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Thousands of Bones Discovered in Vatican While Searching For Long-Missing Teen

The bones are believed to belong to “dozens of people.”

  • The search for a missing teen in the Vatican City led to the discovery of two ossuaries containing unidentified human bones
  • It remains to be seen if any of those bones belonged to Emanuela Orlandi
  • Emanuela went missing in 1983 and her case was one of the most popular cold cases in Italy

Forensic experts have discovered thousands of bones inside two Vatican ossuaries while unraveling the mystery of Emanuela Orlandi’s disappearance from more than 30 years ago. The search for Orlandi has taken a twist as two ossuaries – or burial chambers – located next to a Vatican cemetery have been unearthed.

It remains to be seen if any of the thousands of bones discovered belonged to Orlandi, who went missing in 1983 on her way home after a music lesson.

Emanuela Orlandi’s disappearance was never solved.

Emanuela was the daughter of the Vatican Bank clerk and lived within the Holy City. In the summer of 1983, she vanished. Her disappearance has sparked conspiracy theories and has been linked to criminal gangs, Bulgarian agents, and the C.I.A.

The Orlandi family never stopped pressing investigators to solve Emanuela’s case. Earlier this year, the family received an anonymous tip instructing them to “look where the angel is pointing.”

This led investigators to the Teutonic Cemetery, where the remains of two 19th-century German princesses, Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe and Princess Charlotte Federica of Mecklenburg, are kept.

Forensic investigators were given permission to pry open the tombs on July 11.

Emanuela’s 60-year-old brother, Pietro, was around to watch. However, the search was futile as the tombs were empty. Investigators didn’t find any remains, whether it’s from Pietro’s sister or the German princesses.

The Vatican said that the remains of the royalties may have been moved when the cemetery and surrounding buildings underwent renovation in the 1960s and 1970s.

Less than 10 days after it was confirmed that there’s no evidence of Emanuela’s remains in the cemetery, experts found two ossuaries (storage rooms or chambers for dead people’s bones), in which “thousands” of bones were discovered.

The bones are believed to belong to “dozens of people.”

Vatican spokesperson Alessandro Gisotti said that there may be bone fragments coming from the same bone, as they were shattered, which then make them appear many. Each set of remains will now go through DNA analysis.

The mystery of Emanuela’s disappearance remains unsolved but Pietro describes the investigation to the ossuaries as a “great satisfaction.” He said:

“In the ossuaries, there shouldn’t be any recent bones, so if there are, even if it’s not Emanuela Orlandi, it will be a problem for the Vatican. There are hundreds, thousands of bones and now the Vatican is classifying them by age and will investigate the more recent ones.”


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