American scientist Suzanne Eaton found dead in Crete was asphyxiated, police say

Suzanne Eaton was an American scientist
Suzanne Eaton was an American scientist Copyright Family handout via AP
By Alice Tidey
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Suzanne Eaton, 59, was in Crete for a conference. She disappeared on July 2 and her body was recovered on Monday inside a cave.


Police on the Greek island of Crete have launched a murder inquiry after the body of an American scientist was discovered in a cave used as a Nazi bunker during World War II.

Suzanne Eaton, who worked for the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, based in Dresden, Germany, was on the Mediterranean island to attend a conference but disappeared on July 2.

The coroner's office confirmed on Wednesday that a body recovered two days earlier in a cave was hers, according to a statement from her employer.

"There is an ongoing homicide investigation being led by the police of Crete, which has taken comprehensive measures to ensure that the responsible party(ies) will be brought to justice," the institute also said.

€50,000 reward

Her family initially thought Eaton, 59, may have disappeared while jogging as all of her belongings were still in her hotel room, except for her running shoes.

"Due to the rough terrain and extreme heat, we believe the most likely is that Suzanne may have either become overheated and looked for shade or that she may have fallen," they wrote in an especially set-up Facebook page.

They called on people to "check ravines, trail edges, and under brush and shady areas" and later offered a €50,000 reward for any information on her whereabouts.

'Sincere condolences'

A large search effort was launched including helicopters, drones and tracker dogs but her body was ultimately found by two locals visiting a cave complex — used as a bunker by Nazi troops during World War II — some 10 kilometres away from where she had last been seen and where the search operation was concentrated.

The authorities told Greek media that the autopsy revealed that Eaton was asphyxiated and that her body, which had been found some 60 metres inside the cave, had been covered by a large wooden pallet in an attempt to hide it.

The Max Planck Institute and its staff offered their "most sincere condolences to Suzanne's family" on Wednesday.

"We will remember forever extraordinary scientist so caring and so devoted to her family and friends ad so beloved by us all," the said.

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