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Suspect Arraigned in Killing of American Student in Russia

Brittany Jordan

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Alexander Popov, a man who was arrested on suspicion of murder sits behind the glass in a courtroom in the city of Gorodets, 36 miles north-west of Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, on June 20, 2021. (Roman Yarovitsyn/AP Photo)

MOSCOW—A court in central Russia on Sunday arraigned a suspect on murder charges in the death of an American woman who was studying at a local university.

The body of 34-year-old Catherine Serou was found Saturday in a wooded area near the city of Nizhny Novgorod, 250 miles east of Moscow. She had been missing since Tuesday.

Her mother, Beccy Serou, of Vicksburg, Mississippi, told U.S. National Public Radio 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.

alexander-popov
Alexander Popov, a man who was arrested on suspicion of murder and surrounded by police officers, arrives at a courtroom in the city of Gorodets, 36 miles north-west of Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, on June 20, 2021. (Roman Yarovitsyn/AP Photo)

He faces up to life in prison if convicted of murder.

Serou moved from California to Russia in 2019 to study law at Lobachevsky University in Nizhny Novgorod, news reports said.

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.

Brittany Jordan is an award-winning journalist who reports on breaking news in the U.S. and globally for the Federal Inquirer. Prior to her position at the Federal Inquirer, she was a general assignment features reporter for Newsweek, where she wrote about technology, politics, government news and important global events around the world. Her work has also appeared in the Washington Post, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Toronto Star, Frederick News-Post, West Hawaii Today, the Miami Herald, and more. Brittany enjoys food, travel, photography, and hoarding notebooks and journals. Her goal is to do more longform features journalism, narrative writing and documentary work, and to one day write a successful novel and screenplay.

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