American scientist Suzanne Eaton raped and killed in Greece: 27-year-old suspect identified

The suspect told authorities he was "motivated by sexual satisfaction" when he deliberately hit the 59-year-old scientist with his car, then raped and killed her.

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By Ben Kesslen

The man charged with the killing and rape of a prominent American scientist who was in Greece for a conference has been identified.

Yiannis Paraskaki, 27, of Crete, was identified by Greek authorities Thursday. Police say he confessed to the crimes after police questioning earlier in the week.

Suzanne Eaton, 59, a molecular biologist, was in Crete for the conference and is believed to have gone for a walk or jog around midday July 2. She never returned.

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A massive search to find her was launched on Crete, Greece's largest island and a popular tourist destination, with search dogs, fire service rescuers, specialized sea equipment and volunteers. Eaton's husband and two sons traveled to the island to help look for her, and her family and friends raised tens of thousands of dollars to aid in the search effort, which lasted six days.

Her body was found July 8 in the ventilation drain of an abandoned World War II bunker outside the port city of Chania.

When Greek police brought in Paraskaki for questioning, he admitted to raping and murdering Eaton, saying he was "motivated by sexual satisfaction."

He said he deliberately hit Eaton twice with his car, put her in his trunk, and abducted her. After assaulting and killing her, he dumped her body and tried to scrub his vehicle of evidence, authorities said.

An autopsy showed Eaton died from suffocation and had multiple broken bones in her ribs and face, and injuries to her hands.

She worked at the Max Planck Institute in Dresden, Germany, which described her as a leading scientist in her field and mourned her death in a statement. She was attending a conference at the Orthodox Academy of Crete.

"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," the institute said. "Her loss is unbearable."