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True Story Of 9/11 Imposter: Tania Head — World Trade Center’s Fake 9/11 Survivor. “

Untrue Story Of A Sept 11 Survivor

Incredible stories of heroism, heartache, survival and triumph have been shared by survivors, family members and service personnel who were personally affected by the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, but one woman’s story had everyone fooled.

Tania Head surfaced two years after the 9/11 terror attacks with an astonishing tale of survival and loss and had one of the most tragic and inspiring stories to come out of the Sept. 11 attacks. She was in the south tower, on the same floor that the second plane hit. She saw horrific carnage and was handed a wedding ring by a dying man who requested that she give it to his wife. Then she was led to safety by Welles Crowther, the famous “man in the red bandanna,” who lost his own life rescuing others. And finally, she woke up in a hospital burn unit six days later, only to find out that her husband had been killed in the north tower.

Her disturbing account inspired everyone who heard it. Head worked tirelessly to give a voice to 9/11 survivors, and she won the admiration of everyone she met. She cultivated friendships with fellow survivors and ultimately rose to become president of the influential World Trade Center Survivors’ Network.

Tania Head’s astonishing account of her experience on September 11, 2001, was a tale of loss and recovery, of courage and sorrow, of horror and inspiration. It transformed her into one of the great victims and heroes of that tragic day. But there was something very wrong with Tania’s story—a terrible secret that would break the hearts and challenge the faith of all those she claimed to champion.

Alicia Esteve Head aka Tania Head.

Head had one of the most harrowing accounts from 9/11 and eventually became the president of a survivor’s network, but the Spanish woman was ultimately proved to be a fraud and wasn’t even in the country on September 11, 2001. She is actually a Spanish woman named Alicia Esteve Head. She joined the World Trade Centre Survivors’ Network support group, later becoming its president. Her name was regularly mentioned in media reports of the attacks. In 2007, it was revealed her story was a hoax: Head was not in New York on September 11, 2001, as she was actually attending classes in Barcelona. For many fabulists, the boundary between reality and fantasy is blurred even as a child.

Tania’s real name is Alicia Esteve Head and was born in 1973, the youngest and only girl of five children to a wealthy Catalan businessman.She was born and raised in Barcelona and led a life of privilege (she even had her own horse). She came from a prominent Barcelona family that was involved in a financial scandal in 1992, for which her father and brother served prison terms. Around 6 years old, Head “always had a problem with her imagination,” a friend said. She began her tales innocently, mostly talking about imaginary boyfriends, but it was enough to earn her a reputation.Head already seemed to have it all. Her family hobnobbed with powerful politicians and European royalty. She spent her days in exclusive country clubs, riding horses, playing tennis and yachting.

But by her late teens, this idyllic life began to unravel. When she was 18, she got into a serious car wreck. Her arm was completely severed from her body, and it took several surgeries at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for doctors to get her arm fully reattached. These scars would prove valuable later in New York City.

She attended the University of Barcelona and worked for Hovisa, a Spanish hotel company. She later worked in Barcelona as a management secretary from 1998 to 2000 and was enrolled in a master’s degree program at ESADE in 2001 when the September 11 attacks took place.

Though her family lived on a glorious estate and hobnobbed with politicians and royalty, Alicia struggled with her weight and often felt like an outsider. She began telling fantastical stories about herself and amongst her friends, she became known as a storyteller. Alicia loved Americans and even had an American flag hanging in her bedroom. During September 2001, she was enrolled in business school in Barcelona, and there is no evidence she was out of the country on September 11th.

On May 13, 2003, Head logged into an online support group for survivors and victims’ families.“I don’t sleep, I see and hear images and sounds, I’m moody, my stress and anxiety have skyrocketed,” she wrote on the discussion board. By October, she suggested that the group of survivors break off from the victims’ families and establish their own support group.

The two groups were sometimes at odds because survivors were seen lower on the totem pole of grief than families who had lost someone they loved. By November, Head had shared her “story” with the tight-knit community. The details were so nuanced that no one ever dreamed of questioning it.

“I remember this one guy who yelled, ‘Ladies, this is not the Titanic. It’s not women and children first,’ ” she wrote.

She opened up about her “American Prince Charming,” Dave, which allowed her to straddle both worlds, as a survivor and a victim’s wife. And almost overnight, she became the “face of the most tragic chapters in the history of the United States.”

She was named co-chair (with Gerry Bogacz, who lived through 9/11 and the 1993 bombings) of the World Trade Center Survivor’s Network. She met with victims’ families — and even had dinner with the family of Welles Crowther, the man in the red bandana in her false narrative.

