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Experts probe human remains at Vatican embassy

November 7, 2018

Italian police are hunting for clues after the discovery of a human skeleton on the grounds of the Vatican embassy in Rome. The grisly find has led to speculation about the fate of a schoolgirl who disappeared in 1983.

A policeman outside the Vatican embassy in Rome
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/A. Medichini

Italian investigators have discovered more bones on the grounds of the Vatican embassy in Rome, a week after an almost intact skeleton was unearthed during building work at the site.

According to local media reports Tuesday, police excavating beneath the property's basement found what appeared to be parts of a skull and a lower jaw.

Forensic teams are working to identify the age and gender of the body and the approximate date of death, amid speculation the remains could belong to Emanuela Orlandi, the 15-year-old daughter of a Vatican policeman, who went missing in 1983 .

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Searching for answers

The latest find came after builders restoring a floor in the janitor's lodge found a human skeleton on October 29.

Coroner Giovanni Arcudi said Tuesday that preliminary examinations of those remains indicated they belonged to a woman probably in her 30s, "not an adolescent."

A lawyer for Orlandi's family, Laura Sgro, said that didn't necessarily rule out a match with Emanuela because some have suggested the 15-year-old may have been held for years against her will rather than being killed immediately.

Sgro told the ANSA news agency her clients are still waiting for DNA results.

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Wild stories

Emanuela Orlandi was last seen on June 22, 1983, leaving her flute lesson near Piazza Navona in Rome. According to one theory, she was abducted to force the release from prison of Mehmet Ali Agca, the man who attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II in 1981.

Another theory claimed Orlandi was taken by an organized crime gang to pressure Vatican officials to recover a loan, and was later buried in the grave of a Rome mafia boss near her music school.

Gabriele Amorth, the chief exorcist for the diocese of Rome, said Orlandi was kidnapped for erotic parties involving clergy and staff from a foreign embassy to the Holy See.

The ANSA news agency reported that prosecutors are also looking into whether the remains could belong to Mirella Gregori, another teenager who disappeared just 40 days before Orlandi. Others believe the body could be the wife of a custodian who lived on the Holy See territory in the 1960s.

Employed by the Italian Mafia

nm/cmk (AP, AFP, KNA, epd)

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