Vatican to dig up graves in search for teen who went missing 36 years - International | NTV

Vatican to dig up graves in search for teen who went missing 36 years ago

Thursday July 11, 2019

 

The Vatican will dig up two graves Thursday after an anonymous tip-off that they may contain the remains of an Italian teenager who went missing 36 years ago.


Emanuela Orlandi, the daughter of Vatican employee, was last seen leaving a music class aged 15, and theories have circulated for decades about who took her and where her body may lie.


Orlandi's brother Pietro, who has campaigned tirelessly for the Vatican to open an investigation into her disappearance, will be present when the graves are opened at the Teutonic Cemetery.


The exhumation comes after the family's lawyer received a tip-off with a picture of an angel-topped grave in the cemetery, and a message which simply read: "Look where the angel is pointing".


The small, leafy cemetery, located on the original site of the Emperor Nero circus, is usually the last resting place for German-speaking members of Catholic institutions.


Beyond St Peter's Basilica, in an area off-limits to tourists, neat rows of tombstones lie behind a wrought-iron gate, some shaded by palm trees, others bordered by pink roses.

The tombs that will be opened belong to two princesses, buried in 1836 and 1840.

The remains found within will be removed and examined on-site by Italian forensic anthropologist Giovanni Arcudi.

He expects to be able to roughly date the bones within about five hours, he said in an interview published by the Vatican on Wednesday.

"The state of conservation of the bones is what will determine the time required.

"Much depends on the environmental conditions, on the microclimate in which they are found, on the humidity, on the presence of infiltrations, on possible actions of microfauna," he said.

It will be possible to say "whether a bone has been there 50 years or 150 years".

He expects to be able to determine the gender and whether or not the remains belong to more than one person per tomb.

Arcudi will extract material for DNA analysis, regardless of his initial findings.


"The DNA test will be done in any case, in order to be certain and to exclude definitively and categorically the chance that any remains in the two tombs are attributable to poor Emanuela," he said.

Results could take up to 60 days, he added.