American Scientist Found Dead in Greece Was Killed in a ‘Criminal Act,’ Officials Say

July 10, 2019 Updated: July 10, 2019

An American biologist who was found dead in Greece was suffocated, said police in an update on July 10.

Dr. Suzanne Eaton’s body was found in a tunnel network in Crete on Monday night, reported local news outlet Star.gr and the Daily Mail. Medical examiners revealed that she was stabbed, suffocated, and mutilated, the two reports said.

Police in Greece told CBS News that she was suffocated in a “criminal act.”

Coroner Antonis Papadomanolakis also told The Associated Press that final confirmation was still needed to confirm the identity of the body found Monday outside the port city of Chania, but he added it was highly likely it was Eaton.

“The only thing we can say is that the (death) resulted from a criminal act,” the coroner said. “We can’t give out any other details because there is an ongoing police investigation.”

The Mail reported that she was found in a network of tunnels used by the Nazis to store weapons after the Battle of Crete during World War II.

The person or people who placed Eaton’s body in the tunnels had to know the network of tunnels well, the Mail reported. She was found 200 feet inside the network by civilians, who told the police.

She had vanished on July 2, and her family believes that she went running because her running shoes were missing from her hotel room. She was in Greece for a conference related to her work.

The Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, where she worked, confirmed Eaton was found dead.

“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,” the institute told CBS. “Her loss is unbearable. Our thoughts and prayers are with her husband Tony, her sons Max and Luke, and with all her family.”

“Searching for Suzanne,” a Facebook page created by Eaton’s family, stated she was last known to be playing the piano before she allegedly started running.

Her passport, wallet, phone, cash, and shoes were in her hotel room. Her running shoes were not there, the page said, reported Reuters.

The U.S. State Department told ABC News that they were aware of an American citizen missing in Greece.

She was also a professor at the Biotechnology Center of the Technical University of Dresden in Germany.

“We were shocked to learn of the death of our dear colleague and friend, Prof. Suzanne Eaton,” Hans Muller-Steinhagen, rector of the TU Dresden, said on Tuesday. “We have lost an immensely renowned scientist and a truly outstanding human being.”

“We have come to know Suzanne as a lively and committed woman who made a decisive contribution to the development of our institute. Her sudden and untimely death is devastating for us all,” said Michael Schroeder, director of the TU Dresden Biotechnology Center. “We will remember Suzanne as a remarkable person. We are profoundly saddened and speechless.”

Family Speaks

Her niece, Callie Broaddus, told People magazine that her family didn’t “have any leads save for what we’ve already posted on Facebook,” adding that she traveled from the United States to help search for the woman.

“The Greek government has been incredibly supportive and sent in a whole armada to help find Suzanna,” said Broaddus. “We’ve been joined by so many volunteer groups and people flying drones, people coming out to search in their spare time and taking out their own boats—even planes as well. It seems like everyone in Crete knows.”

On Tuesday morning, the Facebook page “Searching for Suzanne” wrote: “We cannot comment on anything at this time, but I will post a message here when the time is appropriate.”

“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,” said a Facebook post on the page.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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