Russian Suspect Arraigned in Brutal Killing of American and former Marine Catherine Serou

Catherine Serou's mother said her daughter had been in a rush to get back to a clinic in Nizhny Novgorod and may have jumped into a passing car without waiting for her Uber to arrive.

A suspect has been charged in the brutal slaying of 34-year-old Catherine Serou, a former U.S. Marine and American studying in Russia who had been missing since Tuesday, authorities said.

Serou's body was found in a wooded area near the city of Nizhny Novgorod, 250 miles east of Moscow on Saturday, four days after she had gone missing, authorities said.

The suspect, Alexander Popov, 43, was arraigned on Sunday in court in central Russia on murder charges, CBS News said according to Russian News reports. Popov had a record of violent crimes.

Popov allegedly told interrogators that he drove Serou to a forest outside Nizhny Novgorod, where he allegedly raped her before battering her with his fists, East2West reported, according to The New York Post

Police said he stabbed Serou three times “before leaving her to die in the forest” outside the Bor suburb where she lived, the agency said, the Post reported.

The last text Beccy Serou received from her daughter was on Tuesday, according to National Public Radio. “In a car with a stranger. I hope I’m not being abducted,” Serou told NPR.

She said her daughter had been in a rush to get back to a clinic in Nizhny Novgorod and may have jumped into a passing car without waiting for her Uber to arrive, NPR reported.

“I think that was when she saw the person wasn’t driving to the clinic, but instead driving into a forest, she panicked,” said Serou, who said her daughter’s telephone last went off at a cell tower in the forest, according to ABC News. 

Days before she was found, Becky Serou told a number of media outlets that she was hopeful since her daughter was a skilled Marine.

Marie Claire Serou, who spoke on camera to CBS Sacramento described her older sister as a “brilliant worldly woman” and  “wonderful person." She said that her sister  “was terrified in that car,” and was not sure if the text was sent by her sister, or by someone else.

Serou served in one tour in Afghanistan and was a graduate of UC Davis, and moved to Russia from California in the fall of 2019. She was attending Lobachevsky University in Nizhny Novgorod. Her mother said her daughter wanted to study Russian first before applying to law school in the United States. She said that her daughter enjoyed living there, NPR reported. 

Catherine’s death remains an international mystery and has sparked a criminal investigation. 

Marie Claire told CBS Sacramento that the police have told them what they know but she said “there are still so many holes and I don’t know if we’ll ever get all of the answers." 

The U.S. Embassy in Russia said in a statement that it is “aware of the issues and is working with the host country authorities to resolve it,” NPR reported.

The family created a GoFundMe to help with their travel expenses so they can travel to Russia in hopes of finding more answers.

Popov was ordered held for two months. He faces up to life in prison if convicted of murder, according to the Associated Press

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