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Man confesses to murdering US scientist Suzanne Eaton in Crete

Posted at 2:39 PM, Jul 15, 2019

A 27-year-old man has confessed to killing US scientist Suzanne Eaton on the Greek island of Crete, a police spokesperson told CNN Monday.

The local man had been detained by police for questioning, after the 59-year-old molecular biologist went missing July 2 while attending a conference.

More details are expected to be announced Tuesday, Crete police said.

Eaton was attending a conference at the Orthodox Academy when she disappeared, apparently during a run.

Last Monday, her body was discovered by two locals deep inside a cave, according to Crete's Chief of Police Konstantinos Lagoudakis.

She was found around 60 meters (nearly 200 feet) inside the cave, beneath an air shaft that had been covered by a large wooden pallet. The underground caverns had been turned into a bunker by Nazi soldiers during the Second World War.

The police said that Eaton had been asphyxiated. Minor stab wounds were also found on her body, but police said they were not believed to be the cause of her death. The police believe the body was dumped inside the cave, because it was found face down.

Lagoudakis told CNN on Thursday that he had never seen a case like this in his four years as police chief.

'A truly wonderful person'

Tributes from Eaton's relatives -- including her mother, son and siblings -- were released by Eaton's employer, the Max Planck Institute at Dresden University in Germany.

Eaton was the wife of British scientist Tony Hyman and mother of two sons, according to the institute.

Eaton's sister described her as an "accomplished woman" of "insatiable curiosity," and praised her achievements.

"She took great pleasure in preparing exquisite meals and had an exotic fashion sense. She loved perfume. She taught and practiced Tae Kwon Do as a second-degree black belt. She finished crossword puzzles way too quickly, played concertos, and read extensively. She fit Jane Austin's strictest description of an 'accomplished woman' while maintaining a natural humility and 'insatiable curiosity'," her sister wrote.

Her sister added that Eaton would often worry about not giving her family enough time as well as devoting herself to science.

She continued, "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."

In a statement, the Max Planck Institute said Eaton 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 details surrounding Eaton's death have shocked locals, some of whom first thought she could have died in a hiking accident.