A Vatican prosecutor said on Thursday he had uncovered new leads "worthy of further investigation" into the disappearance of a Vatican schoolgirl, who vanished 40 years ago.
Emanuela Orlandi, the daughter of a Vatican usher, failed to return home on June 22, 1983 following a music lesson in Rome. She was 15 at the time and lived inside the Vatican City. Her disappearance is one of Italy's most enduring mysteries.
The case drew fresh worldwide attention following the release late last year of the Netflix series "Vatican Girl"
Vatican chief prosecutor Alessandro Diddi announced in January that he was reopening a previous, inconclusive Vatican investigation after he inherited files from his retired predecessor.
On Thursday, he said his team had reviewed all the available evidence and spoken to people who had worked in "certain offices" four decades ago "confirming certain lines of enquiry worthy of further investigation."
He said in a statement that he had recently handed over his findings to Italian prosecutors so that they could decide what best to do. The Vatican said Diddi would continue to pursue the case and was aware of the family's long-standing suffering.
Pope Francis publicly criticized Orlandi's brother in April after he played an audio tape on national television from an alleged gangster who said girls were brought into the Vatican to be molested and that the pope at the time, John Paul II, knew about it.
The brother, Pietro Orlandi, said on Thursday he would stage a protest in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, when Francis gives his weekly blessing to the faithful.
"I told everyone to bring a photo of Emanuela," he told RAI radio. "I'm doing it because I really hope that (the pope) can say some words of hope."
Theories about Orlandi's disappearance have run the gamut from speculation it was linked to a plot to kill Pope John Paul, to suggestions that she was kidnapped by the Rome underworld, to accusations she was the victim of a priestly pedophile group.