On June 22nd, 1983 at the age of 15 Emanuela Orlandi was last seen taking the bus home from a music lesson in Rome before her mysterious disappearance. She was the daughter of a clerk of the Prefecture of the Papal Household and a citizen of Vatican City.

The unsolved case was the subject of extreme media attention in Italy, having been officially closed in 2016 with no more leads. However, in early July of last year the tombs of Princesses Sophie von Hohenlohe and Charlotte Federica at the Vatican Cemetery were opened after an anonymous call tipped them off.

The two tombs were found empty, the remains moved as the result of renovations in the 60s and 70s that expanded the Pontifical Teutonic College. However, an investigation found two ossuaries hidden under trap doors nearby. Inside were several hundred partially intact bones and thousands of fragments.

A “morphological analysis” of the remains in last August by a team of forensic anthropologists found the bones to predate the end of the 19th century, far too old to be Orlandi’s.

After nearly a year without new leads, a Vatican judge formally closed the case on April 30th because there was no connection between the bone’s found and Orlandi. A Holy See Press Office Communiqué said:

“Hence the request for dismissal [of the investigation], that closes one of the chapters of the sad incident, in which Vatican authorities have offered, since the beginning, the widest collaboration.”

The communiqué also said the closing of the case means the Orlandi family can continue their own investigation privately:

“In this spirit, the measure to [close the case] leaves it up to the Orlandi family to proceed, privately, with any further investigations on fragments already found and kept, in sealed containers, at the Gendarmerie.”

A missing persons photo of Emanuela Orlandi.


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