ATHENS — The 33-year-old man who killed his young wife and mother of their infant at the Athens suburb of Glyka Nera and confessed to the crime on Thursday evening told police he staged a robbery that led authorities astray "to be able to stay out of jail with my child," police said at a briefing on Friday.
Police said that he had confessed to the crime, to staging the death and the robbery and to removing evidence from the surveillance camera.
Pilot Babis Anagnostopoulos, 33, had told police that robbers broke into their house, tied and gagged him by the feet of the bed where they killed Caroline Crouch, 20, his wife of British descent, by suffocation. Police said they had found their infant on the bed next to its dead mother.
At the briefing, police spokespersons described how he had called them at 6:20 am on May 11 to report a robbery and murder. They said they were "puzzled" by conflicting evidence early in the case, including the fact that there was hardly any evidence of a struggle on him, and that the ties on the husband's feet and hands appeared to have left very light marks, given the time he said he had remained immobilized. Police were also puzzled by the killing of the dog, which was found hanging off the balustrade.
The police said they turned their full focus on him after being unable to find evidence of other adults having been in the house. Additional evidence also became available that contradicted his claims, including a missing memory chip on the house's surveillance camera, evidence from Crouch's smartwatch that monitored her pulse, and evidence from both their mobiles.
A warrant for his arrest was issued by a prosecutor, as he is considered a flight risk. He was escorted off Alonnisos island after his wife's memorial service, to the Attica police headquarters in Athens, where he confessed late on Thursday.
The pilot had publicly claimed that armed robbers broke into the couple’s home and tied up and gagged him and his wife in their bedroom as their months-old daughter slept. He had said the men stole cash before escaping.
The account shocked the nation and prompted government officials to announce a 300,000-euro ($365,000) reward for information about the crime.
Their daughter was unharmed, but the family dog was found choked to death on a leash, hanging from a staircase rail, authorities said.
“Everything was staged for the crime scene to look like the scene of a robbery,” Costas Hassiotis, director of the greater Athens homicide division told reporters, adding that the suspect had tied his own hands and those of his dead wife.
He said the examination of mobile devices, a smartwatch with a heart rate monitor used by Crouch, and cameras, had established a timeline that contradicted with the pilot’s testimony.
Hassiotis said forensic experts established the time a memory card had been removed from a security camera, adding to the evidence against the pilot.
Anagnostopoulos was detained after authorities summoned him for questioning Thursday while he was attending a memorial service for Crouch on the Aegean Sea island of Alonissos, where she grew up.
He was flown to Athens by helicopter from the nearby island of Skiathos, and interviewed for more than six hours before police announced that he was a suspect.
In a May 16 post on Instagram, Anagnostopoulos uploaded an undated photograph of the couple on a trip to Portugal for a wedding photoshoot, writing: “Always together. Farewell, my love.”
Charges levelled against Anagnostopoulos include two criminal offences – the murder of his wife and her dog – and two misdemeanors, giving false testimony to the police and casting suspicion on others for his actions.