Vatican opens probe into missing girl Emanuela Orlandi | News | DW | 10.04.2019
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Vatican opens probe into missing girl Emanuela Orlandi

After more than 35 years, Vatican City is opening an investigation into the disappearance of 15-year-old Emanuela Orlandi. It comes after an anonymous tip-off in a letter that said to "look where the angel is pointing."

Vatican City is opening a probe into the disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi, a 15-year-old Vatican citizen who vanished on 22 June, 1983, a lawyer for the Orlandi family said Wednesday.

Orlandi, the daughter of a member of the Vatican's police, was last seen leaving a music class, and the case has gripped Italy for more than 35 years, with countless theories as to who took her and why, as well as where her body may lie.

"The Secretariat of State has authorized the opening of an investigation into a grave in the Teutonic Cemetery inside the Vatican," Laura Sgro told the Associated Press.

The investigation comes after Sgro received a tip-off via an anonymous letter.

"Look where the angel is pointing," the letter read, in what is presumed to be a reference to an angel statue near the grave of Princess Sofia and Cardinal Prince Gustav von Hohenlohe-Schillingsfuerst in the Teutonic Cemetery.

That cemetery is the oldest German Catholic institution in Rome and is home to the graves of distinguished German or Flemish-speaking Catholics who lived in the Italian capital.

People attend a demonstration at St. Peter's Square at Vatican city for a petition for the truth about what happened to Emanuela Orlandi (picture-alliance/dpa/Coli/Eidon/Ropi)

The case of missing teenager Emanuela Orlandi has gripped Italy for more than 35 years

Tomb had been opened

After the tip-off, defensive investigations started by carrying out checks on the state of the area and it was discovered that the tomb was opened at least once and that the dating of the statue is different from that of the prince and princess's grave stone, the Italian Corriere della Sera newspaper reported.

The investigation also "verified that some people had been informed of the possibility that the remains of Emanuela Orlandi had been hidden in the Teutonic Cemetery," the Corriere della Sera reported Sgro as saying.

The Vatican had previously said it was handling a request from the Orlandi family to reopen a tomb close to the statue of an angel holding a sheet bearing the words "Rest in peace."

Remains tested for DNA

The case garnered fresh attention at the end of October when two sets of remains were found in the basement of the Vatican Nunciature, an extraterritorial Church property located in Rome's city center.

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The identification of at least one of the bodies as female led to speculation in Italy that the findings might eventually shed light on the case.

Investigators said at the time that preliminary examinations of the bones indicated they belonged to a woman likely in her 30s. But, despite the age of the bones, Sgro said they would wait for DNA results.

One hypothesis for Orlandi's disappearance is that she was not killed immediately but instead held against her will.

Other theories allege the teenager was taken by an organized crime gang to put pressure on Vatican officials to recover a loan, or that she was taken as a negotiating tool to force the prison release of Mehmet Ali Agca, a Turkish man who attempted to assassinate Pope Jean Paul II in 1981.

law/msh (AFP, AP, dpa)

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