ROME — Forensic police swarmed the crypt of a Roman basilica on 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 a Vatican employee.
Medical experts took samples from the remains of Enrico De Pedis but also found boxes of old bones nearby, according to a De Pedis family lawyer, reviving speculation that Emanuela Orlandi may have been buried alongside him.
Orlandi was 15 when she disappeared in 1983 after leaving her family's Vatican City apartment to go to a music lesson in Rome. Her father was a lay employee of the Holy See.
De Pedis, a member of Rome's Magliana mob, was killed in 1990. His one-time girlfriend has reportedly told prosecutors that De Pedis kidnapped Orlandi, and an anonymous caller in 2005 told a call-in television show that the answer to Orlandi's disappearance lay in his tomb.
Amid a new push to solve the case, the Vatican said last month it had no objections to opening the tomb.
Lorenzo Radogna, a De Pedis family attorney, told reporters outside that investigators had found some 200 "containers" with bones near De Pedis' tomb, and that they would be tested in the coming days and weeks.
Orlandi's brother, Pietro, who was at the scene, said samples from the body had been taken for further tests and the tomb re-closed. He said the corpse was in relatively good condition, and there was only one body — that of a male — inside.
There had initially been speculation that Emanuela Orlandi's kidnapping was linked in some way to an assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II, which had occurred two years earlier, and the jailing of the gunman, Ali Agca.
Doubts have also been cast on whether the Vatican itself had cooperated fully with the investigation.