Body of Missing Female Scientist Found on Ikaria

(Nikos Litsardis/ikariaki.gr via AP)

For the second time in a month, the body of a foreign female scientist who vanished was found on a Greek island, this one on Ikaria under unknown circumstances, after an American woman was murdered on Crete.

Greek search crews discovered the body of British-Cypriot astrophysicist Natalie Christopher, 34, who went missing while on holiday with her boyfriend from Cyprus, finding her in a ravine near where she had been staying.

Police said the body was found Aug. 7 in a 20-meter (65-foot) deep ravine. Christopher had been reported missing on Aug. 5 by her Cypriot partner with whom she was vacationing after she went for a morning run.

The cause of death was not immediately clear. “The crucial element is that we wait for the coroner’s report in order to find the cause of death,” police spokesman Theodore Chronopoulos said, estimating it would take several days.

When asked if authorities thought the two disappearances might have any connection, Chronopoulos said the cases had “nothing” to do with each other, and continued, “we’re talking about two different incidents.” Crete and Ikaria are more than 124 miles apart.

Rescuers told Greece’s state ERT TV that the woman appeared to have slipped and suffered fatal injuries while rock climbing.

Police, firefighters, volunteers and the Coast Guard had been scouring the area where Christopher had been staying during her vacation, which has paths along ravines and steep seaside cliffs. A specialized police unit with geolocation equipment was sent to the island to help in the search.

Cypriot authorities said they were in close contact with Greek search crews and the woman’s family. “I express the sincere condolences of the Cypriot state and of myself to the family and friends of Natalie Christopher,” Cypriot Justice and Public Order Minister George Savvides said after being informed that the body had been identified.

The discovery came after Greek detectives joined an island-wide  after police reportedly found blood on a pillow in the hotel bed in the room where she and her boyfriend were staying while on vacation.

She was reported missing by him – he wasn’t identified – hours before they were supposed to fly back to Cyprus, the case coming as a commemoration was being held on Crete for American scientist Suzanne Eaton, was who raped and murdered there in June.

Christopher vanished after she was said to have gone out for a jog near the village of Kerame on the island, said Kathimerini.

Greek-Cypriot media also cited unidentified Greek police sources saying stains that looked like a nosebleed were found on the bed in the couple’s hotel room, which was sealed off by police who were checking cell phone records from the couple.

Reports said the boyfriend, a 38-year-old Cypriot man, reported her missing around 12:40 p.m., two hours after he said he awoke to find she wasn’t there. It wasn’t reported why he waited to call authorities.

Media reports also said the man told law enforcement officials that he tried to reach his girlfriend on her mobile phone and that she answered to tell him she had gone for a jog but then didn’t answer his follow-up calls.

Helicopters flew over the area where she was believed to have disappeared, said local TV reports, adding that her mobile phone had apparently been switched off. The search area expanded to an area about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) wide in an area that was open.

Reports said her last phone signal was picked up by a cell phone tower in Fournoi, an archipelago off Ikaria, and as the helicopter sent from Athens was also equipped with an infra-red camera to pick up heat images, and as volunteers and firefighters joined the hunt before she was found, and as the Greek Police (ELAS) said a preliminary inquiry was being conducted by Samos police headquarters, a bigger island 19 kilometers (11.8 miles away) within sight of the Turkish coastline nearby.

Ikaria is famed as one of the few Blue Zones in the world, where many residents live past the age of 100 because of a less-stressful lifestyle, moderate wine consumption and without always checking the time constantly.

 

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)