Bones found after tombs exhumed in hunt for girl who went missing in Vatican City 30 years ago


Thirty years after the disappearance of the 15-year old daughter of a Vatican City employee, a case that has mystified Rome for decades, the Vatican has announced that two sets of bones have been found under a stone manhole cover in one of its cemeteries.  

A request from the family of the missing girl, Emanuela Orlandi, prompted the Vatican to open the tombs of two 19th-century German princesses in the cemetery of the Pontifical Teutonic College on Thursday this week. The family had received an anonymous tip that Orlandi’s remains might be buried in that area of the cemetery. 

However, after two hours of work, the team found the graves completely empty – containing neither the expected remains of the princesses or any clues to the more modern mystery.  

Following the fruitless exhumation, Vatican police decided to hold new searches in the area of the cemetery where the remains of Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe, who died in 1836, and Princess Carlotta Federica of Mecklenburg, who died in 1840, should have been. 

Vatican authorities said their bones could have been moved over the years due to structural works at the cemetery in the 1960s and 1970s.

Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said Saturday the searches had centered on the area adjacent to the princesses’ tombs, inside the Pontifical Teutonic College. There investigators identified two ossuaries – or set of bones – located under the pavement of an area covered by a manhole. 


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