom says they had his grave in New Jersey dug up.

GRAZIOSO: They've all opened up, cracked open the casket and the new body parts in there, and then put it back in the ground.

GONZALEZ: She says it reopens the wounds every time. The medical examiner's office says families can choose to not get calls when body parts are identified. Any unclaimed remains will go into the 9/11 memorial in New York City. And generations later, if relatives want to find out about the remains of loved ones on September 11, they'll still have that option.

For NPR News, I'm Sarah Gonzalez in New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.