Twenty year old Caroline Crouch was strangled to death inside her home on the Greek island of Alonnisos.
At the time of her murder, she was at home with her thirty two year old husband, Charalambos Babis Anagnostopoulos and their 11 month old daughter Lydia.
The investigation into Caroline's death is in the early stages and is currently ongoing but Investigators have said that they believe a gang was involved in Caroline's murder and their house was targeted as they were aware they had cash inside. This is based on other burglaries in the area and the account Babis gave to police.
Caroline Crouch with her husband Charalambos Anagnostopoulos
Police believe that at 4.30am on the 11th of May 2021, four men broke a security camera outside and removed security pins from a basement window to gain access into the property. One man remained outside to keep watch and the other three entered the house. The family dog, a husky named Bruno, was inside and he was strangled using his own leash and his body was hanged from a stair banister.
According to Babis, the men who entered the house were masked and armed. He told police that they tied him to a chair. They asked where the money was and he told them. He was bound and gagged. He said that he believed he fell unconscious for around 30 minutes due to how tight the tape was around his neck. Caroline, who was upstairs in the attic area with Lydia, was tied to the bed and the men demanded to know where the money was. According to Babis, they spoke in broken Greek.
Over the course of an hour, Caroline was tortured and then strangled. During that hour, the men searched the house looking for more money and even though they had all the money that Babis and Caroline had, they thought there was more. Babis managed to get free and called police. He found Caroline in the attic with Lydia. Lydia was unharmed. Babis told police:
"When I managed to break free, I rushed upstairs to the attic to find my wife on the floor facing down, and the baby next to her wailing."
Babis told police that the men had a silver colt and black pistol. That information was of assistance to police as that type of weapon is rarely used in Greece. He also described the men. Two of the men were around six foot tall and were slim and athletic and the other man was short and fat and he was the one who seemed to be in charge.
Police believe that Caroline, a black belt kick boxer, may have tried to fight back in order to protect her daughter. Babis told police that they had recently bought a plot of land and had money in the house for the initial work required. It was Caroline's dream to build a cat sanctuary on the new land in Drafi which is 20 minutes away from Athens.
Police are investigating whether the gang discovered that Babis had withdrawn 100,000 Euros from the bank to make this purchase and that was the amount that they believed Babis and Caroline were hiding in the house. But they had already purchased the land and the money had been paid so it wasn't in the house. They had money to pay the builders for initial work on the land only and kept it inside a Monopoly boardgames box which they told the men about almost immediately.
Caroline Crouch with her husband Charalambos Anagnostopoulos and their daughter Lydia
Just four days before Caroline's murder, another home invasion took place twenty minutes away from Caroline's house. During that incident, a couple and their cleaner were bound and gagged. There were five men involved in that burglary and items were stolen. DNA found at the house was linked to a Georgian man.
That man came to the attention of Bulgarian authorities at the border.He was stopped in the north-eastern town of Evros on foot of carrying a fake passport. He was arrested. But police have said there has, as of yet, been no direct link between the man and Caroline's murder and everything is still open. They are looking at all possibilities.
At Caroline's funeral, Babis said:
"I was very lucky that I knew Caroline and that she loved me. I was very lucky for all the moments we shared. One thing that makes me even more sad than her death is the fact that our daughter will grow up without remembering her beautiful mother who was the joy of my life. But through her daughter, Caroline will always be with me and with all of us. Our loved ones are the most important people to us all.You should always look after your loved ones and enjoy your time together."
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