A 27-year-old man confessed to raping and killing an American scientist who was in Crete for a conference, the Greek authorities said.
The alleged confession came Monday, 11 days after the 59-year-old Suzanne Eaton was declared missing on July 4 from the conference organizer – the same day the biologist was supposed to present his research to colleagues. Two amateur explorers found Eaton's body on July 8th, nearly 200 feet in a cave used as a refuge during World War II, according to police.
The authorities identified the suspect on Thursday.
Faced with the evidence, the resident of Crete Yiannis Paraskakis told the authorities that he had struck Eaton twice with his car, and brought it, unconscious, to his trunk at the abandoned shelter. She left her there after raping her, says the Crete police. Paraskakis, who comes from the city of Chania, where Eaton disappeared, was charged with murder and rape.
Prosecutors ordered the release of Paraskakis' identity in the public security interest and an investigation into other crimes that the man could have committed, police said Thursday in a press release .
Eaton died on July 2 from suffocation, based on forensic evidence and an autopsy, police said. It was discovered with injuries to both hands and broken ribs and facial bones.
The mother of two hailed from Oakland, California, but worked in Germany. She led a research group at the Max Planck Institute for Cellular and Genetic Molecular Biology in Dresden and was a professor at the Technische Universität Dresden.
"We are devastated by this senseless tragedy," the Max Planck Institute for Molecular and Genetic Cell Biology – where Eaton's husband is also a researcher – he said in a declaration last week.
Eaton was in Crete for the fourth time, in an international meeting of scientists at the Orthodox Academy of the Greek island, according to the police. He left his room at noon for his daily walk, leaving his cell phone and personal belongings behind.
Paraskakis told the authorities that he abducted Eaton – "motivated by sexual satisfaction", Crete police Eleni Papathanasiou said at a press conference on Tuesday – around noon that day as he headed for a monument called Evelpidon in the north of island.
The man said he brought Eaton into a ventilation shaft in the abandoned shelter and left his body there, blocking the opening with a wooden palette. Next to a cemetery, he cleaned his car of potential evidence, police said.
The authorities said they had collected blood samples and confiscated the machine, along with clothes and a suspect button. Paraskakis was brought to the District Attorney's Office pending forensic, clinical and toxicological examinations.
Police began searching "immediately" after Eaton's disappearance, Crete's police director Constantinos Lagoudakis told the media. An alert came out with information and images of Eaton and volunteers joined government agencies to look for the missing woman.
Eaton's husband and children went to Crete to help, a cousin said at the Associated Press. Family members have created a Facebook page to advertise the research.
The two people who eventually found Eaton were part of that growing effort, CBS News reported.
After Eaton's body was found in the cave, he said, the authorities considered its placement and from the wheel traces that led to the shelter pit that the woman had been brought there. The body has shown signs of a violent attack and potential sexual abuse.
CCTV filming, witness interviews and autopsy led the police to identify suspects and eventually enter Paraskakis.
The authorities are investigating at least seven other attacks on pedestrians that allegedly involve a car similar to the one that struck Eaton, second at the Greek state television broadcaster, the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation.
The women in two of the previous cases reported to the police, but the cases were closed, the issuer said. Paraskakis was arrested first for arson and injured and killed animals, the statement added, although the site does not provide further details.
While the police investigated, those who knew Eaton cried a sought-after researcher and a close friend, collaborator, and family member in more than two dozen tributes filled out from the Max Planck Institute. The Institute will likely publish a more detailed obituary in the coming days, spokeswoman Christina Beck told the Washington Post.
A public service will be held in Dresden on Tuesday, Eaton's niece, Callie Broaddus, told The Post.
The collaborators of the Eaton laboratory wrote in their tribute to their colleague's love for "the big and difficult questions of science", recalling his long interdisciplinary documents.
Family members also talked about his curiosity.
Eaton's mother remembered a daughter interested in everything that surrounded her, from the day she was born, a child "not drowsy and asleep but with his head up, his eyes alert". And Eaton's son Max said his mother was "always armed with questions".
Eaton "would show interest in any subject addressed," he wrote. "Many times I discussed with her some topics that I [I] had studied at the university and, within a week, she would have been very expert in that topic like my professors".
The family members remembered not only a scientist, but also a talented pianist who played duets with her husband, an enthusiastic gardener and a black taekwondo belt. They memorized it as a fast crossword puzzle finisher and avid reader.
The tributes focus on who Eaton was rather than on the tragic circumstances of his death.
"I made a conscious decision not to allow those facts to haunt me in memory," reads the tribute of Eaton's unnamed sister. "My memory will be of pure joy and gratitude, of love and admiration for a sister in arm, a closer confidant, a strong, kind, brilliant and selfless being who has made indelible contributions to science and has added an immeasurable beauty to our lives ".