Thousands of bones and bone fragments were discovered and collected from the depths of the Vatican Saturday, the latest effort to solve the mystery of a 15-year-old girl who vanished 36 years ago.

Emanuela Orlandi, the 15-year-old daughter of an employee at the Vatican, has been missing since June 22, 1983, when she was last seen after a music class in Rome.

The unsolved mystery took a new twist on Saturday when papal authorities announced that they had discovered containers of bones under a stone slab beneath the college, which were opened Saturday.

The opening of two tombs at the Teutonic Cemetery in relation to the investigations into the case of Emanuela Orlandi. (Vatican Media)

Emanuela’s sister, Federica Orlandi, a forensic expert, Giorgio Portera and their lawyer, Laura Sgro were at the Vatican at 9 a.m. local time and remained there for six hours.

Giorgio Portera said: “I can’t say if it’s 1,000 or 2,000, but there are really very many, and so we assume the presence of the remains of a few dozen people.”

He also added that the bones were “all piled up inside a cavity.”

Last week, the graves of two 19th century German princesses were opened after the family received an anonymous tip that Emanuela’s remains may have been buried there but found them empty of any human remains.

The last recorded structural work at the cemetery and the adjacent college had been carried out in the 1960s and 1970s, which must have resulted in the princesses bones being moved.

This July 10, 2019, file photo, show a view of the Teutonic Cemetery inside the Vatican. (AP)

Over the years, theories, anonymous tips, and fake leads about Emanuela’s disappearance have circulated in Italy but no concrete clues have been found to establish what happened to her. Emanuela’s case has been linked to everything from Vatican bank scandals, the plot to kill St. John Paul II and organized crime clan members in Rome.

A team including Vatican and Portera staff, including its own forensic expert, Giovanni Arcudi, gave the bones a first examination that followed “international protocols,” the Vatican spokesman, Alessandro Gisotti, said in a statement released Saturday.

Forensic work will continue on July 27.

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