ATHENS, Greece (CBS / AP / CNN) — An American scientist whose body was discovered several days after she went missing on the island of Crete was asphyxiated, police said Wednesday.
Antonis Papadomanolakis told The Associated Press Wednesday that final confirmation was still needed to confirm the identity of the body found Monday outside the port city of Chania, but he added it was highly likely it was Suzanne Eaton, a 59-year-old molecular biologist, who was reported missing last week.
“The only thing we can say is that the (death) resulted from a criminal act,” the coroner said. “We can’t give out any other details because there is an ongoing police investigation.”
Eaton, who was born and raised in Oakland worked at the Max Planck Institute in Dresden, Germany, had been attending a conference in Crete.
The police said officers from Athens including homicide detectives had traveled to the island to head the investigation.
Meanwhile, the institute offered its condolences to Eaton’s family.
“We will remember forever the extraordinary scientist so caring and devoted to her family and friends and so beloved by us all,” the statement said. “We remain in disbelief of this shocking and awful tragedy.”
Hans Müller-Steinhagen, university rector, said in a statement, “We have lost an immensely renowned scientist and a truly outstanding human being.”
Local authorities “have not yet completed their investigation regarding the events that may have transpired” on the afternoon Eaton went missing, the institute said in an earlier statement.
“We are deeply shocked and disturbed by this tragic event,” it added. “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.”
Eaton was the wife of British scientist Tony Hyman and mother of two sons, Max and Luke, according to the institute.
On Tuesday morning, a post on the Facebook page set up by her family — called “Searching for Suzanne” — said: “We cannot comment on anything at this time, but I will post a message here when the time is appropriate.”
Eaton usually ran for 30 minutes every day and was a regular face at the conference, according to the Facebook page. Her family believe she went missing during a run within 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) of the academy complex.
“Due to the rough terrain and extreme heat, we believe the most likely possibility is that Suzanne may have either become overheated and looked for shade or that she may have fallen,” said a Facebook post.
While Eaton’s employer acknowledged in an earlier statement that the “most likely” scenario was that she had gone for a run, it added: “There are many observations that challenge such a theory, including the heat of the day suggesting that a swim would have been more attractive.”
“As well as being a leading scientist in her field, Suzanne is a strong athlete, runner and senior black belt in Tae Kwon Do,” the statement added. “If anyone can find her way out of a difficult situation it is Suzanne.”
© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press and CNN contributed to this report.