Vatican mystery of missing girl is probed

Posted: May 15, 2012

ROME - Forensic police swarmed the crypt of a Roman basilica Monday to exhume the body of a reputed mobster as part of an investigation into one of the Vatican's most enduring mysteries: the 1983 disappearance of the teenage daughter of one of its employees.

Medical experts took samples from the remains of Enrico De Pedis and also took boxes of old bones from the nearby ossuary, according to a De Pedis family lawyer, as part of the investigation into whether Emanuela Orlandi may have been buried alongside him.

Orlandi was 15 when she disappeared in 1983 after leaving her family's Vatican apartment to go to a Rome music lesson. Her father was a lay employee of the Holy See.

De Pedis, a member of Rome's Magliana mob, was killed in 1990. A former girlfriend reportedly has told prosecutors that De Pedis kidnapped Orlandi, and an anonymous caller in 2005 told a call-in TV show that the answer to Orlandi's disappearance lay in his tomb.

Amid a new push to resolve the case, the Vatican said last month it had no objections to opening the tomb. On Monday, a Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the inspection of the De Pedis tomb was "certainly a positive fact" aimed at carrying out "all possible steps so the investigation could be completed." He said that "the prosecutors' office can continue to count on the full collaboration of the church authorities."

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