Unresolved: Henryk Siwiak, father of two children, was shot dead in Brooklyn at 11.42 pm on September 11, 2001. His killer was never found
At 8.46 and 9.03 on the morning of September 11, 2001, hijacked aircraft crashed into the north and south towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. At 9.59 a.m, the south tower collapsed, followed by the north at 10.28, officially leaving in its wake 2,753 people killed in the city by terrorists. The eyewitnesses reported the horrendous attacks; the cameras captured much of the devastation. Now, every year on the anniversary of September 11, countless people are silent to commemorate these four moments marked in the collective memory of the world.
But there was one more murder in New York City that day. There are no known witnesses, no video footage, no special public monuments, no silence at exactly 11.42 p.m. Instead, only a handful of distant mourners still commemorate the death number 2,754, a murder as meaningless as those miles away, but one seemingly destined to remain forever without answers as time goes by and crime becomes a note forgotten in history as the only unresolved murder of the city on September 11.
According to all reports, Henryk Siwiak was a devoted husband, father, son and brother. In a telephone interview from his home in Krakow, Poland, his widow, Ewa Siwiak, described him as a "quiet" man who became restless after losing his job as inspector of the Polish railway. "He wanted to repair our standard of living and earn some money," he said.
So Henryk traveled from Krakow to Rockaway, Queens, in the fall of 2000. His wife, the high school biology teacher turned scientist, had mixed feelings about leaving for the United States, but she wanted to leave. She decided that the experience "could be good for him".
Henryk settled into an apartment within minutes of his older sister, Lucyna Siwiak, who has been a resident of Queens since the mid-1990s. She formulated a simple plan: find work to support Ewa and her two children, Gabriela and Adam, who were then 16 and 9 years old.
None of the Siwiaks could have foreseen that the decision would take place 11 months later, with Henryk facing death only on a dark street in Brooklyn, where he ended only by a tragic turn of fate.
Henryk's older sister, Lucyna Siwiak, shows a picture of her brother Henryk Siwiak, from her collection at her home in New York. In an interview with DailyMail.com, she said: & # 39; Henyrk is already dead and nothing will change that fact & # 39; She does not have much faith, those responsible for her death will ever be found. Even so, she does not have "feelings of revenge"
Ewa and Henryk Siwiak had celebrated their twentieth wedding anniversary six days before his death. In an interview with DailyMail.com, she said: "I asked:" No, please, leave your house this day. "He agreed with me, but what happens next I do not know exactly. But I think someone called him on the phone and offered him a job, and this hardworking man was "(photo of the family)
Henryk Siwiak lost his job in Poland and moved to New York in search of work. She moved to Brooklyn, where her older sister has lived since the mid-1990s. Here she is represented with the Statue of Liberty in the background
September 11, 2001 began normally in Krakow, but Ewa, who had just celebrated his twentieth wedding anniversary with Henryk six days earlier, and his son was alarmed when, around 3 p.m. Polish time (9 a.m. on the east coast), television news began to transmit images of what was happening in New York. & # 39; We [were] very scared, "Ewa recalled.
They had a good reason to be scared.
Speaking by telephone in Krakow through a translator, Lucyna, 69, said her brother witnessed the attacks on the Twin Towers because he was working on a construction site in Lower Manhattan that morning. Like thousands, Henryk was forced to flee the area. The way [on] the bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn, & # 39; and then & # 39; He went by subway to his house & # 39;
There he managed to call his wife late in the afternoon. "We talk," Ewa recalled, noting that there was no way Henryk was fully aware of what he had just witnessed "because his TV [was] out of service "and did not speak or understand English very well.
"I asked him," No, please, leave your house this day, "Ewa said." He agreed with me, but what happens next I do not know exactly. But I think someone called him and offered him a job. & # 39; Ewa, his voice calmed down, he added: & # 39; And this hardworking man was & # 39;
Lucyna explained that Henryk was "crazy" for making money for his family in Poland and "probably felt he had to work that day." Despite what he had just witnessed, he started looking for a replacement job immediately after returning home and found a – The defective temporary help agency wanted an ad in the Polish newspaper Super Express: "Men to Clean Stores" in Brooklyn and Queens. English is not necessary.
The agency offered Henryk a night swallow to mop floors at a Pathmark supermarket. Although he worked mainly in construction, he accepted anyway.
United Airlines flight 175 hijacked from Boston crashes into the south tower of the World Trade Center and explodes at 9.03 a.m. of September 11, 2001.
2,753 people died in New York on September 11, 2001, when two hijacked commercial aircraft crashed into the World Trade Center.
The photograph above is a color photograph of a New York rescue worker in the midst of the wreckage of the World Trade Center after the September 11 attacks
Henryk was told to meet a man at 1525 Albany Avenue in Farragut, Brooklyn. She put on a pair of black boots, camouflage pants and a matching coat she had bought in the Salvation Army, which her sister noticed was her favorite because they were very comfortable. He also threw a pair of extra shoes and pants in a backpack and asked his landlady, Anna, for help, with instructions. The two consulted a map and she, by mistake, pointed it out exactly at the opposite end of Albany Avenue from where she had to go. Henryk, carrying the supermarket address scribbled on paper, left his Beach 91st Street apartment in Rockaway and set off on the A train to the heart of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, nearly four miles north of his destination.
