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'Criminal act' likely in death of American scientist in Greece

The scientist was attending a conference in Crete when she disappeared last week.
Image: Suzanne Eaton
Molecular biologist Suzanne Eaton was reported missing while attending a conference on the Greek island of Crete.AP Photo

ATHENS, Greece — A state coroner on the Greek island of Crete who examined the body of a woman believed to be of a missing American scientist said she had died as a result of a "criminal act."

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 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.

Papadomanolakis said he believed the woman died around the time she was last seen, on July 2.

Authorities had launched a major search for Eaton in rural areas near Chania, helped by members of her family and fire service rescuers from Athens.

"We showed respect for her remains, which were found in a tunnel," Fire Service rescue team leader Nikolaos Papaleonidas said. "The recovery operation was not difficult but it followed an extensive search effort. The tunnel was about 100 meters from a rural road."