McNeal was an analyst at Sandler O'Neill & Partners, one of 67 investment bank employees trapped in the World Trace Center's south tower.
After the first plane hit the north tower, McNeal called his mother, Kitty, in Towson, Md., from his 104th-floor office and left a message on the answering machine: "The crash was over in Tower One. I'm going to get the heck out of Dodge in a few minutes."
Then McNeal called his father, Michael, dying of lung cancer at a hospice, and told him not to worry.
"As soon as his father hung up the phone, he [saw] the plane hit the second tower" on the news, cousin Stacy Danko said. "It's horrible."
McNeal graduated from Boston College in 1994 with a bachelor's degree in finance, and earned a master's in business administration from Georgetown University in 1996. He started his job at Sandler O'Neill less than a year ago.
As the search for more bodies continues, Danko said, the family counts itself lucky that its own ordeal has ended.
"The thing that's given us the most comfort," she said, "was that they sent us his body."