Man, 27, Confesses to the Murder of American Scientist Suzanne Eaton in Greece
A local man has confessed to the murder of Suzanne Eaton a week after the missing U.S. scientist’s body was found by authorities in Crete, Greece.
Local police announced on Monday the suspect is currently being detained and that they expect to have more information in the coming day, according to the outlet.
The shocking news comes nearly one week after a spokesperson for the police in Crete said authorities had discovered Eaton’s body approximately 200 feet inside of a cave — a site that was formerly used as a World War II bunker.
Located underneath an air shaft that had been covered with a large wooden pallet, police said they believe Eaton’s body, which was discovered face-down, was dumped inside of the cave after she had been suffocated to death.
The scientist had also suffered minor stab wounds to her body, though officials said they did not appear to have caused her death.
“The only thing we can say is that the [death] resulted from a criminal act,” Greek state coroner Antonis Papadomanolakis told the Associated Press last week.
Eaton, who worked at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Germany, disappeared while out for a run on the afternoon of July 2, her family said on Search for Suzanne, a Facebook page they set up to find her.
She was attending a conference at the Orthodox Academy of Crete and was somewhat familiar with the area as she had attended conferences there previously.
The 59-year-old scientist was known to run for 30 minutes every day, and the family said that she had done so the previous day at the same time, though details of where she was going remain unknown. Her cell phone and other belongings were left in her hotel room.
Last Monday, before authorities said they believed she met with foul play, her family wrote on Facebook, “Due to the rough terrain and extreme heat, we believe the most likely possibility is that Suzanne may have either become overheated and looked for shade or that she may have fallen.”
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Eaton’s employer confirmed her death last Tuesday, revealing that her body was found the night before.
“It is with enormous sadness and regret that we announce the tragic demise of our dearest friend and colleague, Suzanne Eaton,” the institute’s statement said, adding that “authorities have not yet completed their investigation regarding the events that may have transpired on Tuesday afternoon, 2nd July.”
“We are deeply shocked and disturbed by this tragic event,” they added. “Suzanne was an outstanding and inspiring scientist, a loving spouse and mother, an athlete as well as a truly wonderful person beloved to us all. Her loss is unbearable.”
A fundraiser on the Facebook page raised more than $40,000 to aid in the search for Eaton. Local volunteers and members of the conference scoured nearby areas, and people with drones uploaded aerial footage to help the search.
Before her body was found, a notice was posted in both Greek and English offering a €50,000 or USD $56,032 reward.
Eaton’s entire family went to Crete to look for her, including her sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew in addition to her husband, British scientist Tony Hyman, and their two sons, Max and Luke.
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On Facebook last week, her family thanked everyone who helped search for Eaton.
“I will be forever grateful for the support we’ve received from this global community of caring people over the last week,” her niece, Callie Broaddus, wrote. “I understand that many of you want answers, and I am thankful that you are invested in this case, but I humbly ask that you avoid speculation on this page. We cannot comment on anything at this time, but I will post a message here when the time is appropriate.”
Her son Luke also recently issued a statement and remembered his mother for the happy times their family shared together.
“My mother was a remarkable woman,” he said. “Supportive and encouraging, she nurtured and supported anything that the distractible mind of my childhood would come up with, and this curiosity has stuck with me to this day. As I grew, her brilliance as a scientist began to dawn on me.”
“Always armed with a question, she would show interest in any topic broached,” he continued. “Many a time I discussed topics with her that I had studied at university, and within a week, she would be as well versed in that topic as any of my professors.”
“Yet she was far more than a scientist. Her love for music shone brightly, her eyes lit up every time she talked about a piece she was playing, and she would laugh with me in admiration of the sheer complexity of a Piano arrangement,” Luke added. “I have many fond memories of her and my father playing duets together, filling our home with a beautiful, joyful sound that was unique to them, and I shall forever cherish the memory of lying on the floor, watching and listening to the thing that brought them together.”
Eaton was born in Oakland, California. She earned her undergraduate degree in biology at Brown, and a Ph.D in microbiology from the University of California, Los Angeles, her biography on the CGB site says.