It is quite clear that objects from the planes that hit the World Trade Center were recovered after the attack on 9/11. It is also clear that nobody inside the planes could have survived the crash, and few human remains were found in the aftermath. Curiously enough, though, Snopes gives a claim (marked as "undetermined") that a pair of handcuffed hands was found

atop one of the neighboring buildings.

Snopes quotes this article (originally on Newsday). The claims were apparently backed up by "police sources;" I have not been able to find those sources.

It is also said that

The hands were cataloged Friday at the medical examiner's office at 30th Street and First Avenue, which is the main facility for the painful and painstaking process of identifying the dead and establishing the cause of death.

The official site of the medical examiner, however, does not give information about specific remains.

There is a related claim that the body of a flight stewardess was found - with her hands bound. The Guardian claims

Close by was the body of a woman believed to be a stewardess, whose hands were tied with wire, Fox News said. Police could not confirm the reports.

The New York Times says

Another [rescue worker], in one of the most searing discoveries among the ruins, found the body of a flight attendant, her hands bound.

This page led me to these last two sources, and suggests that the two claims (bound severed hands and stewardess's body) could be versions of the same claim.

Wikipedia repeats the claim, but gives no new sources.

I realize that putting these sources together could make for an answer to this question of "inconclusive," but I sincerely doubt that there is no other trustworthy evidence on the issue, though I have not been able to find it.

Was a severed pair of handcuffed hands and/or a handcuffed flight stewardess's body recovered after 9/11?

I should add that I'm not skeptical about minor remains being recovered - that seems plausible. I am skeptical that handcuffed or otherwise restrained remains were found. Given the other events on-board the planes (i.e. the death of the crew in some cases), it seems odd that someone (presumably) would go to the trouble of restraining someone when knocking them out or killing them would be much simpler. It could be that one of the terrorists was restrained, but the reports seem to imply the opposite.

Admittedly, this is (educated) speculation.

  • and why the leap of imagination from "a pair of handcuffs" to "a handcuffed flight attendant"? Given that police officers died in the WTC it's almost certain there were handcuffs or remains of them to be recovered on the scene. – jwenting Apr 14 '15 at 5:47
  • @jwenting I have no idea. You would have to ask the source of the claim. – HDE 226868 Apr 14 '15 at 14:55

The official 9/11 commission report, consisting of 585 pages, gave evidence of the following:

  • Airport security footage of the hijackers as they passed through airport security
  • Excerpts from the United Airlines Flight 93 cockpit voice recording, which recorded the sounds of the hijackers in the cockpit and the passengers' attempts to regain control
  • Eyewitness testimony of passengers as they described their own final moments to family members and authorities on airphones and cellphones from the cabins of doomed airliners

However, the report didn't mention anything about any handcuffed or bound hands.

This question is unanswerable.

  • 4
    I'm not sure if what you mean by "scientific evidence" in the conclusion is clear or not. Either handcuffed hands were found and documented, or they were not. The standards of forensic evidence should be sufficient establish that they were found. – rjzii Mar 12 '15 at 1:10
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    You say we don't have any access to forensic evidence. Do we? I'm ignorant on the subject. Are there any reports, publicly available information or even confirmation/denials from people with access to the forensic information? – Oddthinking Mar 12 '15 at 6:09
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    How is this an answer? You just repeat the claim from the question, even linking to the same AmNY article, state you couldn't find any evidence, then fallaciously conclude it's unanswerable as a result. Surely one could submit an FOIA request or something, even if we don't currently have access to the evidence (which has not been proven). – Esoteric Screen Name Mar 13 '15 at 2:49
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    I previously had not voted on the answer, as I wasn't convinced one way or the other, but I am downvoting it because it looks at a single source, finds no mention of the relevant event and concludes that the question is unanswerable. I have no problem with the question being unanswerable, but I do have a problem with someone coming to that conclusion on the basis of one source. – HDE 226868 Apr 12 '15 at 23:02
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    "This question is unanswerable" should be a comment not an answer. If there's no answer then the proper thing to do is leave the question unanswered. – ChrisW Apr 13 '15 at 0:28

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