On May 12th of this year, news started emerging about the murder of a 19/20-year-old British woman who lived in Greece named Caroline Crouch.
Caroline was a statistics student at the University of Piraeus. When she was 8 years old, she moved to the island of Alonissos with her Filipino mother Susan Dela Cuesta and British father David Crouch.
Caroline lived with her husband, who was a pilot named Charalambos ‘Babis’ Anagnostopoulos (we will just call him Babis and their 11 month old baby named Lydia in the suburb of Glyka Beta in Athens.
At the time of Caroline’s murder, she and Babis had been together for 4-5 years, which means when they met she was only around 14-16 years old. There are some discrepancies in the media coverage of this story, and I assume this is due to translation issues.
You can view the Instagram accounts of the couple here:
Babis told police that burglars had forced their way into the couple’s home and had tied him up while holding a gun to their baby’s head and that the burglars forced Caroline to tell them where $54,000-worth of cash and jewellery was hidden. Then they strangled her.
A news article at the time said:
The robbers forced their way into the two-story house at 4.30am this morning after breaking a CCTV camera and hanging the family’s dog Bruno by its own leash.
According to news site Ta Nea, a fourth criminal kept watch outside the suburban home as the other three found the couple sleeping with their child in an attic bedroom.
Ms Crouch was tied to the bed using a T-shirt and was strangled to death, reportedly to stop her screaming for her baby’s safety.
Some conflicting reports say her husband was found sleeping in another room by the killers.
According to The Times, who spoke to a senior police officer, Babis tried to fight the gang off before he was tied to a chair.
Once the armed men fled, Babis managed to free himself to find his baby daughter crying beside the lifeless body of her mother, reports say.
An investigator said: “The woman appears to have been strangled by the robbers in their bid to locate jewellery and cash the couple may have had in their home.
“We are waiting for the coroner’s report to establish if there was any other type of assault.”
Local site Proto Thema reports that the distraught husband told police about the moment he was attacked by the three men.
He said: “It was shortly after five. I saw three hooded men. One was tall. They shouted and threatened in broken Greek.
“They tied me to a chair and then went on my wife.”
The same report quotes the pilot as telling police he was sleeping downstairs during the break-in
“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,” he reportedly told police.
Babis called the police around 6am.
The Greek government immediately issued a reward of $465k for info leading to the identification and arrest of the men involved.
Police spokesman Theodoros Chronopoulos described the murder as a “heinous crime, committed with extreme ferocity”.
He said: “We’ve seen several other ugly murders throughout the years. But this was extremely brutal and violent.”
Greek authorities began the investigation into Caroline’s murder. They found a psychologist who said he’d been treating Caroline for post-natal depression and had separately been treating Babis for an unspecified condition.
DNA evidence collected from underneath Caroline’s fingernails proved to be inconclusive.
The CCTV cameras at the home failed to provide clues because they were either not working or did not have memory cards on the night of the break-in.
Investigators were trying to work out how burglars had known there was £10,000 in cash in the house, after Babis told them the thieves seemed to know about it.
Someone in our group who is local to the area made this post right after the murder:
There is currently no suspicion around the husband.
He had recently withdrawn a large amount of money from the bank in order for the family to purchase a land lot and police are thinking that the robbers had inside knowledge of this and they were monitoring the couple’s moves.
There was foreign DNA under her nails that has been collected and they are running all the evidence through their criminal database.
They put the gun on the baby’s head to make them reveal where their money was, the woman started screaming and reacting physically (she was a martial arts athlete), they gagged her with her own shirt to stop her shouting and basically smothered her and left her on the bed.
Her cause of death literally just came out and it is asphyxiation due to airway obstruction.
The husband was on the floor, tied and blindfolded throughout this ordeal and at some point he said he stopped hearing his wife’s voice. It took him more than an hour to manage to untie himself and call the police.
I don’t think they entered with the intention of killing her and leaving him alive, I think she was collateral damage because they got scared by her shouting. Just like they killed and hanged their poor huskey dog that was barking.