Though rotund and not typically pretty, she had what so many others lacked: presence. “Some of them didn’t feel worthy to be in the same room with her,” people recalled.

Her magnetism, one person described, was like “Glinda the Good Witch” summoning her munchkin friends to “come out, come out, wherever you are.”

Within a few months, she’d built a website, a speaker’s bureau, was the star of a documentary (with coauthor Guglielmo), hosted fund-raisers in her Midtown apartment and successfully lobbied for a survivor visit to Ground Zero. She even testified before a congressional committee about the health issues facing survivors. In 2005, she became a docent at the Tribute WTC Visitor Center and led Mayor Bloomberg, Gov. George Pataki and former Mayor Rudy Guiliani around the site.

Head may have helped bolster the reputation of the survivor organization at first. But while doing so, she ruled over the other survivors with an iron fist — behaviour that bordered on emotional terrorism. She staged a coup that threw her co-chair Bogacz off the board, to get the position she desired: president. When another survivor, an ex-Marine, who had admitted to Head that during his darkest hours he contemplated suicide, posted a political rant that offended Head, she accused him of being a fraud and had him removed.

Lisa Fenger, another survivor, recognized the picture of Dave on Tania’s shirt during a Tunnel to the Towers run. “Wow. The only person that my company lost turns out to be your husband. How bizarre,” she said. Soon after, Head launched a smear campaign against Fenger, calling her a faker and urging for her removal from the group. But Head’s lies were catching up with her.

Survivor Brendan Chellis noticed slight discrepancies: She referred to Dave as her husband and her fiancé, which was it? Since they were close, she had shared Dave’s last name (a secret she only told her closest friends). When he Googled Dave’s full name, he found dozens of articles, but no mention of a wife or fiancée. Where was Dave’s family? And where was the white lab, Elvis that the couple owned before the attacks? Chellis kept these findings to himself, too scared to be ostracized by the group. And Head was acting increasingly bizarre as the noose around her started to tighten. Though Head had always been wary of reporters, it grew into paranoia when The New York Times started asking questions about her tale before the sixth anniversary of the attacks.

AP Photo/Gulnara Samoilova.

The network’s purpose was to provide support for survivors in the aftermath of the attacks since most public support was paid to victims and their families, police officers and fire-fighters. After joining the group, Head’s lobbying led to increased recognition for survivors, and she successfully negotiated that they be given access to Ground Zero, which they previously did not have. She was never paid for these activities, or for her involvement with the Survivors’ Network, and in fact donated money to the group.

Head rose to “mini-celebrity status” with her vivid description of crawling through smoke and flames on the 78th floor of the South Tower (WTC 2) when United Airlines Flight 175 hit. If true, this would have made her 1 of only 19 people at or above the point of impact to have survived. She claimed that her fiancé Dave was killed in the North Tower (WTC 1), though later telling of the story, she said that “Dave” was actually her husband.

She also claimed that a dying man passed his wedding ring to her so it could be returned to his widow and that she had been rescued by Welles Crowther, whose heroic actions on that day were widely reported in the media. Head was interviewed by the media, invited to speak at university conferences, and in 2005, was chosen to lead tours for the Tribute WTC Visitor Centre, where she was photographed with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and former New York Governor George Pataki.

Head regularly recounted her claims to Ground Zero tour groups in vivid detail, saying, “I was there at the towers. I’m a survivor. I’m going to tell you about that.” She was featured in retrospective 9/11 articles as a representative of the 20,000 surviving victims who escaped the damaged buildings. Richard Zimbler, her successor as president of the World Trade Center Survivors’ Network, said, “There was no reason to doubt her story. She looked the part. She had a badly injured arm that appeared to have burn scars and her story was very, very realistic.”

Lee Ielpi (2nd left) and Tania Head take former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg (3rd l. to r.) on the first guided tour of Ground Zero. The tours, which will be organized out of the planned Tribute Center starting in October, will be led by survivors and family members of those who died on 9/11.

In this excerpt from by Robin Gaby Fisher and Angelo J. Guglielmo, Jr. Jr.’s book The Woman Who Wasn’t There, the authors chronicle the months and days before her lie unravelled.

Meltdown at the St. Regis

That summer of 2007, Tania had taken to disappearing for days and sometimes weeks at a time. She told her therapist that her counselling sessions were helping her to move on. After six years of feeling dead inside, she thought it might be time to start thinking about what she wanted for herself and not doing for everyone else. She didn’t want to be defined by September 11 anymore. It was in that light that she had begun thinking about keeping a lower profile within the Survivors’ Network and maybe even divorcing herself from the group eventually.

