"'If you want to find Emanuela, search where the angel looks,'" said an anonymous letter sent to Emanuela Orlandi's family's lawyer

By Ashley Boucher
July 03, 2019 10:46 PM
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The Vatican has agreed to open two tombs in connection to the mysterious disappearance of a girl who first went missing 36 years ago, after an anonymous tip was sent to her family’s lawyer last summer.

The family of Emanuela Orlandi — the 15-year-old daughter of a Vatican employee who disappeared while returning home from a music lesson in 1983 — received an anonymous letter through their lawyer last year that suggested her remains could be buried in the Teutonic Cemetery.

“Last summer, I received an envelope,” the Orlandi family’s lawyer, Laura Sgrò, told NBC News. “I opened it and there was a picture of the statue of an angel in the Teutonic Cemetery inside the Vatican. And a letter that simply said, ‘If you want to find Emanuela, search where the angel looks.'”

The cemetery is the home to German and Austrian citizens, according to the Times of London.

Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti told NBC News about the announcement to open the graves, a decision that seemed to impress Sgrò.

“On church standards, the decision was pretty swift,” she told the outlet. “We are cautious about this, as there were many leads in the past that proved to be unfounded, but it’s worth trying.”

Emanuela Orlandi
| Credit: Mondadori Portfolio/Getty Images

The tombs will be opened on July 11, with members of the Orlandi family present in addition to relatives of others buried there.

Though Sgrò expressed caution, Emanuela’s brother Pietro told NBC News that he is hopeful the tip will prove fruitful.

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“It’s a rumor that has been circulating within the Vatican for a while now,” he said. “If it turns out she really is buried there, there will be many people inside the Vatican who will have to be held accountable and answer difficult questions.”

Emanuela’s disappearance has long been a source of speculation for Italian news outlets, according to Reuters. The outlet also said that at the time of her disappearance, police did not rule out the possibility that Emanuela could have been abducted or killed for reasons unrelated to the Vatican.

Bones found just last year in the Vatican embassy in Rome renewed interest in Emanuela’s case, though DNA tests came back negative, proving that they did not belong to her, Reuters reported.