fate of the Imperial Daughters is one of the most puzzling features
of this story. We know Alexei Nicolaievich is missing.. but deciding
which of the girls is missing is much more difficult.
The girls were behind their
mother before the murders began. To the shooters they were all quite
beautiful young women. The murderers were told, and believed, that
the girls' surname alone was enough to sentence them to death.
These innocent girls brought
up on love for their parents, brother, and country had lost the
only world they had ever known. They were forced to put up with
with the most degrading of circumstances. Their only friends disappeared
slowly. Contact with the outside world became more and more scarce.
The imprisonment was too much for their sipirits.. the sparkle in
their eyes was lost, their pride was shattered, their souls finally
they were born in quick succession during a period of only six years,
it is sometimes hard to tell the girls apart. Having flipped through
countless photos of the family it takes us only a moment to determine
who's who, and have even caught mistaken identities in published
books. This comes from years of experience. Even when the
children had their heads shaved in 1917 there are still distinct
features that easily allows us to tell them apart; like Olga's heart-shaped
face and pug nose, the bridge between Tatiana's eyes and her high
cheekbones, Maria's large eyes and long face, and Anastasia's small
eyes and thin nose.
With Olga positively identified,
having three girls to choose from when the youngest and oldest are
only four years apart in age is extremely difficult. So which is
the missing Grand Duchess? Statistically, we have two skeletons
left and three female identities to choose from.
Therefore we have the following
Alexander Avdonin, the one
who first discovered the location of the remains, had invited Dr.
Anthony Falsetti (the late Dr. William Maples' replacement), and
a man by the name of Peter Sarandinaki to Ekaterinburg in February
1998. Wanting to find the missing two they organised a search team
to focus on the Koptyaki.
Dr. Diane France from Colorado
State University, a renowned expert in forensics, went along on
this trip. She was the representative of a group called Necrosearch
(a group which will travel worldwide to help in locating and identifying
remains in difficult and controversial cases, in other words they
are PERFECT for this case).
At a meeting
with Alexander Avdonin and the Obretenye Foundation a Protocol of
Intention was written, we could not sign the fact that we were searching
for Marie, as Maples, Falsetti and France believed that Anastasia
was missing. To sign such a document would have been wrong at the
time. Now you must understand... the Burial of the Royal family
was going to take place the following July, and the Russians could
not afford another controversy.
~Capt. Peter Sarandinaki~
Falsetti and France believed
a different conclusion rather than the one presented in that Protocol
of Intention, and they could not sign a paper that said they
were searching for Maria.
Peter Sarandinaki has returned
to Russia since then and now runs SEARCH, one of the regular teams
returning to the Kopyaki to search the Pig's Meadow every summer.
They have searched the Four Brothers mine area using a few different
methods including electromagnetic search. This summer will wrap
up the team's effort in the birch forest, and Mr. Sarandinaki will
be a part of a combined effort to publish a book on the team's findings.
of author Robert K. Massie, Prince Andre Romanov, Nadja on Lowenstein
Bacardi, Paul Rodzianko III, my wife Masha Tolstoy-Sarandinaki,
author Marilyn Swezey, the late Bishop Basil Rodzianko, and Marie
Avdonin is the President of the Obretenye Foundation and has worked
hand in hand with members of SEARCH for the past 8 years.
~Capt. Peter Sarandinaki~