A suspect has been arrested and charged with murder in Russia after the death of U.S. student Catherine Serou. She was reported missing last week in Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod region, according to CNN News.
According to the Gorodetsky City Court, the suspect was identified only as “P”. He has been detained until August 15 for the murder. The suspect has not yet entered a plea.
Serou, 34, was an international student at the State University of Nizhny Novgorod, east of Moscow. Her body was found in the Nizhny Novgorod region on Saturday, June 19, according to CNN.
The court released in a statement on Sunday, June 20, that the suspect picked Serou up in his car on Tuesday, June 15, before then killing her about an hour later.
According to the court’s statement, the suspect saw the victim, identified only as “S” in court records, at a bus stop around 7 p.m. local time on June 15 and offered her a ride.
At about 8 p.m. that same night, the suspect stopped in a forested area where, during a physical quarrel, he hit the victim several times with his fist and stabbed her at least twice with a knife, according to CNN.
Serou died from her injuries at the scene of the crime, according to documents released by the court. The suspect faces up to life in prison if convicted.
Her mother, Becky Serou, of Vicksburg, Mississippi, told NPR that her daughter had last texted her: “In a car with a stranger. I hope I’m not being abducted.”
Serou moved from California to Russia in 2019 to study law at Lobachevsky University in Nizhny Novgorod, according to Arkansas Online News.
Becky Serou told NPR that her daughter was in a hurry to get to a clinic on Tuesday and may have gotten into a passing car.
“I think that when she saw that the person wasn’t driving to the clinic, but instead was driving into a forest, she panicked.” Serou told NPR.
According to NPR, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow said in a statement that they are “closely monitoring” the local authorities investigation and proving “all appropriate assistance” to Serou’s family.
Serou served in the U.S. Marine Corps and did one tour in Afghanistan before earning a bachelor’s degree in design and master’s degree in art history at the University of California at Davis.