That was all well and good, her therapist said, but between the widespread impact of her story, and all of the good she had done for survivors, it was unlikely that she could live anonymously again.

At that point, Tania was survivor nobility. It was under her leadership that the survivors’ group had gone from virtual obscurity to a formidable advocacy organization with power and respect. In its short existence, the network had recruited over a thousand members, forged important political alliances, saved the Survivors’ Stairway from destruction, lobbied Washington for health services, and convinced the 9/11 Memorial Committee to give it a presence in the museum planned for the World Trade Center site, ensuring that the survivors’ legacy would be preserved for generations to come. As if all of that hadn’t been enough, next Tania spread her good will to the Tribute Center, where she had inspired hundreds of visitors with her story.

So when David Dunlap of The New York Times went to the Tribute Center looking for a story to observe the sixth anniversary, the people there didn’t hesitate with a suggestion. Do a story on Tania Head, they said.

The newspaper had been awarded the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for its sweeping coverage of the attack and its aftermath. Its “Portraits of Grief” series about the lives lost that day resonated with readers around the country and around the world, and the lengthy story titled “102 Minutes,” which told in superlative detail what happened inside the towers from the first plane hitting to the second tower falling, evolved into a best-selling book.

Indeed, its reporting had been so absolute that Dunlap and his editors wondered how they could have missed Tania Head.

Tania told the Survivors’ Network board that she had been asked to consider doing an interview with the Times. She said that, as she’d understood it, the piece would showcase all of the survivors. She knew a story in the Times would be good for the network. That kind of exposure would bring in more members and remind the public that the survivors were still around and struggling.

But as had happened so often before, almost as soon as she agreed to the interview, Tania began having second thoughts. Frankly, the Times frightened her a little, she said, although she wasn’t quite sure why. “What should I do?” she asked the others. But before Tania had a chance to decide, fate intervened.

CIRCA 2002: Lee Ielpi (2nd left) and Tania Head take former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg (3rd l. to r.) on the first guided tour of Ground Zero. The tours, which will be organized out of the planned Tribute Center starting in October, will be led by survivors and family members of those who died on 9/11.

One morning, as summer was winding down, Tania called Linda [survivor Linda Gormley, her best friend] at work, and she could barely choke out her words. “What’s wrong?” Linda asked.

Tania said that her brother Jay had died after a long battle with cancer. She hadn’t wanted to burden anyone with her family problems, but she couldn’t deal with another death of a loved one, and she was coming undone.

“Please come, Linda!” she cried. “I need you.”

Linda ran from her office and grabbed a taxi downtown. Tania’s eyes were red and swollen when she answered her apartment door. She wanted to go to church, she said. Linda walked Tania to a nearby Catholic church, where the two sat together in a wooden pew and prayed the Rosary. Poor Tania. She had almost lost her life in the terrorist attack, and her husband was killed. Now she’d lost a brother too. How much could one person take? Linda wondered. “How can I help you?” she asked. “What can I do?”

“Just be my friend,” Tania said through her tears.

When Tania got back from the funeral in California, she quickly immersed herself in planning for the sixth anniversary, but Linda and the others noticed something different about her. She was irritable and cantankerous almost all of the time, and she seemed to be trying to distance herself from the others. As always, Linda was on the receiving end of Tania’s moods, and, as always, she tolerated the hurt that came with Tania’s razor-sharp words. She worried that, between regurgitating September 11 during her therapy sessions, and now losing her brother, Tania was headed for a nervous breakdown.

In early September, her worry turned to panic.

Shortly after returning from California, Tania had told Linda that Merrill Lynch was arranging for her to meet with the families of 11 of her coworkers who’d died in the towers. Over the years, she had been besieged with requests to meet the families, and she’d always refused. She knew what they wanted—details about the last moments of their loved ones’ lives—and she had always resolved that they didn’t really want to know what she knew. Those images had nearly destroyed her life, and she still couldn’t get through a night without closing her eyes and seeing a charred or broken body. How could sharing those terrible memories possibly help them? But for some reason—maybe it was having recently lost her brother—this year she had agreed.

