The body of American scientist and Oakland native Suzanne Eaton was found inside a former Nazi bunker on the Greek island of Crete, police told CNN on Thursday.
The 59-year-old biologist went missing on July 2. Her body was discovered by two locals on Monday in a cave that had been turned into a bunker by Nazi soldiers during the Second World War, according to Crete’s Chief of Police Konstantinos Lagoudakis.
Eaton’s body was found around 60 meters inside the cave beneath an air shaft which had been covered by a large wooden pallet, Lagoudakis added.
Eaton was attending a conference at the Orthodox Academy in Crete and is believed to have disappeared during a run.
The police said on Wednesday that Eaton was 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.
Lagoudakis told CNN on Thursday that he had never seen a case like this in his four years as police chief.
Her family initially believed Eaton, a regular runner, likely died during a run as a result of heat exhaustion or a fall in the rough terrain.
“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 post on a Facebook page set up by her family.
The horrific details surrounding Eaton’s death have shocked the locals, some of whom thought she died in a hiking accident. Crete is known to be among the safest of the Greek islands despite its size and the large number of tourists.
“We are deeply shocked and disturbed by this tragic event,” the Planck Institute at Dresden University in Germany, Eaton’s employer, said in a statement. “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, according to institute.