Vatican closes 2019 investigation into case of long-missing Italian teen, Emanuela Orlandi

Scientists study bones found under a floor in the Teutonic College Credit Vatican Media Scientists study bones found under a floor in the Teutonic College. | Vatican Media.

The Holy See press office stated Thursday that a Vatican judge has formally closed an investigation opened last year related to the missing Italian teenager, Emanuela Orlandi.

The investigation authorized the opening of two tombs in the cemetery of the Teutonic College, which sits on Vatican-owned property adjacent to the city state, at the request of the family of the girl who disappeared in Rome in 1983.

Scientific tests carried out in July 2019 on bone fragments found in connection to the investigation revealed the bones to be too old to be Orlandi's remains, according to Vatican statements at the time.

"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 April 30 press release stated.

The Vatican statement said the dismissal of the investigation allows the Orlandi family to carry out further investigations on discovered bone fragments privately should they wish to do so.

Orlandi was the daughter of an envoy of the prefecture of the pontifical house and a citizen of Vatican City State. Her disappearance at age 15 in June 1983 has been one of Italy's biggest unsolved mysteries and, since it occured, the subject of international intrigue, including speculation about the Vatican's role.

The Vatican City State's promoter of justice authorized last year the opening of the tombs of two noblewomen after Orlandi's family received an anonymous note alleging a clue to the girl's disappearance could be found in the tombs next to a statue of an angel in the Teutonic College cemetery.

The tombs were found to be empty of any human remains when opened on July 11, 2019. Two ossuaries filled with partial bones and bone fragments were subsequently found under the pavement of a room in the college adjacent to the tombs. 

The bone fragments were analyzed by forensic anthropologist Giovanni Arcudi and his staff in the presence of an expert appointed by the Orlandi family.

On July 29, 2019 the Vatican communicated that the bones were all found to pre-date the 20th century -- and therefore could not be from the missing teen.

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