Tania said that the meeting was scheduled for the first Saturday in September at the St. Regis Hotel on Park Avenue. Linda was worried about the effect it would have on her friend. “Call me if you need me,” she said. At 10:30 that morning, Linda’s phone rang. Tania was on the other end, sobbing. Coming to the St. Regis had been a mistake, she said. She had barely made it into the room at the hotel when the family members started bombarding her with questions. The atmosphere felt almost ghoulish. When she wouldn’t tell them what they wanted to know, they turned on her, yelling and screaming at her that she had no right to withhold what she knew.

Linda flew out of her apartment. She went directly to the St. Regis, where she found Tania curled in a ball on the sidewalk outside the hotel.

“Oh my God!” she cried. “Tania! Tania?”

Tania rocked back and forth, crying and shaking. “I tried to get them out,” she wailed. “I tried to save them. I tried. Really I did. I didn’t want them to die.”

Linda was terrified. Tania was having flashbacks. She pulled a wad of tissues from her purse and mopped Tania’s forehead, then took her arm and gently coaxed her to her feet. Guiding her into the hotel lobby, she put her in a chair and marched to the front desk, demanding to know where the Merrill Lynch meeting was taking place. She was going to give those people a piece of her mind. How dare they treat her friend like that? Didn’t they understand what she had endured?

The desk clerk looked baffled. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. Before she had time to think of a retort, Linda saw Tania beckoning her. “I want to go to Dave,” Tania said, her voice thin and wobbly.

Linda knew what that meant. During Tania’s lowest moments, she often visited the Marsh & McLennan Memorial Wall outside the company headquarters in midtown. The glass wall was etched with the names of the 295 people the company lost on September 11. Tania would go there and sit on the granite bench and be with Dave. It always seemed to comfort her.

Linda took Tania’s hand, and they walked the ten blocks to the memorial wall. They stood together in the plaza, and Tania brushed her hand over Dave’s name. Before long, her tears stopped, and she seemed to be calming down. Linda stroked her friend’s hair, knowing that Dave was bringing her peace.

“You can go home now, Linda,” Tania said slowly. “I’m going to be all right.”

Linda felt nauseous all the way home. How could those people have been so mean to Tania? she wondered. How could they have attacked her that way?

It was midafternoon when she finally got back to her apartment. Her telephone answering machine was blinking with a message. A reporter from the New York Times had called. They were doing a story on her friend, Tania Head, he said. Would she please give him a call?

Angelo J. Guglielmo, Jr. the co-author of the book, The Woman Who Wasn’t There, became friends with the woman who called herself Tania Head after she pressed him to make a documentary about the survivors. “The World Trade Center Survivors’ Network had just gotten started, and Tania had been instrumental in moving it forward,” he says.

And that was the odd thing about Head: Her amazing story was a hoax, a betrayal that caused terrible pain to the people in her life. Yet many people felt that she had actually done a great deal of good for the survivors.

“Survivors continue to say that a great deal of their healing came from Tania helping them, and from Tania helping get them recognized,” says Robin Gaby Fisher, who wrote the book with Guglielmo. “They needed that validation, and no one was able to get that for them, except for Tania.”

Few of the survivors were willing to question Head when the occasional inconsistency appeared in her story, like when she referred to the man who died in the north tower as her husband to some people and her fiance to others. Hadn’t she been through enough?

But it was the Survivors’ Network that ultimately, inadvertently, led to Head’s exposure as a fraud. When The New York Times was looking for an inspiring profile to accompany its sixth-anniversary coverage in 2007, several members recommended Head.

In September 2007, The New York Times sought to verify key details of Head’s story as part of an anniversary piece. Head claimed a degree from Harvard University and a graduate business degree from Stanford University, but those institutions had no record of her. Head claimed she had been working at Merrill Lynch in the World Trade Center, but Merrill Lynch had no record of her employment. Head backed out of three scheduled interviews, and later refused to speak to reporters at all. The New York Times then contacted other members of the Survivors’ Network and raised questions about the veracity of Head’s story. Not long after the Times story was published, Head disappeared, having never explained why she did what she did.

Tania Head became the face of the Sept. 11 survivors movement, telling her story to the media and to tour groups at ground zero. There was just one problem: Not a word of it was true.

Tania Head’s story, as shared over the years with reporters, students, friends and hundreds of visitors to ground zero, was a remarkable account of both life and death. She had, she said, survived the terror attack on the World Trade Center despite having been badly burned when the plane crashed into the upper floors of the south tower. Crawling through the chaos and carnage on the 78th floor that morning, she said, she encountered a dying man who handed her his inscribed wedding ring, which she later returned to his widow.

