Missing American scientist Suzanne Eaton found dead in abandoned WWII bunker in Greece
July 9, 2019 6:52 PM
(LONDON) -- Greek emergency workers believe they have found the body of an American scientist on the island of Crete, almost a week after she went missing.
Greek authorities recovered the body of U.S. citizen Suzanne Eaton on Monday evening, according to the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany, where Eaton was a research group leader.
Searchers on Tuesday said they had found Eaton's body in an abandoned World War II bunker around 7 miles from where she had been staying. Vangelis Zacharioudakis, who led the search effort by the Hellenic Rescue Team, told ABC News on Tuesday that the body was Eaton's.
"The road leading to the place where the woman was found is accessible, covered with cement and in the area there are many villas in which tourists stay. There are many people going out there and especially tourists who go either by hiking or to go to the villas where they have rented rooms. It is an amphitheatrical area where many tourists pass by daily," Konstantinos Beblidakis, the vice mayor of the local Platanias municipality, said in a statement.
The 59 year-old was a molecular biologist and had been visiting Crete for a conference when she disappeared. She is survived by two sons and her husband.
"It is with enormous sadness and regret that we announce the tragic demise of our dearest friend and colleague, Suzanne Eaton," the institute said in a statement Tuesday. "We are deeply shocked and disturbed by this tragic event. Suzanne was an outstanding and inspiring scientist, a loving spouse and mother, an athlete as well as a truly wonderful person beloved to us all. Her loss is unbearable."
Eaton, a native of Oakland, California, was last seen on Crete on the afternoon of July 2 near the port city of Chania where she was attending the conference organized by the Orthodox Academy of Crete. Greek authorities had launched a large-scale search for her in the area, using dogs and helicopters and joined by members of her family and volunteers.
Eaton's running shoes were missing from her room and all of her other belongings remained there, leading her family and colleagues to believe she may have gone for a run. Before her body was found, Eaton's family said they worried she might have got overheated in the baking temperatures on Crete or fallen in the rugged terrain there.
Police have not commented on what might have caused Eaton's death, and her institute said they had been informed the investigation was still underway to establish what had happened. Detectives from Athens were traveling to Crete to assist, The Associated Press reported. Her body has been sent to the town of Rethymno on Crete for an autopsy.
An official with the U.S. State Department told ABC News on Monday they were aware of reports that an American citizen was missing in Greece and were working closely with local authorities.
Eaton was also a professor at the Biotechnology Center of the Technical University of Dresden in Germany, known as TU Dresden. Her colleagues there described her as "an immensely renowned scientist" and "a remarkable person."
"We were shocked to learn of the death of our dear colleague and friend, Prof. Suzanne Eaton," Hans Muller-Steinhagen, rector of the TU Dresden, said in a statement Tuesday. "We have lost an immensely renowned scientist and a truly outstanding human being."
A call for help in assisting with the search for Eaton by her family and friends prompted a remarkable response, with a page set up to receive donations gathering over $40,000 in roughly 24 hours.
"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 Center, said in a statement Tuesday. "We will remember Suzanne as a remarkable person. We are profoundly saddened and speechless."
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