Trigger warning: mentions of sexual assault, human trafficking, death, kidnapping, and human remains.
First I would like to preface that I am not an expert on this subject, I know there are people who have dedicated countless hours and written books on the case, but I am giving you just a peak at the details of this case, so forgive me if your favorite piece of evidence is not discussed. I heard about the case while listening to a podcast and I was instantly fascinated and horrified by many theories and rabbit holes one could dive into while discussing the case. Due to the nature of this case’s many separate and differing leads, I chose to provide a timeline in a bullet-point-fashion to help the reader understand pieces of evidence independently.
- Emanuela Orlandi was a bright high schooler who lived in the Vatican with her family.
- Disappeared June 22nd, 1983, while coming home from music lessons. Last seen In front of the Italian Senate, she was stopped by a young man in a green BMW.
- Two people say they saw someone called Barbarella matching her description selling makeup not far away. Identified personal information not available to the public. Callers said she wanted time away from home.
- On July 3rd, Pope John Paul the 2nd called on the Sunday Mass procession to pray for Emanuela’s kidnappers to bring her home safely. At the time, the family was unaware of the possibility that Emanuela might have been kidnapped, so this came as a shock.
- Two days later, a man with an American accent began to call the Orlandi family. The man said if the family wanted Emanuela back they would have to release Mehmet Ali Agca, a Turkish man incarcerated for a 1981 assasination attempt against Pope John Paul the 2nd, in exchange. Of course, the Vatican police did not pursue this exchange.
- The Grey Wolves, a turkish far right group that insists they coordinated the assassination attempt, later claimed responsibility of the kidnapping of Emanuela and another girl: Merilla Georgi. Merilla Georgi disappeared in Rome, 40 days before Emanuela, at age 16 while walking to meet up with an “old school friend.” Her little about her is published and her case remains unsolved.
- Stop investigations in 1997
- 2005: a tip came in saying that the clues to Emeula’s case will be inside the tomb of Enrico De Pedis, a high ranked gangster buried alongside senior members of the Vatican in the Saint Apollinare Church. When investigators searched it, nothing of interest was found.
- 2013: When Pope Francis had his first Sunday mass at the Vatican, he said hi to everyone as they left. He said to the Orlandi family “Emanuela is in heaven,” the brother replied that he still believes she is still alive until proven otherwise. But the Pope just repeated, “She’s in heaven.” Does he have proof she’s dead that he’s not telling or is this a religious intuition?
- Father Gabriel Amorth, the Vatican’s chief Exorcist appointed by John Paul 2nd in 1986, believed she was kidnapped and used for sex parties involving members of the vatican police and a foriegn embassy, and then was later murdered..
- 2018: the Orlandi family was sent an anonymous tip with a picture of an angel statue from a cemetery in the vatican and under the picture it said “look to where the angel is pointing”. They got permission to search the grave and inside was NOTHING but when they dug deeper they found a tiny room (THAT THE CHURCH DIDN’T EVEN KNOW ABOUT) filled with HUNDREDS OF HUMAN REMAINS, some of them children. When they did DNA tests this summer, none of them were Emanuela’s though. The church is still investigating why the human remains were moved.
Beneath all the theories, scandal, excitement, and disappointment is a family who lost a talented and bright young woman. After 36 years of mystery and trauma, Emanuela’s loved ones deserve to have peace. I hope one day to write about how this woman got her long deserved justice.
But of course, I cannot fully discuss the Disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi without discussing the theories and speculation that surrounds it, so stay tuned for part 2 in the coming weeks.