Her own life was saved, she said, by a selfless volunteer who stanched the flames on her burning clothes before she was helped down the stairs. It was a journey she said she had the strength to make because she kept thinking of a beautiful white dress she was to wear at her coming marriage ceremony to a man named Dave.

But later she would discover, she said, that Dave, her fiancé, and in some versions her husband, had perished in the north tower. As a matter of history,  Head’s account made her one of only 19 survivors who had been at or above the point of impact when the planes hit. As a matter of emotion, her story deeply moved audiences like college students to whom she spoke and visitors at ground zero, where she has long led tours for the Tribute W.T.C. Visitor Center for visitors including Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and former Gov. George E. Pataki. “What I witnessed there I will never forget,” she told a gathering at Baruch College at a memorial event in 2006. “It was a lot of death and destruction, but I also saw hope.”

Much of Head’s account was posted on the Web site of the World Trade Center Survivors’ Network, a nonprofit organization for which she served as president and as a point person for corporate donations. But no part of her story, it turns out, had been verified.

The family and friends of the man to whom she claimed to be engaged say they have never heard of Tania Head and view the relationship she describes with the man, who truly died in the north tower, as an impossibility. A spokeswoman for Merrill Lynch & Company, where she told people she worked at the time of the terror attack, said the company had no record of employing a Tania Head.

And few people, it seems who embraced the gripping immediacy and pain of her account ever asked the name of the man whose ring she had returned, or that of the hospital where she was treated, or the identities of the people she met with in the south tower on the morning of 9/11.

“She never shared those details, and it was nothing we wanted to probe,” said Alison Crowther, the mother of Welles Remy Crowther, a man who died on 9/11 and who is credited with rescuing a number of people from the south tower, including, by  Head’s account, Head. “I felt it was too private and painful for her.”

The New York Times sought to interview Head about her experiences on 9/11 because she had, in other settings, presented a poignant account of survival and loss. But she cancelled three scheduled interviews, citing her privacy and emotional turmoil, and declined to provide details to corroborate her story. During a telephone conversation, she would not explain her reticence, saying only that she had not filed any claims with the federal Victim Compensation Fund. “I have done nothing illegal,” Head said.

She had retained a lawyer, Stephanie Furgang Adwar, to represent her. Also, in response to a question about the accuracy of Head’s account, Adwar said in an e-mail message, “With regard to the veracity of my client’s story, neither my client nor I, have any comment.”

No one has suggested that Head did anything to profit financially from her position as an officer with the Survivors’ Network, the nonprofit group for which she helped to raise money. But the organizations with which she has been affiliated have also questioned her account.

For several weeks, colleagues who said they respected the good work she had done as a fixture in the survivor community have pressed her to come forward with clarifying details. But they said that they had been unable to persuade her or, in other cases, that she made representations that contradicted previous versions she had given.

In 2007, the board of the Survivors’ Network voted to remove her as president and as a director of the group, which seeks to support those who escaped the terror that day. Tania Head is no longer associated with the World Trade Center Survivors’ Network.

Officials of the Tribute Center said that as it stands, Head would no longer do volunteer work for it as a tour guide. “At this time, we are unable to confirm the veracity of her connection to the events of Sept. 11,” said Jennifer Adams, chief executive of the September 11th Families’ Association, which developed the centre.

Tania Head’s colleagues in New York, the people who worked with her to respond to the trauma of the terror attack, say that for three years she has given a gentle face and passionate voice to the survivors of the tragedy. They have seen, they said, the scars and marks on her arm that she said she suffered in the terrorist attack.

Biographical material circulated at a school where she was scheduled to speak listed her as a financial executive who had done work in the United States, the United Kingdom, Argentina, France, Singapore and Holland for leading firms. She said that she had started out as a management consultant for Andersen Consulting. Head told Crowther’s family that she had worked on a mergers team at Merrill Lynch and that all the members of the team in the south tower had perished on 9/11, except her.

Linda Gormley, a board member of the Survivors’ Network, said that Head had told her she had been in the building applying for an internship.

Head, who sometimes uses the first name Alicia, also said that she travelled to Thailand after the tsunami in 2004 and to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina to offer her help. Her work with the Survivors’ Network appears to have begun in 2004, when Gerry Bogacz, one of its founders, said he learned through word of mouth that a woman named Tania Head had developed an Internet group for survivors.

“We had a long e-mail conversation over a two-month period, before we met, and shared our experiences,” Bogacz, who escaped from the north tower on 9/11, said in an interview. “The constellation of her experiencing the plane crash personally on the 78th floor and her fiancé’s being in the other tower and getting killed was just amazing.”