While Henryk was heading in the wrong direction on the subway, Sharonnie Perry was sitting in front of her building on 7 Albany Avenue. "It was September 11, everything had just happened that day, and the people were still outside in amazement at what had happened," he said.
Like the majority in the city, Perry, who is now 64 years old, was not "concentrated" that night, but she remembers seeing Henryk. His camouflage suit was out of place, and "nobody could understand, he did not speak English," he said. & # 39; I guess you just got lost. & # 39;
After wandering for a while, "I saw [Henryk] Going down the block, "Perry continued. "I saw these guys behind him."
Perry personally knew most of her neighbors or her appearance, but she did not recognize the group that, according to her, was following Henryk on Albany Avenue. Now, almost two decades later, he can only remember that they were "three or four" African-American men.
Beyond that, "he simply did not register," he said. & # 39; I do not know how they looked. I do not know what they were wearing. It was dark outside and they were on the opposite side [of the street] where I lived & # 39;
At 11.42pm, 18 minutes before the deadliest day in the city's history ended, Mona Miller, a neighbor at 121 Decatur Street, at the intersection of Albany Avenue, near where Perry sat, said later that He listened to the men talking and arguing. & # 39;
Then the chaos erupted.
"All I heard was the shooting," Perry recalled. "People just started to scatter all over the place, because you did not know where [they were] coming from and you did not know what was happening. "
Henryk's attacker squeezed seven cartridges with a .40 caliber pistol. A bullet went through the chest and lung of the Pole. Dripping blood, he staggered across the street, climbed Decatur's porch and rang the building bell.
"I heard the sound of the bell, but I was not responding after hearing the shots," a Brownstone resident reportedly told investigators.
Even if the person had opened the door, it would not have mattered. Henryk, 46, dropped his backpack, staggered down the stairs and fell face down on the sidewalk, still holding the piece of paper with the instructions in his hand.
The 79th precinct response to 911 calls was swift, but its number was limited since most of the investigators and the Crime Scene Unit of the Police Department were still tied to the terrorist attacks that same day.
The precinct suffered 25 murders in 2001. Everyone, with the exception of Henryk, had on average between six and eight detectives scouring the scene for evidence and witnesses, then Lt. Tom Joyce, who left the NYPD, said in an interview in 2016. Without the fault of the police department, there was almost no one left over for this Polish immigrant. "I sent a detective over there, with a Polaroid camera, who took a picture," Joyce said. "It was really unfortunate."
With so few clues to continue, the authorities, the family and the public are left with little more than theories about what might have happened that night.
Henryk's last moments were at this intersection of Decateur and Albany Avenue in the Bed-Stuy area of Brooklyn. He was shot across the street from the steps in the immediate foreground, in the park. He crossed the street, climbed the steps of a red-stone house, went down and died on the sidewalk
The front of the building on Decatur Street, where Henryk fell dead. "We continue to talk to the people who are arrested in that area to see if anyone could have been around or heard something about the incident, but nothing has come so far," said Detective George Harvey, who was in 79th place. seal when Henryk was killed and is currently responsible for the cold case, he said in an interview several years ago. It's just a matter of finding the right guy with the right information. There is a person who saw, knew or heard about that. "
Was Henryk a victim of a robbery? Possibly, but the idea was largely discredited since he found it with his wallet in his back pocket and over $ 75 in cash and change.
Another popular theory was that the Polish native could have been mistaken for a terrorist. To this day, Lucyna wonders if Henryk's darker complexion, his unusual choice of work clothes and his inability to speak or understand English, raised the alarm among locals or covert policemen in the tense post-attack atmosphere.
Perry rejected the idea. "Why would a terrorist be in the middle of Bed-Stuy because of something that happened at the World Trade Center?" He asked. & # 39; Let's face it. & # 39;
Lucyna has not heard from detectives since 2005, but said the hypothesis was that, although there was little evidence to prove it, her brother's killers were probably a "teen gang" that "had to kill a man" to be started in an area gang.
Whatever the case, of the large number of people outside or living a few meters from where Henryk lost his life, no eyewitness to the shooting has presented details or information that could shed light on the murder.
Detective George Harvey, who was in precinct 79 when Henryk died and is currently responsible for the case, said in an interview several years ago that researchers have always believed that one day they would find the "right man with the right information". someone arrested for an unrelated crime and willing to exchange information for a deal.
Perry, currently the director of community relations at the Interreligious Medical Center in Brooklyn, located two blocks from where Henryk died, is not so sure that the mystery is ever resolved.
"If anyone knows anything, it would be the people who did it," she said, frustrated by not being able to access any other specific memories of the men she saw that night. "That was the only murder in the whole city on that day, and I do not remember."
Since the death of Henyrk, his loved ones have had trouble trying to move forward as well.
& # 39; He left home and I do not know what happened; for 17 years I do not know what happened, "Ewa said.
& # 39; I'm 66 years old now & # 39 ;, continued. & # 39; I'm working full time. My husband was a hard worker, but I am a strong woman. I went and I will be. There is only one option for me: be strong for my children.
Still, she added that the police may one day find whoever killed her husband, "I have a bit of hope … a little, little hope."
- If you have information related to the murder of Henryk Siwiak on September 11, 2001, contact the NYPD Crime Stoppers Program at 800-577-TIPS or crimestoppers.nypdonline.org. All advice can be anonymous, and any that leads to the arrest and accusation of the author can result in a cash reward.