U.S. student studying in Russia found dead; suspect arrested

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June 19 (UPI) — An American woman studying in Russia was found dead after going missing four days ago, Russian police said Saturday.

Russia’s Investigative Committee said 34-year-old Catherine Serou’s body was found following a large-scale police search.

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A man in his 40s who had previously been convicted of multiple serious crimes was arrested on suspicion of abducting and murdering Serou and was cooperating with the investigation, police said.

Serou’s mother, Beccy Serou, told NPR she moved to Russia from California and enrolled in a law masters at Nizhny Novgorod’s Lobachevsky University in Moscow in the fall of 2019.

Authorities launched a search for her in the city of Nizhny Novgorod, about 250 miles from Moscow. She went missing after leaving her house in Bor, a suburb of the city, on Tuesday evening after getting into an unknown vehicle.

Her mother said Serou sent her a text message on Tuesday evening, saying she was in a car with a stranger.

“It says: ‘In a car with a stranger. I hope I’m not being abducted.’ And that’s the last thing she wrote,” her mother said.

She added that Serou was in a hurry to get to a clinic where she had made a payment that didn’t go through and may have jumped into a passing car instead of waiting for an Uber.

“I think that when she saw that the person wasn’t driving to the clinic, but instead was driving into a forest, she panicked,” her mother said.

Serou served in the Marine Corps and did one tour in Afghanistan before earning a bachelor’s degree in design and a master’s degree in art history at the University of California, Davis.