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 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.
Photos of Tania Head and newspaper articles:
Head's personal stories of surviving on the 78th floor of the south tower, encountering a dying man who gave her an inscribed wedding ring that she eventually returned to his wife, escaping with the help of 24-year-old Welles Crowther, who is credited with saving the lives of several people and perished when the tower fell and the horrible tale of losing her fiancé Dave in the north tower all seemed so heartbreakingly unbelievable. When a New York Times reporter began asking questions in 2007, her stories began to unravel, and it was revealed that they were all a sham.
"I saw so much suffering on that floor to the degree where it's just something that I don't want to share with anyone," Head said during an on-camera interview with Investigation Discovery before she was revealed to be a fraud. "I've just kind of been keeping it to myself. It's a secret that you carry with you and it becomes a burden because you can't really share it with other people out there."
In the aftermath of the attacks, Head and her captivating tale became the lynchpin of the World Trade Center Survivors' Network in 2004.
During Head's time as president of the organization, she successfully lobbied for survivors to be given access to Ground Zero, and led high-profile politicians, including New York City's then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, on tours through the area.
In 2007 when the New York Times reached out to Head for an interview as part of an anniversary piece they were conducting, Head repeatedly cancelled her scheduled phone interviews and eventually hired a lawyer after the Times reporters sought clarification on vital details about her background.
As suspicion began to mount, Head was removed from her post as president of the survivor's network. The Times is widely credited with uncovering Tania Head as a fraud published its article, debunking many of the claims Head had made, including that she attended both Harvard and Stanford. Both schools confirmed there were no records of a student by her name.
Head was ultimately exposed to be Alicia Esteve Head, a Spanish woman who was in Spain on September 11, 2001. She was taking college courses at the time of the attacks and had never traveled to the U.S. until 2003 when she made a trip to New York with her mother.
Head has remained out of the public eye since being exposed as a fraud. She has not been spotted since 2011.
Multiple books and documentaries have been created about Head, including a book co-authored by Angelo J. Guglielmo, who worked closely with her during their time together at the Survivor's Network.
"We were friends for years and not for a second while I was filming my documentary did I ever suspect her to not be anything but an authentic 9/11 survivor," Guglielmo told Fox and Friends in 2012. "That's how convincing she was."
Guglielmo wrote The Woman Who Wasn't There with Robin Gaby Fisher, which was published in 2012. A documentary by the same name was produced by Meredith Vieira Productions and premiered on Investigation Discovery in April of that year.