I really don’t think the husband was involved, there was nothing in it for him and it really doesn’t look like one of those cases, but I guess time will tell.
At Caroline’s memorial service, Babis gave a eulogy and said:
‘Our loved ones are the most important people to us all,’ he said at the time – wiping away tears while holding their baby daughter in his arms.
‘You should always look after your loved ones and enjoy your time together.’
The investigation went on for over a month. A suspect was detained but released when it was found that they couldn’t tie him to the murder.
On June 15, there was a big break in the case. Detectives took biometric data from Caroline’s smart watch and analysed the exact time that her heart stopped beating. They learned that this time differed from Babis’ account of what happened. Police took him into custody for questioning.
Officers also say the couple were bickering in the hours before her death, with text messages exchanged in English showing one had called the other ‘stupid.’
In their first official statement in five weeks, the police said: ‘The husband of the victim in Glyka Nera (the Athens suburb) is at the homicide department, in order to be examined as the only eye witness following new data that has emerged from the inquiry.’
The day after Babis was taken in by police, he confessed to killing Caroline. Police determined that he had used his phone during a time when he initially told them that he was tied up and his activity tracker also alerted them to the inconsistency.
We learned that Caroline’s biometric watch later recorded an intense pulse stimulation when Babis began attacking her in front of their daughter. She was asleep when he began the attack. She fought him for some 10 minutes until her watch recorded that her heart had stopped.
Babis then placed baby Lydia next to her mother’s body in a bid to create a more convincing crime scene, investigators said.
He also drowned their puppy and hanged its body from a railing to blame fictional Albanian criminals whom police had been pursuing.
On the night of her death, Caroline messaged a friend saying she was leaving her husband. Data from her phone also showed she had tried to book herself into a hotel with her daughter.
Babis was interrogated for 8 hours before he confessed. “That night we had been arguing from early on. At some point she threw the child in her cot and she told me to get up and leave the house.
“She pushed me and punched me. My judgment became blurred, I strangled her and then I staged the robbery,” he reportedly said.
He was charged with premeditated murder, animal abuse, providing false testimony and filing a false police report about the robbery.
Caroline kept a diary and some excerpts were leaked to the media after Babis was arrested.
“I fought with Babi again. This time it was serious.
“I hit him, I cursed at him and he broke down the door.
“All I wanted was for him to ask how I am when I woke up. I woke up so weak and tired.
“I am thinking of leaving. I am thinking of going to my sister, I don’t know if I can keep going with Babi.
“I love him so much that I can’t leave him even though this relationship hurts me.”
When pregnant with Lydia in 2019, Caroline wrote: “Last night we fought with Babi because I had a meltdown because of my hormones.
“I yelled at him and hit him and told him I don’t want our baby…
“I am not well, I am very upset, I know he would never hurt my baby.
“My love for her is stronger than anything in the world.”
On July 3, 2020, when her baby daughter Lydia was a month old, Caroline wrote: “Today my little one is a month old- it’s also the day I told Babi I want to leave…I feel awful.”
Separately, Supreme Court prosecutor Vassilis Pliotas has ordered an investigation into how the diary entries were leaked to the media. In a letter to the Athens prosecutor on Tuesday, Mr Pliotas said their publication was an “affront to the deceased’s personality and may even contribute to generating a favourable climate for the defendant over the course of the criminal process”.
Babis has been appearing in court and more information about the night of the murder and his relationship with Caroline came out during some of the hearings.
Police released what they think is an accurate timeline of what happened on the night of Caroline’s murder:
0.35am, May 11: A CCTV camera on the ground floor of the couple’s home captures its last image, which police say shows Babis sitting on the sofa.
In his arms is his infant daughter, and in his hands is a phone which they say he was using to text Caroline, who was upstairs.
Detectives say the couple were in the midst of an argument.
1.20am: Babis removes the memory card from the camera, according to data stored in the device.
