A former FBI employee who was one of the personnel sent to guard the September 11, 2001 Flight 93 crash site, claims in a book she wrote after she retired from the FBI, that she saw a legion of angels at the scene.
According to Lillie Leonardi, who retired from the FBI due to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) she suffered after the terror attacks, she saw a cohort of angels standing in the smoldering remains of the passenger jet that crashed in a field at Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Daily Mail reports that Leonardi, who says she now practices "spiritualism," was brought up a devout Catholic. She worked with the FBI as a liaison officer between law enforcement and the families of the victims.
According to The Huffington Post, Leonardi described seeing burning pine and feeling jet fuel stinging her nostrils when she arrived at the scene. She described seeing a smoldering crater littered with debris. She 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."
According to Leonardi, in her book titled "In the Shadow of a Badge: A Spiritual Memoir,"
"[a] white mist then began to take shape. It moved and swirled in patterns of spectacular white light. All at once, the mist took full shape and I saw what appeared to be angels. There were angels standing in the open area to the left of the crash site. There were hundreds of them standing in columns. There was a field of angels emerging from the realms of the mist. They were Archangels with their wings arched up toward the sky."
Leonardi said she did not say anything to her fellow agents when she saw the angels. She said: "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.'"
CBS Pittsburgh reports Leonardi said she saw a Bible from the plane that had hardly been touched by the flames. She said: "All of a sudden this huge wind came out of nowhere and flipped that Bible open and I remember it flipped open to Psalm 23, 'The Lord is my shepherd...'"
The Washington Post reports Leonardi argues in her book that her life has been changed more by what she didn’t see that day. According to CBS Pittsburgh, she said: "The biggest thing for me is that that there were no bodies. 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 she kept the vision to herself while she suffered PTSD, but as her condition improved she began confiding in friends. Daily Mail reports that Kenneth McCabe, her former supervisor, said: "I believe her. I know she believes 100 per cent that's what she saw. I know she's a sane person so I'm not going to discount what she says she saw."
The Huffington Post reports that McCabe, 59, is now retired and lives near Cocoa Beach, Fla. He was chief of the FBI's operational response section that sent laboratory teams to gather evidence from the sites of September 11, 2001 attacks. He later became special agent in charge of the FBI's Pittsburgh Field Office.
McCabe hinted that he understands why the crash site might have made a deep impression on Leonardi. He said: "I was there one day when they brought a busload of family members to overlook the site... and I teared up. Just because these people had the thousand-yard stare. They didn't have any closure. They didn't have any bodies to look at. They didn't have anything to look at. At least in New York and Washington, there was the devastation, but here, except for seeing someone off in the distance, in the woods, looking for things, there was nothing."
Daily Mail reports that the Reverend Ron Lengwin, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, says Leonardi is a personal friend. He said: "I have no reason to believe that she did not see angels. It's not surprising to me that God could choose to say that he was present there to give comfort to people, and to give comfort to the people who were there to give comfort to other people."
The Huffington Post reports Leonardi befriended some Flight 93 family members, but none agreed to be interviewed for her book. However, Lisa Linden, spokeswoman for the Families of Flight 93, praised the FBI for their "extraordinary work." She said: "The crash site and sacred ground – now central to the Flight 93 National Memorial – is a place that elicits powerful reactions from those who work at the site and who visit."
Leonardi said she wrote about her visions after more than 10 years to comfort the families of those who died in the crash and others affected by it. She explained: "The purpose of the book is to tell the story of the angels being there so that other people understand that God was there."
The United Airlines Flight 93 from Newark in New Jersey to San Francisco, California, was hijacked by four al-Qaeda terrorists on September 11, 2001. The men hijacked the plane 45 minutes after take-off. Passengers aboard the plane tried to regain control but during the struggle the plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, killing all passengers on the flight.
Daily Mail reports that Leonardi, who lives in Arnold, Pennsylvania, became a police officer in 1984. According to The Washington Post, Leonardi has no doubt about what she saw, but wonders why she had to be the one to see it. She said: “You get pregnant and married at 16, that’s not exactly, you know, holy material. To this day I know I saw those angels, I’ve never doubted that. What I doubted was, why me?”