Student Studying Abroad In Russia Found Dead After Sending Her Mother Troubling Text

American Catherine Serou sent her mother a text that read, ‘I hope I’m not being abducted.’

June 29, 2021
Catherine Serou photographed in a blue blazer in front of a light blue background

Catherine Serou was studying law at Lobachevsky University in Nizhny Novgorod when she was murdered [via NNRU/YouTube]

By: Aaron Rasmussen

A Mississippi woman studying abroad in Russia was found murdered shortly after sending a disturbing message.

“In a car with a stranger. I hope I'm not being abducted,” 34-year-old Catherine Serou texted her mother, Becky Serou, at some point after getting into the vehicle on June 15.

Serou’s body was located four days later and a suspect is cooperating with investigators, National Public Radio reported, citing a Russian news site.

Authorities allegedly identified Alexander Popov as Serou’s killer after traffic surveillance camera footage captured images of the student in the passenger seat of his car, Russian media reported.

Alexander Popov seated in a camouflage t-shirt

Alexander Popov [via AP Images]

Becky Serou, of Vicksburg, Mississippi, said her daughter may have gotten into the vehicle instead of waiting for an Uber because she was rushing to a clinic to make a payment that hadn't been processed properly.

“I think that when she saw that the person wasn't driving to the clinic, but instead was driving into a forest, she panicked,” the victim’s mother told NPR.

Russian news agency RIA-Novosti reported the murder suspect stabbed Serou “in the course of a dispute,” according to CBS News.

Popov was arraigned on murder charges and faces a life sentence if convicted.

At the time of her death, Serou had been working towards her master’s degree in law at Lobachevsky University in Nizhny Novgorod, a city of over 1 million residents located around 250 miles east of Moscow.

“She loved the university,” said Becky Serou, noting her daughter sold a condominium in California in order to pay for and start the Russian school in fall 2019.

Serou, a Marine Corps vet who served in Afghanistan, planned to eventually return to the United States to continue her studies and become an immigration lawyer.

“It does not feel real, it really doesn't feel real,” Serou’s sister, Marie Claire Serou, told Sacramento’s KOVR. “She was just a brilliant, wonderful person.”

“The police have told us what they know, but there are still so many holes, and I don’t know if we’ll ever get all of the answers,” she added.

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