He will later admit to snapping it in half and flushing it down the toilet in what officers argue is evidence that Caroline’s murder was premeditated.
0.35am – 4am: Babis and Caroline continue to argue over text messages which officers describe as ‘particularly sharp and hard’ with the couple ‘fighting fiercely’.
At some point, Caroline messages a friend to say she is leaving her husband. She also attempts to check into a hotel for the night.
Police say the argument ended with a face-to-face confrontation in front of their daughter, with Caroline ordering Babis out of the house and telling him she wanted a divorce.
4.01am: A fitness tracker attached to Caroline’s wrist shows a sudden burst of heart activity. Detectives believe this is the moment a fight broke out between the couple.
In a statement to police, Babis said Caroline hit him and he lost control, throwing her on to the bed before pressing her face into a pillow.
4.11am: Caroline’s fitness tracker shows that her heartbeat has stopped, she is dead.
Detectives say Babis stuffed cotton into her mouth, then smothered her.
4.11am – 6am: Babis spends the pre-dawn hours staging an elaborate break-in.
According to the police’s version of events, he broke a latch on a downstairs window, then turned out hiding spots where valuables were kept to make it look like a burglary.
In a sick twist, he then drowned the couple’s seven-month-old husky puppy and hanged its body from the stair banister, later telling police that robbers must have killed it on their way in so it didn’t wake them up.
Officers say Babis then blindfolded himself, tied himself to the bed, and placed a call to a neighbour who alerted them to the ‘burglary’.
Babis also spoke about his panic on the night:
‘I thought of making one last attempt so that [Lydia] might at least grow up with her father.
‘I thought of disappearing [Caroline’s] body, but it was impossible for me to do so. Just looking at her, I cried.
‘The next thing I thought was to say that someone else did it. I would tell the police that robbers entered the house. I was in a panic. I did not know what to do. I thought that in order to look more plausible and to believe that rogue robbers had entered, I would have to hurt the dog.
‘No one would have thought that I could harm a dog.’
It also emerged that Babis asked Caroline’s parents for money after her murder:
‘First he killed Caroline, then he asked her parents for money to pay for her coffin and to fly her body from Athens for the funeral.
‘They gave him 4,000 euros. He paid nothing.’
Some media reports also allege that Caroline’s mother gave Babis 17000 euros ten days before the murder.
One theory that has emerged during court proceedings is that Babis was smuggling drugs for cartels and he killed Caroline when she found out. Police officers found the couple had recently purchased a £47,000 plot of land, designed a £140,000 home, and enjoyed an expensive get away to Dubai.
Caroline’s father David Crouch has said he believes there was ‘some foundation’ to rumors Babis was involved in drug smuggling.
Caroline’s parents Susan and David Crouch have spoken about the situation:
“Both Susan and I will spend the rest of our lives making sure that justice is done and ensuring that her little daughter Lydia is brought up with all the advantages that we can give her and that the memories of her mother live forever,” David Crouch, 78, told media outlets.
The Crouch’s have been given temporary custody of Lydia – it is thought that Babis’ family also want custody of the child. A permanent custody arrangement is pending by the court.
Babis faced the media outside of the Evelpidon Court Complex in Athens recently and said:
‘I would like to say a big sorry’ and ‘I wish I could go back in time, but I can’t.’
Protestors were screaming at him ‘ROT IN JAIL’ and ‘MONSTER’.
Babis is being held in custody at the notorious Korydallos prison, Greece’s main maximum-security facility which is located on the outskirts of Athens.
It is considered one of Europe’s worst jails and is blighted by gang violence, overcrowding and drugs. It’s so bad that the Greek government has vowed to shut it down.
Under Greek law, his trial has to take place within the next 18 months with Babis set to languish in the prison.
Media reports say that Babis defense will be that he was in a “blurred” state of mind after his wife was “verbally and physically aggressive towards him.”
If his account is believed, he could see any potential sentence reduced to a maximum of 15 years in prison.