The body of missing scientist Suzanne Eaton was found on July 8 on the Greek island of Crete. Police are calling her death a “criminal act.” Eaton, 59, was attending a conference when she vanished on July 2 after leaving her hotel room to go jogging.
Greek law enforcement arrested 27-year-old Yiannis Paraskakis for Eaton’s murder. Paraskakis lives with his wife and two children in Maleme, approximately 10 miles from the Chania, where Eaton was attending a conference.
Authorities have now confirmed Paraskaksis saw Eaton jogging, then hit her twice with his car to immobilize her. He then placed her in the trunk and took her to a remote location where he raped her and left her to die. ABC News reported Paraskakis’ car was spotted on a security camera near to where Eaton’s body was found and tire tracks matching his vehicle were located near Eaton’s body.
Paraskakis initially said he had not been anywhere near the area where Eaton’s body was found but eventually confessed when authorities showed him evidence to the contrary. Paraskakis said he was intent on raping and killing the first woman he saw.
“I would do it to anyone I met at that moment in front of me,” Paraskakis told stunned authorities.
“It was 100% murder,” State Coroner Antonis Papadommanolakis told CBS News. Papadomanolakis could not give out further details.
Star TV in Greece reported she was also stabbed and one of her ears was cut off. Athens police and homicide detectives were been sent to Crete to lead the investigation. The Greek news agency Patris is reporting that DNA evidence was found under her nails, showing that Eaton attempted to fight off her attacker.
“The only thing we can say is that the (death) resulted from a criminal act,” Papdommanolakis initally told the AP. According to Papadommanolakis, it’s believed Eaton was killed on the same day she went missing.
Here’s what you need to know about Suzanne Eaton and her tragic death in Greece.
1. Eaton Went Missing While Attending a Conference in Greece
Eaton was attending a scientific conference on insect hormones at the Orthodox Academy in Kolympari, by the port city of Chania on Crete. She was a molecular biologist with the Max Planck Institute in Dresden, Germany.
Eaton was last seen by colleagues playing a piano at the academy. Authorities believe Eaton left her room to go for her daily run somewhere between 3-5 p.m. Her passport, phone and wallet were left in the room. The only item missing was her running shoes.
Greek police, fire service rescuers from Athens, the conference’s seventy attendees, local residents and Eaton’s family searched the rural areas around Chania for several days. Ships and planes were also dispatched for the search.
2. Eaton’s Body Was Discovered in an Abandoned WW II Bunker
On July 8, Eaton’s remains were discovered in an abandoned World War II bunker in Xamoudohori, outside of Chania by two locals who were out exploring. The bunker is in a secluded spot on the northwest side of the island. Homicide detectives are trying to determine if she was killed in the bunker or elsewhere.
The bunker is described as a series of man-made caves and tunnels built by the Nazis to store ammunition during their occupation of Crete. Her body was found about 200 feet within the bunker. Local media outlet, The Greek Reporter, said her body was covered in burlap.
The bunker is located in rough terrain, about six miles from where Eaton was last spotted. The Nazi’s occupied the island until surrendering to the British in 1945.
KeepTalkingGreece.com said that due to the terrain, the bunker is difficult to access and that the entrance is always covered by tree branches. Not many people know about the long-abandoned bunker, leading authorities to investigate local residents.
“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,” the institute wrote in a 9 July statement. “We are deeply shocked and disturbed by this tragic event.”
3. Eaton Was a Black Belt in Taekwando
Eaton was a senior black belt in the Taekwondo, leading authorities to suspect more than one perpetrator.
Taekwondo is a Korean martial art that teaches dynamic fighting skills. It is known for high kicks, as well as jumping and spinning kicks.
“What makes Taekwondo different from these is that it is an activity for survival in extremely antagonistic situations,” the US Olympic Committee says on their website. It typically takes three to five years to to become a black belt.
In addition to her Taekwondo training, Eaton was considered a strong athlete and avid runner.
4. Eaton Was a Renowned Molecular Biologist
According to Nature, Eaton was a researcher who studied how particular molecules control embryonic development in fruit flies. She had been scheduled to hold the conference’s plenary lecture two days after her disappearance.
In addition to her work with the Max Planck Society, Eaton also served as a professor ofdevelopmental cell biology of invertebrates, at the university, TU-Dresden.
“We will remember forever the extraordinary scientist, so caring and devoted to her family and friends and so beloved by us all. We remain in disbelief of this shocking and awful tragedy,” the Max Planck Institute said in their statement.
Eaton was married to British scientist Tony Hyman, who worked as a director at the Max Planck Institute.
5. Eaton had Lived in Both California & New York
Eaton was born in Oakland, California but moved with her family to Armonk, New York in Westchester County at the age of 11 after her father accepted a job as an electrical engineer with IBM. After graduating Byram Hills High School in 1977, she attended Brown University.
In 1977 Eaton was a New York Regents State Scholar and in 1988 she was selection as the Graduate Woman of the Year by the Association of Academic Women.
In 1988, Eaton graduted from UCLA with a Ph.D. in Microbiology.
She and Hyman have two sons, Max and Luke.