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

The tombs of two princesses in the Vatican's Teutonic Cemetery have been opened and found to be empty

The tombs of two princesses in the Vatican's Teutonic Cemetery have been opened and found to be empty

The letter suggested they "seek where the angel indicates", leading the family to the Teutonic cemetery which contains a statue of an angel pointing. The cemetery just behind St. Peter's Basilica is the final resting place of royals, cardinals, artists.

The mystery behind the disappearance of an Italian teen 36 years ago intensified Thursday as the tombs of two 19th-century princesses buried at the Vatican were unsealed.

The brother of long-missing Emanuela Orlandi, Pietro, attended the exhumation of two Vatican graves on Thursday as local officials searched for any trace of his sister.

She was last seen on the 22 June 1983 at a bus stop in the centre of Rome on her way home from a flute lesson. Now it may have sparked a brand new mystery. The Vatican agreed to open two tombs near the angel, that of Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe, who died in 1836, and Princess Charlotte Frederica of Mecklenburg, who died in 1840.

The Vatican said in a statement that the opening of the tombs "yielded a negative outcome".

Searchers not only didn't find Emanuela's bones - unexpectedly, they found no remains at all.

This picture taken on Wednesday, July 10, 2019 shows the view of the Teutonic Cemetery inside the Vatican.

"Careful inspection of the tomb of Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe has unearthed a large underground compartment of about 4 meters by 3.7, completely empty", he said.

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Asked to describe the procedure in detail, Professor Arcudi said he will "apply the global protocols that are used for the identification of skeletal remains for their classification and dating and for all the diagnoses that can be made in forensic anthropology, in order to establish age, gender, stature and so on".

The Vatican confirmed that "the outcome of the search has been negative", according to ANSA.

"The tombs are empty. We are all amazed", Orlandi family lawyer Laura Sgro told reporters.

Emanuela's mother still lives within Vatican City. 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. So far there has been no solid evidence in the case at all. After persistent rumors that her body was concealed in the grave of a Roman mobster, police opened his tomb in 2012. After which they can establish whether the skeletal remains "belong to different people, other than the two who were buried there".

Last summer, the family received yet another anonymous tip.

In March, a lawyer for the family revealed they had been sent a letter with a photo of an angel above a tomb in the Vatican's Teutonic Cemetery, a medieval cemetery now reserved mainly for German-speaking priests and members of religious orders. Opening the tombs at the family's request was another sign of that concern.

A second, similar grave alongside the first was also opened to rule out any misunderstandings over which grave was meant. There were renovations carried out in the cemetery at the end of the 1800's, and then again in the 1960s and 1970s.

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