EXCLUSIVE: Greek police arrest 27-year-old farmer for the murder of American biologist whose body was found in a Nazi bunker on Crete after he confessed to ‘hitting her with his car then stabbing her’ in ‘sexually motivated’ killing
- The unidentified man has confessed to killing the biologist and is in custody
- He has not yet been named publicly but is from a town near to where Dr. Suzanne Eaton’s body was found
- Eaton was suffocated and stabbed after going out walking
- Police focused on neo-Nazi supporters on the Greek island
- Body was found in a cave used by Nazis to store ammunition during WW2
- Crete has groups of Nazi fanatics who trade in memorabilia and souvenirs
- Police questioned several people, including criminals and Nazi sympathizers
- Dr Eaton’s family has paid tribute to the 59-year-old ‘brilliant’ scientist
- One of her two sons Max described his mother as a ‘remarkable woman’
Suzanne Eaton (pictured) body was found deep at the bottom of a cave
A man has been arrested for the murder of American biologist Suzanne Eaton.
He is a 27-year-old father of two, DailyMail.com can reveal.
Police sources said he was arrested over the weekend and has reportedly confessed to killing Dr Eaton.
Detective believed that only a local person would have known the locality of the hidden cave, which was a former Nazi bunker.
The detained man is believed to come from Maleme, which is a only a few miles from the hidden 200-feet long cave’s location.
Sources said police believed the suspect, a local farmer, had a sexual motives.
She was attacked as she walked back to the convention center she had been staying at.
‘He hit her with his car to stop her from running and then stabbed her’ said the source.
Police found him by tracing his cell phone to the area and found his car tracks near the cave.
Dr Eaton’s body landed face down, around 200 feet inside the labyrinth of passages that pass through this cave (pictured)
Local villagers said they believed only somebody from the area would have known about the cave, which is off a dust track and then involves a trek through rugged woodland and is not visible easily to the naked eye or from the road
Police believe she was picked up from the road outside the fishing village of Afrata and suffocated, before being dumped through a shaft into the cave
Dr. Eaton’s body was found deep at the bottom of a cave which was used by Nazis to store ammunition during the second World War.
Crete has groups of Nazi fanatics and supporters who trade in memorabilia and souvenirs left behind by soldiers.
Police believe the location of the caves would only have been known to a few around there and particularly those with an interest in Nazi background.
It comes as Dr Eaton’s family pay heartfelt tributes to her.
Her mother, son Max, brother Rob and her sister have broken their silence to remember the 59-year-old scientist who was suffocated and stabbed after going out walking.
Her mother Glynda said: ‘She was a devoted wife and mother, and dearly loved by her family.
‘From the day Suzanne was brought to me right after she was born – stuffed into a red Christmas stocking, December 23 – not drowsy and sleepy but with her head up, her eyes alert, that interest in everything around her has never changed.
‘It has been a joy to share her love of books and music, to observe the combination of a certain flamboyancy with a calm, thoughtful, steady personality.
‘Her accomplishments are many and varied: avid gardener, accomplished pianist, black belt in Taekwondo, and of course her contributions to developmental biology.’
Dr Eaton left the Orthodox academy for a run and was discovered in a World War II cave near the settlement of Xamoudochori on Monday nigh
One of her two sons Max added that he would always ‘cherish’ her memory.
He added: ‘My mother was a remarkable woman.
‘She managed to live a life with few regrets, balancing out her personal life with her career.
‘I think the fact that I did not realize how well she had managed to do so was evident that other mothers around me had taken to caring for their children full time, yet mine was never outdone by any of them.
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.’
Dr Eaton’s younger sister, in a written tribute, said: ‘Sue is too great a person for her legacy to be defined in any way by how we lost her.
‘I can’t help but think that if Suzanne were here, she would know how to write this statement.
‘She was good with words and it didn’t matter if it was a personal expression of grief or joy or a scientific paper on endocannabinoids.
‘She took great pleasure in preparing exquisite meals and had an exotic fashion sense.
‘She loved perfume. She taught and practiced Taekwondo as a second degree black belt. She finished crossword puzzles way too quickly, played concertos, and read extensively.
‘She fitted Jane Austin’s strictest description of an “accomplished woman” while maintaining a natural humility and “insatiable curiosity”.
‘She worried that it was impossible to give both her science and her family her all. But anyone who read of her accomplishments in the field of molecular and developmental biology, or who witnessed her joy in tutoring, comforting, and inspiring her children, or sharing with, and loving her husband, would not have suspected.
‘With a deep sensitivity and compassion, she somehow made us all a priority.
‘We are immensely proud of her. It was her words that finally helped me deal with death, and she was in the process of teaching me how to live. So, I will continue on that journey.
‘I have made a conscious decision not to allow those facts to haunt my memory. My memory will be one of pure joy and gratitude, of love and admiration for an arm in arm sister, a closest confidant, a strong, kind, brilliant, selfless human being who made indelible contributions to science and added immeasurable beauty to our lives.
Her brother Rib said: ‘I have lost a sister. The world has lost more than it will ever know. Suzanne brought a new perspective to everything.
