MOSCOW (AP/CBS13) — A court in central Russia on Sunday arraigned a suspect on murder charges in the death of a UC Davis graduate who was studying at a local university.
The body of Catherine Serou, 34, was found Saturday in a wooded area near the city of Nizhny Novgorod, 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of Moscow. She had been missing since Tuesday.
Her mother, Beccy 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."
State news agency RIA-Novosti cited the local court as saying the suspect gave her a ride in his car, then took her to the wooden area and beat her and stabbed her "in the course of a dispute." Russian news reports have identified the suspect as Alexander Popov and said he had a record of violent crimes.
He faces up to life in prison if convicted of murder.
Serou moved from Northern California to Russia in 2019 to study law at Lobachevsky University in Nizhny Novgorod, news reports said.
"She was just a lovely person inside and out. She was inquisitive, she was articulate," said Jenny Kaminer, Serou's professor at UC Davis.
Beccy Serou told NPR that her daughter was in a hurry to get to a clinic 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," Beccy Serou said.
Beccy Serou on Sunday told CBS13 the family created a GoFundMe to help them go to Russia to get her daughter and her belongings.
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