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Vatican reopens decades-old cold case of missing girl Emanuela Orlandi

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The Vatican judiciary announced Monday that it will reopen the missing person cold case of a 15-year-old girl who disappeared in 1983 and is the subject of a recent Netflix docuseries.

Pope Francis’s newly appointed head prosecutor, Alessandro Diddi, will lead the probe into the cold-case mystery that has sparked conspiracy theories involving the Holy See and captivated the public for nearly four decades. 

The Vatican plans to conduct a “360-degree job” to leave no stone unturned in the disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi, including the re-examination of all files, reports and testimonies, Italian newspaper La Stampa reported. 

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A demonstrator holds a poster of Emanuela Orlandi reading "Missing" during Pope Benedict XVI's Regina Coeli noon prayer in St. Peter's square, at the Vatican on May 27, 2012. Fifteen-year-old Emanuela Orlandi, the daughter of a Vatican messenger who lived with his family in Vatican City, disappeared in 1983.

A demonstrator holds a poster of Emanuela Orlandi reading “Missing” during Pope Benedict XVI’s Regina Coeli noon prayer in St. Peter’s square, at the Vatican on May 27, 2012. Fifteen-year-old Emanuela Orlandi, the daughter of a Vatican messenger who lived with his family in Vatican City, disappeared in 1983.
(Getty Images)

Orlandi, the daughter of a Vatican employee, was 15 when she vanished on June 22, 1983, while on her way home from a flute lesson in Rome. Her family asked Italian lawmakers to reopen the case last month.

“We are unaware of it, we learn it from the press but we have certainly been waiting to be heard for a year,” attorney for the Orlandi family, Laura Sgrò, told ANSA about the reopening of the probe. 

The news comes months after the release of the four-part Netflix series: “Vatican Girl: The Disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi.” The series featured a new account from a childhood friend who said Orlandi told her a week before she disappeared that a high-ranking Vatican cleric had made sexual advances toward her.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said Monday that the decision to reopen the case, which was shelved in 2016, was based in part “on the request made by the family in various places,” the New York Post reported. 

In 2019, the Vatican ordered the opening of the tombs of two 19th-century German princesses in the cemetery of the Pontifical Teutonic College but no new evidence was found. 

A mural to remember Emanuela Orlandi and Mirella Gregori, girls who disappeared in 1983, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Emanuela Orlandi, a girl who mysteriously disappeared 22 June 1983.

A mural to remember Emanuela Orlandi and Mirella Gregori, girls who disappeared in 1983, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Emanuela Orlandi, a girl who mysteriously disappeared 22 June 1983.
(Getty Images)

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Other theories have linked the teen’s disappearance to Vatican financial scandals and possible criminal elements

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