Explosive twist in mystery of 15-year-old schoolgirl who disappeared after music lesson as new evidence emerges nearly 40 years later

BOMBSHELL New evidence in the disappearance of a decades-old schoolgirl claims a mob boss ordered her kidnapping to blackmail the Vatican.

The mystery of Emanuela Orlandi, 15, the daughter of a Vatican employee, has gripped Italy since she disappeared on her way home from a flute lesson in 1983.


Emanuela Orlandi, 15, disappeared after a flute lesson in June 1983Credit: Rex Features

The case embarrassed the Holy See for nearly 40 years by claiming officials knew what happened to Emanuela and covered it up.

Various theories have linked his disappearance to international criminal gangs, a Vatican banking scandal, a plot to kill Pope John Paul II and the intelligence services.

At one point it was suggested she was being held by Turkish terrorists who were seeking the release of Mehmet Ali Agca, the gunman who shot the pontiff two years earlier.

Investigators later looked into the possibility that she may have been abducted by mafia gangs in hopes of recovering money lost in the collapse of Banco Ambrosiano.

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Vatican-linked bank chairman Roberto Calvi was found hanging from scaffolding under London’s Blackfriars Bridge in 1982 in what was later ruled a mafia murder.

Now, new evidence points directly to Enrico “Renatino” De Pedis, leader of Rome’s criminal gang, the Magliana Band.

Salvatore Sarnataro said his mafia son Marco confessed to being part of an operation to track and kidnap Emanuela on De Pedis’s orders.

Salvatore said his son lived in “terror” and spilled the beans while they were both in prison for drug dealing.

He said Marco told him he had been rewarded for “courtesy” with a Suzuki motorcycle.

“I really don’t know why Marco decided to tell me about his role in Orlandi’s kidnapping,” Salvatore told police.

“I understood straight away that he was going through a period of great fear.”

His testimony was given in 2008 – a year after Marco’s death – but was first reported publicly this week by La Repubblica.

He also revealed testimony from two of Emanuela’s friends identifying Marco Sarnataro from a police photograph as the man who followed her in the days before her abduction.

The first time, a man sitting in the passenger seat of a car reached out the window and touched Emanuela’s arm, saying to his partner, “It’s her.”

The second, the same man had followed the group through Rome until Emanuela had passed through the doors of the Vatican.

Her father worked for the Catholic Church as a clerk and lived with his family in an apartment in the Vatican.

She was last seen at a bus stop talking to a red-haired woman.

On her way to her music class, she was stopped by a man in a green BMW who tried to sell her Avon cosmetics.

Emanuela was so disturbed by this encounter that she called one of her sisters and she was supposed to meet another sister after her lesson but never showed up.

As the 39th anniversary of her disappearance approaches in June, Emanuela’s brother, Pietro Orlandi, said he had received new evidence which convinced him that people in the Vatican knew what had happened to him.


The Magliana Band has already been involved in the long-running mystery.

Maurizio Abbatino, another former mobster who collaborated with police, previously said De Pedis ordered the kidnapping to blackmail the Vatican.

He said De Pedis was looking to recover money lost to Banco Ambrosiano.

The Vatican’s banking arm was the largest shareholder, and its collapse in 1982 was the biggest Italian political scandal of the time.

Abbatino also said Emanuela’s kidnapping was linked to the death of Calvi – known as “God’s banker” for his close ties to the Vatican.

In 2005, an anonymous caller on a TV detective show suggested investigators search for Emanuela’s remains in De Pedis’s grave.

Last December, a former Rome chief prosecutor scandalously accused the Vatican of covering up its role in the raid.

Giancarlo Capaldo said in a TV documentary that two senior Vatican officials approached him in 2012 to offer to help find Emanuela’s body.

In return, they wanted the prosecutor’s help to remove the mafia don’s body from the crypt of a Roman basilica when he was buried after being shot in 1990.

Pope Benedict agreed to open the tomb but the schoolgirl was not there.

Capaldo was then quickly replaced as chief prosecutor and the case was dropped, it is claimed.

Emanuela’s brother Pietro, a tireless campaigner for the truth on his behalf, said Capaldo’s revelations were an important step forward.

The Vatican’s willingness to return the body was an implied admission of guilt, he added.

He told The Times: “Their willingness to hand over the body means they know everything.

“They wanted prosecutors to find a way to keep the Vatican out, to concoct a story that eliminates any liability on the part of the Vatican.”

He added that Capaldo’s successor as chief prosecutor – who suspended the investigation – was rewarded by Pope Francis with an appointment to head the Vatican tribunal when he retired in 2019.

Emanuela’s exact fate remains unknown.

In 2018, bone fragments were found in the foundations of a Vatican embassy, ​​but tests showed they were not his.

A year later, the family received an anonymous and enigmatic letter claiming that the schoolgirl had been buried in the Teutonic cemetery in the Vatican.

He claimed she was in a grave under an angel statue with her hands down, adding, “Look where the angel is pointing.”

Two sets of remains were found by police, but they were not linked to the schoolgirl.

Emanuela was the daughter of a Vatican employee


Emanuela was the daughter of a Vatican employee1 credit
In 2019, a whistleblower claimed she was buried under an angel statue in the Vatican's Teutonic Cemetery.


In 2019, a whistleblower claimed she was buried under an angel statue in the Vatican’s Teutonic Cemetery.Credit: AFP or licensors
Mafia boss Enrico De Pedis allegedly ordered the kidnapping


Mafia boss Enrico De Pedis allegedly ordered the kidnapping
'God's banker' Roberto Calvi was found hanged in London in 1982 as his Vatican-linked bank collapsed in scandal


‘God’s banker’ Roberto Calvi was found hanged in London in 1982 as his Vatican-linked bank collapsed in scandalCredit: AP:Associated Press
Mystery has gripped Italy for almost 40 years


Mystery has gripped Italy for almost 40 yearsCredit: AP:Associated Press

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