Greek coroner: British hiker attacked, devoured by wolves

(AP image)

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — A missing British hiker whose dismembered, fleshless remains were found in the hills of northern Greece was probably attacked by wolves while walking alone on a remote path, torn apart and devoured, a Greek coroner said after an autopsy Wednesday.

Coroner Nikos Kifnidis told The Associated Press that both the woman’s thigh bones had been cracked open by bites and large sections of her body are still missing. He said a vet at Wednesday’s autopsy in the nearby town of Komotini confirmed that no dog or jackal could have administered such bites.

The remains — mostly bare, gnawed bones — were discovered Saturday near the village of Petrota, 285 kilometers (180 miles) east of the city of Thessaloniki.

Near them, authorities found a passport for Celia Lois Hollingworth, 63, whom the British embassy in Athens reported missing in the area Friday. The woman’s brother in England had raised the alarm with British authorities, reportedly telling them she had phoned to say she was being attacked by dogs.

Police have not confirmed the identity of the remains but say they most likely belong to Hollingworth.

“I concluded that the woman was attacked by wild animals who devoured her,” Kifnidis said. “I think she was eaten by a wolf or wolves.”

Wolves roam remote parts of Greece and have been reported in the Petrota area but attacks on humans are very rare and no fatal attacks have been reported in decades.

Kifnidis said there was a slight possibility that Hollingworth fell victim to a criminal attack by another human, but added “this is unlikely, as she herself phoned her brother and said she was being attacked by dogs.”

Tests on animal hairs found among the remains are expected to identify the carnivores, he added.

Police said Hollingworth had been visiting a seaside archaeological site at Messimvria on Thursday, where she arrived by taxi from the village of Maroneia — home to another ancient site — about 30 kilometers (19 miles) away by road. She was last seen alive later in the day on a path that forms a shortcut between the two sites.

The remains were found in the hills inland, toward Petrota.

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