Lillie Leonardi, a former FBI employee who liaised between authorities and families of the victims of Flight 93, claims she saw angels guarding the crash site on September 11, 2001
Although Leonardi's book, "In the Shadow of a Badge: A Spiritual Memoir," centers on her vision of angels, she argues her life has been changed more by what she didn't see that day.
"The biggest thing for me is that that there were no bodies," she said.
Leonardi, 56, remembers the burning pine and jet fuel stinging her nostrils. She said she also remembers a smoldering crater littered with debris too small to associate with the jetliner or 40 passengers and crew on board.
"I'm used to crime scenes but this one blew me out of the water. It just looked like the ground had swallowed up" the plane, Leonardi said.
"That's when I started seeing like shimmery lights ... and it was kind of misty and that's when I first saw, like, the angels there," Leonardi said. "And I didn't say anything to the guys because you can imagine if I would have said, `I just saw angels on the crash site,' they'd have called the office and they'd have said, `She lost her mind and tell her to go home.'"
Instead, Leonardi kept it to herself for the better part of two years. As emotional and physical ailments surfaced that she would later learn were post-traumatic stress disorder-related, she began telling a close circle of friends and colleagues what she saw, including Kenneth McCabe, her former supervisor.
McCabe, 59, now retired near Cocoa Beach, Fla., was chief of the FBI's operational response section, which sent laboratory teams to gather evidence from each of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror sites. A year or so later, he became the special agent in charge of the FBI's Pittsburgh Field Office, making him Leonardi's boss until he retired from the bureau in 2004.
"I believe her. I read the whole book," McCabe told The Associated Press. "I know she believes 100 percent that's what she saw. I know she's a sane person so I'm not going to discount what she says she saw."
McCabe said he also understands why the Flight 93 crash site was different than the other attack scenes.