ATHENS, Greece (CBS SF/AP/CNN) — A 27-year-old man has confessed to killing scientist Suzanne Eaton, who grew up in Oakland, on the Greek island of Crete, a police spokesperson told CNN Monday.
Crete authorities said the man was one of 10 people interviewed over the weekend for the investigation of Suzanne Eaton’s slaying.
Eaton, a 59-year-old molecular biologist, was attending a conference on Crete when she went missing on July 2. Her body was found a week ago. A coroner has said her death resulted from a criminal act but not provided details.
She was born and raised in Oakland, but worked at the Max Planck Institute in Dresden, Germany, and had been attending a conference in Crete.
She was found nearly 200 feet inside a cave, beneath an air shaft that had been covered by a large wooden pallet. The underground caverns had been turned into a bunker by Nazi soldiers during the Second World War.
The police said that Eaton had been asphyxiated. Minor stab wounds were also found on her body, but police said they were not believed to be the cause of her death. The police believe the body was dumped inside the cave, because it was found face down.
Eaton’s sister described her as an “accomplished woman” of “insatiable curiosity,” and praised her achievements.
“She took great pleasure in preparing exquisite meals and had an exotic fashion sense. She loved perfume. She taught and practiced Tae Kwon Do as a second-degree black belt. She finished crossword puzzles way too quickly, played concertos, and read extensively. She fit Jane Austin’s strictest description of an ‘accomplished woman’ while maintaining a natural humility and ‘insatiable curiosity’,” her sister wrote.
Her sister added that Eaton would often worry about not giving her family enough time as well as devoting herself to science.
She continued, “But anyone who read of her accomplishments in the field of molecular and developmental biology, or who witnessed her joy in tutoring, comforting, and inspiring her children, or sharing with, and loving her husband, would not have suspected. With a deep sensitivity and compassion, she somehow made us all a priority.”
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.