Suspects identified in Caroline Crouch’s brutal home invasion murder

The burglars who strangled a young mother to death in front of her child in a violent home invasion are now being targeted by police – after the brave mum’s fight for life netted precious DNA.

British woman Caroline Crouch was killed at her home in Athens, Greece, by robbers who tied up her husband and forced him to listen helplessly.

The assailants, who seemed to have knowledge of the couple’s movements, attacked early on Tuesday morning in search of $50,000 of cash and jewels stored at the home.

The husband, 32-year-old helicopter pilot Charalambos Anagnostopoulos, survived alongside the couple’s infant daughter Lydia – who was found screaming next to her mother’s body.

While one man stood guard outside, three armed men broke into the home, destroying a CCTV camera and hanging the family’s dog by its leash to secure entry.

Anagnostopoulos said that, after a struggle, he was tied to a chair and gagged, Greek website Proto Thema reported.

The men then headed upstairs where Crouch was sheltering with her daughter.

“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 told police.

Another Greek news outlet, Ta Nea, reported that Anagnostopoulos heard the men threaten his daughter and they demanded his wife reveal the location of the loot.

“Tell us where the money is, [or] we will kill the baby,” the men reportedly said.

“They tied her up and tortured her, until she told them where the valuables were,” a senior investigator in Athens told the Times.

Police said the men eventually strangled the mum to silence her as she pleaded for her child’s life.

Now the net is closing on the killers – and DNA could play a vital role in the case.

“Clothes that the couple was wearing at the time and samples from the nails of the victim, who fought for her life and that of her baby, have been recovered and now being examined for any genetic material that could help identify the perpetrators,” a police spokesman said.

Reports in Greek media quoted a police source as saying that the gang had already been identified.

“The three robbers are professionals. They have what we call a criminal past,” the source said.

“That is, they are marked, they have gone through prisons and as it turned out, they are people with a strong anti-social element and a complete lack of emotions.”

He said that, despite being armed, the group used their bare hands to kill Crouch in what he said was a totally unnecessary act.

“This clearly shows their intention to kill. In a robbery, the question is money. It was not necessary to kill to achieve the goal,” he said.

Anagnostopoulos has revealed details from the ordeal – and where the money was hidden.

“I heard my wife screaming for help tied to the bed while I was tied to the floor.

“We screamed not to be hurt. We begged the thieves not to harm us. We told them where the money was and asked them to leave us alone.

“The baby was crying, my wife was crying and someone or some people were looking to find more money and jewellery. Suddenly they left the room and I couldn’t hear my wife’s voice any more.”

The money, which was hidden in a Monopoly box, was destined to pay builders for work on a plot of land the couple had recently bought.

Residents of the Greek island of Sporades, where Crouch grew up, said the robbers would have struggled to subdue the young mum, who was a proficient kickboxer.

“We are talking about a strong girl that you did not easily put down, so we are sure that somehow she must have resisted, that is why the perpetrators chose to kill her,” one local told Proto Thema.

The brutal crime has shocked Greece, despite the nation’s sad familiarity with gangland murders.

“We’ve seen several other ugly murders throughout the years. But this was extremely brutal and violent,” police spokesman Theodoros Chronopoulos said.

The Greek government has issued a $500,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the gang responsible for what the minister for public order, Michalis Chrisochoidis, called a “particularly heinous” crime.

“One rarely encounters such barbarity in Greece, in Greek society, even among criminals,” Chrisochoidis said.

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