Emanuela Orlandi disappearance: Vatican reopens 40-year-old case

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Emanuela Orlandi disappearance: Vatican reopens 40-year-old case
The Orlandi family, which is represented by lawyer Laura Sgro (pictured above), has fought tirelessly to find answers about the missing teenager. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

The Vatican announced on Tuesday that it was opening a new inquiry into the 1983 disappearance of teenager Emanuela Orlandi, a case which has sparked countless theories and hit Netflix series Vatican Girl.


Emanuela Orlandi, the 15-year-old daughter of a Vatican employee, was last seen leaving a music class in Rome on June 22nd, 1983.

Decades of speculation followed the teenager's disappearance, with theories ranging from mob-related crimes to Vatican conspiracies.

The case was also the subject of hit Netflix series Vatican Girl in 2022.


The Vatican's chief prosecutor, Alessandro Diddi, "has opened a file, based in part on requests made by the family", a spokesman said.

However, it was not exactly clear what specifically had triggered the inquiry, with the Orlandi family saying they were still waiting for details.

"We don't know what the Vatican will do... which papers they want to review, the papers of the investigation by the Rome prosecutors or if they have a file to share," family lawyer Laura Sgro told AFP.

"The Vatican has never done anything up until now," she said.

"I have been asking to be heard by top figures in the Vatican for years... but unfortunately some people are already dead."

Orlandi's family has fought tirelessly over the past four decades to find out what happened to the teenager.

According to one theory widely circulated by Italian media, she was snatched by mobsters looking to put pressure on the Vatican to recover a loan.

Enrico De Pedis, head of the Magliana gang, was suspected of involvement in her kidnapping and some speculated the youngster might be buried alongside him.

However, DNA tests on boxes of bones in his tomb failed to find a match.

Another claim often repeated in the press was that she was taken to force the release from prison of Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish national who attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II in 1981.

In 2017, conspiracy specialists were driven into a frenzy by a leaked – but apparently forged – document, purportedly written by a cardinal and pointing to a Vatican cover-up.

In 2019, the Vatican dug up two burial chambers in the search for Orlandi but said no recent bones were found.


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