Scientist run over by car and raped

A suspect has been arrested over the brutal murder of American biologist Suzanne Eaton, who disappeared while jogging during a work conference in Greece earlier this month.

Dr Eaton, who was attending a conference at the Orthodox Academy of Crete, was last seen on July 2 when she left her hostel for a walk after lunch.

Greek police have now confirmed she was intercepted by an unnamed suspect, who has allegedly "confessed his crime".

Police Major Eleni Papathanasiou said the suspect was "motivated by sexual satisfaction" and had hit the 59-year-old with his car twice before abducting her, raping her and abandoning her in an abandoned World War II bunker, ABC News reports.

"Following the criminal proceedings, the perpetrator has been led to the District Prosecutor's Office while awaiting the results of the forensic, clinical and toxicological results of the examinations," Maj Papathanasiou said in a statement.

The suspect is a married 27-year-old local farmer and father of two who is also the son of a priest.

Dr Eaton's body was found six days after she was last seen by local residents who happened to be exploring the Nazi bunker.

The series of man-made tunnels were created by the Germans during their occupation of the island during the Second World War and used for storage.

Suzanne Eaton was allegedly killed by a 27-year-old local man during a lunchtime jog. Picture: AP Photo
Suzanne Eaton was allegedly killed by a 27-year-old local man during a lunchtime jog. Picture: AP Photo

GRIM NEW DETAILS

As the investigation into the shocking crime continues, gruesome new details of Dr Eaton's final moments have emerged.

According to the Daily Mail, the respected molecular biologist "had been stabbed, suffocated and one of her ears had been cut off" in the vicious attack, and her body was found with "many broken ribs, facial bones and multiple injuries to both hands".

Dr Eaton had also been raped, and DNA was found under her fingernails, indicating she attempted to fight off her assailant.

It is not known whether she was still alive when the rape occurred.

"The suspect reported that on July 2, 2019 … motivated by the intention to commit sexual assault, he hit her twice with his car to stop her," the Daily Mail reported Maj Papathanasiou as saying.

"According to his claims, he placed the victim, unconscious, in the boot of his car and transferred her to a ventilation drain in the wartime storage (tunnel), where after raping her abandoned her there."

The suspect allegedly covered the opening to the tunnel with wood to hide his crime before abandoning his victim. It is believed she died of asphyxiation.

Crete police chief Lieutenant General Constantine Lagoudakis told reporters the investigation had been helped by video footage from closed-circuit cameras and questioning people in the area.

"A particularly important element of our investigation was the discovery of recent tyre tracks near the (tunnel)," he said, according to AFP.

"This, in conjunction with the position of the body when it was found, suggested that it had been transferred to the site."

The suspect is in custody and was arrested days after police collected DNA samples from local residents in an attempt to track down the killer.

Her heartbroken family have paid tribute to the ‘devoted’ wife and mother. Picture: AP Photo
Her heartbroken family have paid tribute to the ‘devoted’ wife and mother. Picture: AP Photo

FRANTIC SEARCH

Soon after Dr Eaton's disappearance, concerned friends and relatives set up the Searching For Suzanne Facebook page in an attempt to collect information on her whereabouts.

It was initially feared she may have "become overheated" or "fallen" and injured herself during her run.

"Suzanne is a US citizen, a black belt in taekwondo, a molecular biologist at the Max Planck Institute in Dresden, Germany, the beloved mother of two sons, and wife of British scientist Dr Tony Hyman," an early message from her family posted to the page reads.

"Her family, including sister, brother-in-law, and niece and nephew, are all in Crete searching high and low."

Tributes have been flooding in since news of her death broke, with Facebook users revealing their shock at her brutal murder.

"I pray they find the evil that did this to her and hope that they get captured and penalised to the maximum," one Facebook user wrote.

"I cannot express how deeply saddened I am at the turn of events," another posted.

Her family and colleagues have also paid tribute to Dr Eaton.

"We have come to know Suzanne as a lively and committed woman who made a decisive contribution to the development of our institute. Her sudden and untimely death is devastating for us all," Michael Schroeder, director of the TU Dresden Biotechnology Centre, said in a statement last week, published by ABC News.

"We will remember Suzanne as a remarkable person. We are profoundly saddened and speechless."

The Daily Mail has also published statements from Dr Eaton's heartbroken family, including son Max who described his mother as a "remarkable woman".

Her mother Glynda said she was a "devoted wife and mother and dearly loved by her family".

Continue the conversation @carey_alexis | alexis.carey@news.com.au


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