Vatican to open tombs in search for teen missing since 1983

A Vatican court has ordered two tombs be opened after the family of a teenage girl who went missing in 1983 received a tip about the location of her remains.

The family of Emanuela Orlandi said they received a tip that she may be buried in Teutonic Cemetery in the Vatican.

The tombs, at the Vatican’s Teutonic Cemetery, are scheduled to be opened July 11 in the search for Emanuela Orlandi.

She disappeared June 22, 1983, on her way to a music lesson. Her family later received communications from someone who said they were holding the 15-year-old hostage in exchange for the release of Mehmet Ali Agca, who was serving a life sentence in prison for shooting Pope John Paul II in 1981.

The family has received a number of clues over the 36 years since Emanuela Orlandi’s disappearance, including one involving bone and teeth fragments found during a construction project. This one led them to the cemetery.


“Last summer, I received an envelope,” family lawyer Laura Sgro told NBC News. “I opened it and there was a picture of the state of an angel in the Teutonic Cemetery inside the Vatican. And a letter that simply said, ‘If you want to find Emanuela, search where the angel looks.'”

The Vatican opened an internal investigation in April into Emanuela Orlandi’s disappearance.

Emanuela Orlandi’s brother, Pietro Orlandi welcomed the probe “after 35 years of lack of cooperation.” He said he wants the truth to emerge.


“Among the issues are those linked to the discrepancies in the affair, the international legal probe requests that did not succeed, and then the possibility of questioning some cardinals and the request to hear from Giancarlo Capaldo, the magistrate who investigated Emanuela’s disappearance in 2012 and who, after being contacted by the Vatican, went to see an authoritative prelate for a sort of ‘negotiation’ on the case,” Pietro Orlandi said.

ByDanielle Haynes