‘As a scientist she would pull together the threads of common knowledge from other disciplines to create profound new understandings in her own. As a chef she could make the most exotic dish seem simple and homey.
‘I will miss our animated conversations. I would always walk away with a head full of new ideas and enthusiasm. Most of all I will miss the kindest, wisest person I will probably ever know.’
An 85-year-old gardener and an elderly fisherman have both independently told detectives they saw Dr Eaton in the village of Afrata, which is three miles from the place she had been staying.
Officers now believe Dr Eaton disappeared a mile outside of Afrata as she made her way back to the Orthodox Academy of Crete where she was due to be a keynote conference speaker.
Police have questioned several people and detained possible suspects, believing they are close to finding Dr Eaton’s killer, DailyMail.com can reveal
She had fought for her life against an attacker armed with a knife, and suffered substantial knife wounds to her body, police sources told ABC.
The witnesses are adamant she came into the picturesque former fishing village, which does not have street surveillance cameras and is surrounded by cliffs and olive fields, before turning back towards the academy.
The retired gardener, who asked not to be identified, told DailyMail.com: ‘I saw her and I recognized her from the photographs of her. I also told police correctly the pink and purple colors of her clothing.
‘She was walking quite fast near a bridge and small church on the road out of the village. I was walking and she walked past me. I am sad about what has happened to her.’
It is believed she met her killer or killers on the road out of Afrata and may have become exhausted in the 90-degree heat and through having walked four miles.
She had walked north out of the academy and her body was found about six miles away south of the academy in a cave which had been a Nazi bunker during the Second World War.
It is thought she was picked up from the road outside Afrata and suffocated and stabbed, before being dumped through a shaft into the cave at Xamoudochori.
Her body had still not been released to her British husband and forensic tests are being conducted to see if she had been raped.
Coroner Antonis Papadomanolakis told local news outlets: ‘Her death was not immediate. It is not like in a shooting. There was duration involved.’
One of the last people to see her alive, Katerina Karkala-Zormpa of the Orthodox Academy of Crete, told DailyMail.com: ‘She was in a good mood and laughing as she came through the reception.
‘She played the piano and then went out. She always felt safe here and it was her fourth visit.
‘She felt so comfortable here, she left her room unlocked with the key inside and her belongings.’
‘It was a great shock when we heard that she was missing. She used to take walks whenever she was here and I could not believe she had got lost,’ Karkala-Zormpa said. ‘Her family came here and worked so hard to find her. They were always sending emails and on the telephone and helping the search.
Her body had still not been released to her British husband Tony Hyman (pictured) and forensic tests are being conducted to see if she had been raped
‘It was so sad when her body was discovered but in some way it was a relief because at least they knew what had happened. Of course they wanted to find her alive, but after a week they just needed to know.’
‘After she had died, we found out what a brilliant scientist she was and the incredible research she had done. She was very modest and did not make a big deal about her achievements,’ she added. ‘The whole matter had been very difficult and we hope the killer or killers are found as soon as possible.’
She said Dr Eaton was an experienced and fit hiker and would not normally have accepted a ride from strangers.
Police are also talking to cell phone companies on Crete that the murderer or murderers possibly had on them when they suffocated and stabbed her before dumping her body.
Authorities are trying to establish whether a phone signal was picked up by cell phone masts close to the remote olive fields where her body was found.
Crucially, they have pin-pointed a two-hour period on the night of Tuesday, July 2 when several phone signals were picked up in an area which they believe would have been known to them and few from outside the area.
DailyMail.com previously revealed that officers, in the days after the mother-of-two’s body was found, walked around the former Nazi bunker, talking to Greece’s three major phone companies, Cosmote, Vodafone and Wind, from their own cell phones.
They talked with the phone companies’ technicians and engineers while moving around the woodland and asking whether their locations were identifiable.
This is the Orthodox Academy of Crete where Dr Eaton was hosted while attending a conference and was due to be a keynote speaker
Katerina Karkala-Zormpa (pictured), of the Orthodox academy, was one of the last people to see her alive and told DailyMail.com she was ‘in a good mood and laughing’ before her final run
A source said: ‘They did this because they wanted to test close to the cave their own phones and co-ordinates and then with the help of GPS mapping and computer data find out which other mobile phones have been in that area in the last week.
‘It is a lonely spot and there is no reason really except for hikers or cave explorers, for anybody to go there.
‘If the killers had their phone, they think that is enough to find them.
‘There cannot be very many people who go there and if that is the evening her body was left there, they will be looking for the owners of the cell phones picked up in the area during that time.’
Those visiting the area found strong 4G signal strength on their cell phones, boosted by two towering phone masts nearby.
It was also revealed that the killer dumped the body of Dr Eaton, which was still dressed in her running gear, down a shaft, an approximate 40-foot drop.
They did so by removing a wooden pallet from the shaft and dropping the body down where it landed face down, around 200ft inside the labyrinth of passages that pass through the cave.
Police and forensic officers have carried out a thorough examination of the cave, close to Xamoudochori and their discarded plastic gloves and other debris littered the opening to the cave, which is partially blocked by a fallen tree and accessible only on all fours.
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