In Italy, for four decades they have been trying to find traces of the disappeared Emanuela Orlandi.
A photo: GLOBAL LOOK PRESS
This story has been one of the most mysterious cases of people disappearing without a trace for four decades now. It has everything: the Italian mafia, terrorists, secrets of the Vatican, violence and mysterious anonymous people. It all started when 15-year-old Emanuela Orlandi disappeared one hot Italian day.
GIRL FROM A GOOD FAMILY
She was the fourth of five children of Ercoli and Maria Orlandi. The girl’s father was a hereditary minister of the Holy See. According to some sources, he was an employee of the Vatican Bank, according to others – an employee of the prefecture of the papal court, in particular, his duties included organizing audiences for the Pope. In any case, his status allowed the Orlandi family to live in the territory of the Vatican, where from time immemorial only members of the clergy and guards could live.
On that ill-fated day, June 22, 1983, the girl was going to a music school, but she was late. The road was long – it was necessary to go by bus, and then walk to Piazza Sant’Apollinare – and Emanuela asked her older brother Pietro to accompany her. But the young man refused, citing his deeds. Oh, how he later regretted it.
A MYSTERIOUS STRANGER
Emanuela was late for the flute lesson. As the policeman who saw Orlandi later said, the girl was talking on the street with an unfamiliar elegantly dressed man in a green BMW. After a lesson at the academy, the Italian called her older sister Federica and said that a stranger offered her a job in a cosmetics company – either handing out leaflets, or selling cosmetics at an exhibition. But Emanuela decided to consult with her family.
In the evening, the girl was supposed to meet another sister, Maria Christina, but they never saw each other. Versions of what happened next vary. According to one of them, after the lesson, Emanuela, along with two friends, went to the bus stop: the girls left, and Orlandi stayed to wait for her bus. According to another version, Emanuela told her friend that she was going to meet with a potential employer in the evening. Already driving away from the stop, a friend saw Emanuela talking to a curly-haired girl, whose identity was never established.
Emanuela went missing on June 22, 1983.
A photo: EAST NEWS
Already on the evening of June 22, Emanuela’s parents sounded the alarm. They called their daughter’s friends and teachers, and then went to the police. The news of the disappearance of a girl from the Vatican quickly spread throughout Rome, and already on June 24, newspapers came out with articles about Emanuel, where the family’s phone number was indicated. Then the mysterious calls began.
The first was heard on June 25. A young man who introduced himself as Pierluigi said that he had seen a similar girl and accurately described Emanuela’s hairdo and flute case. The girl sold cosmetics, and called herself Barbara. When a young man and his girlfriend asked her to play the flute, she refused, saying that she would have to wear glasses for astigmatism, which she dislikes so much. It looked like the truth.
The next day, a second call rang. The owner of a bar located near the Academy said that he spoke with a girl who looked like Emanuela. She introduced herself as Barbara from Venice, said that she made money selling cosmetics, ran away from home, but would return for her sister’s wedding. The Orlandi family was confused: only relatives knew about the upcoming celebration, but on the other hand, Mario was mistaken when he said that Emanuela was tall, although not tall, in fact, was about sixty meters.
VERSION #1: “GRAY WOLVES”
On July 3, Pope John Paul II, after a public prayer, turned to the possible kidnappers of the girl with a request to return her home. On July 5, another call rang out. The caller was later nicknamed The American because of his distinctive accent. He declared that Emanuela was alive. She was promised to be returned after the release of the Turkish terrorist, a member of the Gray Wolves group Mehmet Ali Agzhu. In 1981, he made an attempt on the pontiff, wounding him in the stomach. The Vatican refused the deal. The American made 16 calls, but at the end of October the connection was cut off. Later, there were other anonymous people who demanded the release of Agzha in exchange for Orlandi. One of them even provided evidence that they had Emanuela: a copy of her pass to music school and a handwritten note. But the police did not find the evidence conclusive.
Over time, the version about the connection between Agzhu and Orlandi was the least believed.
Pope John Paul II forgave the failed assassin Mehmet Ali Agzhu and met with him a couple of years after the assassination attempt.
A photo: EAST NEWS
VERSION #2: MAFIA
The investigation has reached a dead end, but Italy never forgot about the missing Vatican Girl. In 2005, in the program “Who saw them?” received an anonymous call. To solve the Orlandi case, the caller advised to look into one of the graves in the Roman Basilica of Sant’Apollinare and remember the service that “Renatino had done Poletti.”
What a surprise it was when the police discovered in the crypt of the temple of the 7th century, where the papal cardinals were always buried, the body of the mafia Enrico de Pedis, known as Renatino. Until he was shot dead in 1990, he was a powerful man in Rome, controlled the capital’s drug business, and had connections with the Vatican, in particular with the vicar general Hugo Poletti. It was rumored that Renatino deserved a place of honor in the basilica for large donations to the Holy See.
Enrico de Pedis until the assassination in 1990 was an influential person in Rome, controlled the metropolitan drug business, and had connections with the Vatican.
A photo: en.wikipedia.org
In 2006, Renatino’s former lover Sabrina Minardi said in an interview that the mafiosi somehow confessed to her: it was his gang that kidnapped Emanuela. Two years later, Minardi clarified that Renatino personally took the girl out of town and killed her, and hid the body in a concrete mixer. Then the woman remembered that she had seen Emanuela herself. The girl was kept in the basement of a house on the outskirts of Rome. The police found that the building really belongs to the mafia, and during a search in the basement they found a fragment of the chain. But they could not prove the connection of Renatino with the disappearance of Orlandi.
In 2011, the same version was confirmed by ex-prosecutor Maurizio Abbatino. He explained that in the early 1980s, the Vatican Bank borrowed a large amount from the mafia through an affiliated bank. The bank burst and the gang demanded their money back. But the Vatican was in no hurry, and the mafia began to blackmail, arranging attacks on people close to the Holy See. Perhaps one of them was the kidnapping of Orlandi. But even here the investigation did not have any weighty evidence.
In addition to the main versions, there have been suggestions that Emanuela is alive and living abroad; converted to Islam; was kidnapped to participate in sex parties and prostitution, and then she was allegedly killed by the pontiff’s guards. It was also assumed that the Vatican still found the girl and paid for her life in London. In a Netflix documentary, a childhood friend of Emanuela revealed that Orlandi was molested by someone close to Pope John Paul.
“I WON’T LEAVE AND I WON’T CALM”
Emanuela’s family has had many questions to the Holy See over the years. Initially, the Vatican was not eager to assist in the search for the girl. Relatives placed great hopes on Pope Francis, who was perceived as a progressive and liberal pontiff.
– They decided for themselves that the case was closed. Under Pope Francis, the walls got even taller. I met him a few days after his election, and he told me: “Emanuela is in heaven,” Emanuela’s brother Pietro recalls the 2013 meeting. He decided that the pontiff knew something more and tried to get another meeting, but the holy father did not want to see him anymore.
Not so long ago, the Vatican reopened the investigation into the case of Emanuela after numerous appeals from Pietro. In addition to the Orlandi case, the Vatican will look into the disappearance of 15-year-old Mirella Gregory, who went missing a few weeks before Emanuela, having told her mother that she was going on a date. For a long time, it was believed that there could be a connection between the two disappearances.
– I was often told: “Give it up, enjoy life,” says Pietro. – But until I understand what happened to her, I will not rest.