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Published: Tuesday, July 16, 2019 @ 6:24 PM
CRETE, Greece — A man was arrested after Greek officials said he admitted to raping and killing Suzanne Eaton, a 59-year-old American scientist who was visiting Greece for a conference.
The unnamed 27-year-old man was brought in for questioning Monday and was later arrested after confessing to the crime, Maj. Gen. Constantinos Lagoudakis, director of Police General Directorate of Crete, told media outlets at a press conference. Police said they also had DNA evidence linking the man to Eaton.
Eaton, a U.S. citizen and group leader at the Max Planck Institute at Dresden University in Germany, disappeared on July 2 near the port city of Chania while attending the conference at the Orthodox Academy in northeast Crete. Her body was found July 8 in a cave that was turned into a bunker by Nazi soldiers during World War II, Lagoudakis told CNN.
The suspect told police in his confession that he saw Eaton out running, and "with sexual assault as a probable motive, hit her twice with his car in order to immobilize her," Lagoudakis said.
The suspect then put Eaton, who was unconscious, in the trunk of his car and took her to the old World War II bunker where her body was found, police said. He raped Eaton and abandoned her body in the bunker's ventilation drain, which he covered with a wooden pallet, police said.
It's unclear if Eaton was alive when she was raped.
"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," Eleni Papathanassiou, a spokeswoman for Crete's police department, said in a statement Tuesday.
An autopsy determined Eaton died around noon on July 2, ABC News reported. Her body showed signs of "a violent criminal act and possibly sexual abuse," Lagoudakis said. She had broken ribs and face bones, as well as injuries to both hands, according to Papathanassiou's statement.
Eaton's cause of death was previously reported to be asphyxiation, and her body was reported to have had stab wounds.
Eaton's remains will be returned to the United States for burial.