Bones were collected from the depths of the Vatican Saturday, the latest effort to solve the mystery of a 15-year-old girl who vanished 36 years ago.
Representatives of the family of Emanuela Orlandi, who has been searching for the girl since she went missing from a street in the center of Rome in 1983, were at the Vatican at 9 a.m. local time when the containers holding the bones were unsealed.
Emanuela’s sister, Federica, represented her family along with their lawyer, Laura Sgro, and a forensic expert, Giorgio Portera.
They remained there for six hours.
“Obviously it’s an emotional experience because I think my sister’s bones could be there, but I won’t think about it until we have the results,” Frederica Orlandi said.
Last week, following an anonymous tip to look for Emanuela’s remains under the statue of an angel pointing to a grave in the tiny Teutonic cemetery inside the Vatican walls, authorities pried open the tombs to two 19th German princesses but found them mysteriously empty of any human remains.
After further research, Vatican officials realized that structural work had been carried out on the cemetery and the adjacent college in the 1960s and 1970s, which must have resulted in the princesses bones being moved.
This led them to the discovery of containers of bones under a stone slab beneath the college, which were opened Saturday.
Emanuela’s brother, Pietro, who was not at the Vatican Saturday, told ABC News officials had dug up a “large number of diverse bones.” He added that it could take weeks to identify and sort them all.
Portera, the family’s forensic expert, said “thousands of bones have been found.”
“I can’t say if it’s 1,000 or 2,000, but there are really very many, and so we assume the presence of the remains of a few dozen people,” Portera said. “There are long bones, small bones, many are fragmented.”
Portera added that the bones were found mixed together and not sorted.
“They were all piled up inside a cavity,” he added.