Vatican CITY: The mystery surrounding the disappearance of an Italian teenager 36 years ago deepened on Thursday after two graves in the Vatican thought that possibly to hold her remains were discovered as empty.
Not only was the body of Emanuela Orlandi not found, the graves do not even contain the skeletons of the two princesses who were to be buried there.
"The last thing I expected was to find empty graves," said her brother Pietro Orlandi, 60, who never stopped finding his sister alive.
The excavation followed an anonymous tip that the Teutonic Cemetery in the small city-state might be the last resting place of Orlandi, the daughter of a Vatican worker.
She was last seen when she left a music lesson of 15.
Theories have been circulating for decades about who caught her and where her body might lie.
"We are frankly surprised," said Laura Sgro, the lawyer for the Orlandi family.
"The family has the right to know what happened: 36 years have passed, there have been three different popes in the Vatican," she said.
"Someone knows, and keeps silent about & # 39; omerta & # 39; or fear, Emanuela must be found, contact us, & # 39; added Sgro.
The family had received a photo of a grave with an angel on it at the cemetery and a message that simply read: "Look at what the angel is pointing to".
A second, comparable grave in addition to the first was also opened to rule out any misunderstandings about which grave was meant.
The graves belonged to two princesses, buried in 1836 and 1840.
The small, green cemetery, located on the original site of the circus of Emperor Nero, is usually the last resting place for German-speaking members of Catholic institutions.
Beyond St. Peter's Basilica, in an area forbidden to tourists, neat rows of tombstones lie behind a wrought-iron gate, some shaded by palm trees, others bordered by pink roses.
But on Thursday white gazebos were set up above the graves.
White-fit and masked forensic scientists tied to headlights to climb down and search the underground room.
Clinical devices reserved for measuring recovered bones are unused on a nearby table.
The Vatican said it had told the princesses' descendants that their remains were missing.
It said it would look at work done on the graves in the 19th century, and again in the 1960s and 1970s, trying to figure out what happened to them.
Dozens of journalists and mass & # 39; s curious tourists gathered at the entrance of the Vatican, closest to the cemetery.
Supporters of the Orlandi family waited outside, in T-shirts that said "The Truth Sets Us Free" and "Where Is Her Body?"
"This mystery is part of this country's dark history," Sgro said, referring to a series of decades-old cases in Italy, held by unanswered questions and loved by conspiracy theorists.
According to some theories that circulated frequently in the Italian media, a gangster gang kidnapped Orlandi to put pressure on the Vatican to get a loan back.
Another claim that was often repeated in the press was that she was taken to force the release from the prison of Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turk who tried to kill Pope John Paul II in 1981.
The family braced themselves for a possible breakthrough last year, when human remains were found in an accommodation in the Vatican City in Rome.
In 2017, conspiracy specialists were driven to madness by a leaked – but seemingly fake – document, allegedly written by a cardinal and pointing to a cover-up from the Vatican.
Five years earlier, forensic experts who locked up the grave of a notorious crime boss in a church in the Vatican, uncovered some 400 boxes of bones.
Enrico De Pedis, head of the Magliana gang, was suspected of being involved in the kidnapping of Orlandi. It was speculated that the young person could be buried next to him – but DNA tests could not find a match.
(tagsToTranslate) Emanuela Orlandi (t) Pietro Orlandi (t) German cemetery (t) Vatican