Suzanne Eaton case: Man arrested in murder, rape of American molecular biologist in Greece

A Greek national was arrested in the murder and rape of American scientist Suzanne Eaton, who had disappeared while visiting the island of Crete earlier this month and was later found dead in an abandoned WWII bunker, ABC News reports.

The suspect — an unnamed 27-year-old man who lives with his wife and two kids about 10 miles from the port city of Chania, where Eaton had been staying — allegedly confessed to committing the gruesome crime on Monday after he was brought in for questioning by Greek authorities, claiming he was "motivated by sexual satisfaction." 

The suspect told police he randomly spotted Eaton near the Evelpidon monument on July 2 while "trying to find someone to have sex with" and hit her with his car before putting her unconscious body in his trunk, according to USA Today

The man then allegedly drove Eaton to a ventilation drain in an abandoned, Nazi-built bunker, where he raped her and left her lifeless body. He then drove to a nearby graveyard to clean the back of his vehicle, authorities say.

A police source told ABC News that DNA evidence, as well as security footage captured in the area where Eaton's body was found, helped lead to the man's eventual arrest. 

"He admitted his guilt and today he will be brought to justice," Maj. Gen. Constantinos Lagoudakis, director of the Police General Directorate of Crete, said in a Tuesday statement.

Eaton, a 59-year-old molecular biologist who led a research group at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany, had traveled to Greece to attend a scientific conference at the Orthodox Academy of Crete, when she disappeared on July 2.

Her colleagues last saw her leaving for a run that afternoon and later noticed she failed to attend a 6 p.m. talk she had planned to attend. 

On July 4, a conference organizer reported Eaton missing to local authorities after she neglected to show up to her own presentation, leading to a massive police search of the surrounding area. Her body was found on July 8 in the bunker, located about seven miles from her accommodations on the popular tourist island. 

An autopsy ruled Eaton's cause of death a murder by asphyxiation and revealed signs of "a violent criminal act and possibly sexual abuse," Maj. Gen. Lagoudakis said Tuesday.

The victim, a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, had also suffered multiple defensive wounds before her death, a police source told ABC News.

Eaton is survived by her husband, Anthony Arie Hyman, a British scientist and professor at the Max Planck Institute, and their two sons. 

Following Eaton's death, Martin Stratmann, President of the Max Planck Society, remembered her as "an outstanding scientist and a wonderful human being."

"She has been a key person, an essential pillar of the Institute right from its very beginning," he said. "She played a big part in making the MPI-CBG one of the world's leading Institutes and in making Dresden a beacon of science known throughout the world. The Max Planck Society will forever remember Suzanne for all she contributed to our community and far beyond."

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