No bones found in Vatican tombs searched for missing girl

VATICAN-RELIGION-ITALY-MISSING

The mystery surrounding the disappearance of an Italian teenager 36 years ago deepened yesterday after two graves at the Vatican thought to possibly hold her remains were discovered to be empty.

Orlandi's family received an anonymous letter previous year that told them to "search where the angel looks", along with a picture of an angel statue in the Teutonic Cemetery, located inside the Vatican.

The Vatican issued a statement after this morning's work at the cemetery had concluded saying that the "research had given negative results: no human findings or funerary urns were found....the family members of the two Princesses were informed of the results of the research".

Based on the photo, Vatican officials made a decision to open the graves of two princesses, one of whom was buried there in 1836 and another in 1840.

Then the stone lid of an adjacent sarcophagus of Princess Charlotte Federica di Mecklenburg was removed and inside "no human remains were found", the Vatican said.

The first tomb - which belonged to Princess Sophie Von Hohenlohe - was "completely empty", according to Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti.

The Vatican approved the opening of two tombs, which are located next to each other near the statue in question. Emanuela's father was a Vatican employee, and speculation regarding her disappearance and hypothetical ties with the Vatican have been rife for 36 years.

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Experts were looking for the remains of Emanuela Orlandi, the daughter of a Vatican clerk who failed to return home following a music lesson in Rome.

"If Emanuela is dead and is buried there, it's right that what has been hidden for so many years comes to light", 60-year-old Pietro Orlandi, whose mother still lives within the Vatican walls, told AFP on Wednesday. "We are all amazed", Orlandi family lawyer Laura Sgro said Thursday after the fruitless opening of the tombs. It included a photo of an angel in Vatican City's tiny Teutonic Cemetery.

Searchers not only didn't find Emanuela's bones - unexpectedly, they found no remains at all.

Theories about Orlandi's disappearance have run the gamut from an attempt to secure freedom for Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turk jailed in 1981 for trying to assassinate Pope John Paul II, to a connection to the grave of Enrico De Pedis, a mobster buried in a Rome basilica. Opening the tombs at the family's request was another sign of that concern.

When the family went to visit the site, they noticed that one of the tombs had recently been opened.

Both graves were opened due to their proximity to one another and to "avoid possible misunderstandings about which grave is the indicated grave", a Vatican tribunal said.

The Vatican had announced it had engaged a forensic anthropology expert, a professor of forensic medicine at a Rome university, to examine the remains and prepare them for DNA testing.

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