Vatican bones found to be too old in quest to solve mystery of missing teenager Emanuela Orlandi

Our Foreign Staff
The Vatican is investigating the disappearance of 15-year-old Emanuela Orlandi 36 years ago - AFP

Vatican officials say experts have found no recent bones in their examination of an ossuary as part of a search for a teenager who disappeared 36 years ago - but an expert representing the family of the missing girl has called for more tests on some of the bones.

A Vatican spokesman said a team of specialists, who completed their work Sunday, had found no bones recent enough to match those of Emanuela Orlandi, the missing teenager.

Forensics specialist Giovanni Arcudi, who led the team, said they had found "no bone structure dating back to a period later than the end of the 19th century," according to a statement.

But an expert appointed to represent the Orlandi family's interest has called for more detailed tests on around 70 bones that were not examined because they were judged to be very old.

The Vatican police have taken possession of the remains, pending a court ruling on the question.

Two tombs were opened at the Teutonic Cemetery in relation to the Orlandi case Credit: VATICAN HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/REX

The experts removed thousands of bone fragments from the basement of the Pontifical Teutonic College on July 20, searching for Orlandi's remains following a mysterious message sent to her family via their lawyer.

The message was a picture of an angel-topped grave in the Teutonic cemetery, and a note that simply read: "Look where the angel is pointing."

Although no bones were found there - not even those of the two 19th-century princesses who were meant to be buried there - a further search found bones underneath the college.

The Vatican has said the bones were likely moved during work on the cemetery and college during the 1970s and 1980s.

There have been long-standing claims of a Vatican cover-up over the disappearance of the teenager Credit: Andrew Medichini/AP

Emanuela Orlandi was the daughter of a Vatican City employee. She disappeared on June 22, 1983, aged 15, after leaving a music class.

According to rival theories widely circulated in Italian media, the teen was snatched by mobsters to put pressure on the Vatican to recover a loan; or was taken to force the release from prison of Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turk who attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II in 1981.

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

Five years earlier, experts exhuming the tomb of a notorious crime boss at a Vatican-owned church uncovered some 400 boxes of bones.

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 - but DNA tests failed to find a match.