Somerset County Coroner Wallace Miller was mystified today by reports out of Washington, D.C., that unidentified human remains recovered from the Flight 93 crash site had been incinerated and dumped in a landfill.
"Where they would have gotten those remains I have no idea," said Mr. Miller. "The only remains that left Somerset County were samples sent for DNA testing to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Quantico, Va."
The Families of Flight 93 are equally skeptical, spokeswoman Lisa Linden said.
"This is impossible to believe," she said. "The remains from the Flight 93 crash were under the care and control of the great Somerset County Coroner Wallace Miller. Period."
Mr. Miller oversaw the retrieval, identification, storage and return of all human remains from the Flight 93 crash site in Stonycreek Township near Shanksville on Sept. 11, 2001. All identified remains of passengers and crew were returned to the families, he said, and those that could not be identified were put in three caskets and buried on Sept. 12, 2011 at the Flight 93 National Memorial.
The DNA testing at Quantico produced 44 separate profiles, Mr. Miller said.
"Forty were positively identified as passengers and crew and returned to the families," he said.
As for the other four, presumably belonging to the four terrorists, "They were taken into custody by the FBI as part of a criminal investigation, which is ongoing," he said.
In September, FBI spokesman Paul Bresson told the Post-Gazette that the FBI still held the remains of all nine of the terrorists who were aboard the planes that crashed into the Pentagon and Stonycreek.
According to a Washington Post story, the Defense Department acknowledged on Tuesday that small portions of human remains from the terror attacks on the Pentagon and the crash in Stonycreek were taken to the Dover Air Force Base mortuary and wound up in a landfill.
"All I can say is they didn't come from us," Mr. Miller said.
Sally Kalson: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1610.