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At Vatican, empty tombs add new twist to missing girl mystery

At Vatican, empty tombs add new twist to missing girl mystery

Anonymous letter suggests Emanuela Orlandi could be buried at Vatican City cemetery; Amy Kellogg reports from Milan, Italy.

Princess Sophie's tomb led to a large empty underground room and no human remains were found in Princess Carlotta's tomb, he said. "The family members of the two Princesses were informed of the results of the research".

The side-by-side tombs had been marked as the final resting places of Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe, who died in 1836, and Duchess Charlotte Frederica of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, the mother of King Frederick VII of Denmark, who died in 1840.

"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.

Pietro Orlandi said that in a certain sense that no bones were found was "personally a relief", since it would have been upsetting to view remains that might have been those of his sister.

The girl's disappearance has gripped Italians for more than three decades, inspiring conspiracy theories involving everyone from mobsters to global terrorists and the highest echelons of the Vatican. Another claim often repeated in the press was that she was abducted to force the release of Mehmet Ali Agca from prison, who was the Turk who attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II in 1981.

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"There was new cement on it, but we didn't know why or when, we were given no information", Sgro said. So far there has been no solid evidence in the case at all. This sensitivity, he said, is demonstrated yet again on this occasion, by accepting the specific request of the family to go ahead with digging operations in the Vatican's Teutonic Cemetery. His tomb was opened in 2012 but nothing was revealed. They found nothing that didn't belong there. "The letter said: "If you want to find Emanuela, search where the angel is looking.'" The photo was of a marble statue of an angel that looks down on the German princesses" tombs in the Teutonic Cemetery. In February, they petitioned the Vatican Secretary of State to permit the tombs to be opened. DNA tests came back negative.

The family braced for a possible breakthrough previous year, when human remains were found at a Vatican property in Rome, but the bones discovered dated back to an earlier period.

The Vatican tribunal ordered both tombs to be opened, however, as they are immediately next to each other and they have "similar mausoleums - in order to avoid possible misunderstandings about which grave is the indicated grave".

Professor Arcudi can not predict how long the procedure will take: "It depends, precisely, on the state, quality and quantity of the remains that we will find", he says.

The Vatican's next step following the discovery, Gisotti explained, will be to look into documentation about structural renovations that took place in the cemetery at the end of the 1800s and in the 1960s and '70s.


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