Head, who lives in Midtown Manhattan, became a board member of the Survivors’ Network about a year later, according to Bogacz.

The story she shared with people was that she had been on the 96th floor of the south tower, which was occupied by the Fiduciary Trust Company International when the north tower was hit by the first plane at 8:46 a.m. She was up there, according to her own account, as a Merrill Lynch employee helping to close a merger between Fiduciary Trust and Franklin Resources Inc.

She was on the 78th floor, waiting for an express elevator to leave the south tower, she said when the second plane struck.

Head has described how a severely burned man on the floor handed her his wedding ring as she crawled past, a ring she returned to the man’s grieving widow months later. Head has not publicly disclosed the identity of that family.

She has spoken, though, of being rescued by Mr Crowther, a 24-year-old equities trader and volunteer firefighter from Rockland County who is credited with saving several people in the south tower by leading them to the only stairs in either tower not severed by the planes. But Crowther, who is believed to have worn a red bandanna that day, did not escape himself. Head has said that she awoke to find Crowther extinguishing the flames on her clothes.

Among other questionable elements of Head’s story was her engagement to a man nicknamed “Big Dave,” who had perished in the opposite tower. The man’s family claimed to have never heard of Tania Head.

Five days later, she has said, she regained consciousness in a hospital and found out that Dave, her fiancé, had died in the north tower. Head has said she established a foundation in his memory, Dave’s Children Foundation, and has served as its executive director. But there are no registration records of such a charity on file with the federal government or with New York State.

A colleague of Head’s said she had told her that she met Dave when they were fighting over a taxi and that he gave her his business card, which she threw away in a huff. But about a month later, she has said, they ended up at the same business meeting and soon started to date. A colleague said Head had turned up for the last three anniversaries at ground zero to place a small replica of a yellow cab and flowers there in honour of David and how they met.

Head told several people that shortly before 9/11, she and Dave went to Hawaii, where they recognized their commitment to each other in a ceremony that was not legally recorded. Several people said she had told them that the official wedding was to be held in October 2001 in New York City, but that the couple had already begun to live together on the East Side with their golden retriever, Elvis.

An associate of Head’s, Janice Cilento, a social worker who is on the board of the Survivors’ Network, said that Head told a different version of her life with Dave, relating now that they had only known each other for a few months and that their relationship had been kept secret from his family. Previously, Cilento said, Head had told her that she knew Dave’s family well, and that the couple had been living together for some time.

Cilento said, then Head told her in a phone conversation that her relationship with Dave had been a fantasy. In fact, the family and several friends of Dave, whose full name is being withheld to protect their privacy, said they had never heard of Tania Head. His mother said none of her son’s e-mail messages had indicated such a relationship. Both his parents and his roommate, with whom he lived in Manhattan, said they knew of no trip that he had taken to Hawaii.

The Barcelona newspaper La Vanguardia ultimately revealed that Head had been in class at ESADE Business School in Barcelona during the September 11 attacks, where she had told her classmates that her scarred arm was the result of an automobile accident, or alternatively a horse riding accident, many years earlier. La Vanguardia reported that Head attended classes in the program until June 2002, and had told classmates she wanted to work in New York.

The strange tale of Tania Head

Jefferson Crowther, Welles Crowther’s father, said in an interview that with the help of another Tribute Center tour guide, he and his wife met Head early 2006. Crowther said that he arranged for them all to have dinner in a private dining room at the Princeton Club because Head had indicated she was uneasy about meeting in a very public place.

“During the dinner she said she still had her burned clothing and was going to send us a piece of it on a plaque since it was one of the last things our son had touched,” he recalled. “She explained that her clothes were on fire and that our son took a jacket and put out the flames. She told us that she said, ‘Don’t leave me,’ and he replied, ‘I won’t. Don’t worry. I’ll get you down.’”

“She seemed so heartfelt and genuine about what she said to us,” Crowther said.

After Head’s fraud was exposed, she declined all further interviews and abruptly left New York. In February 2008, an anonymous email was sent from a Spanish account to members of the World Trade Center Survivors Network, claiming that Head had committed suicide. In 2012, a book and feature film documentary, both titled The Woman Who Wasn’t There, told Head’s story from inside the World Trade Center Survivors’ Network, utilizing interviews with Head and members of the Network before and after her deception was revealed. Both the book and film noted that Head was sighted with her mother in New York City on September 14, 2011.

In July 2012, Head was fired from her position at Inter Partner Assistance, an insurance company in Barcelona, once her employers found out about her ruse in New York.

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