Authorities in Russia have charged a man with murder in the death of U.S. student Catherine Serou, who went missing last week and was later found dead.
A local court said suspect Alexander Popov gave Serou a ride before taking her to a wooded area where he beat and stabbed her during a "dispute," The Associated Press reported.
Popov, who is reported to have a record of violent crimes, could face life in prison if convicted.
Serou's mother, Beccy Serou, told NPR last week that her daughter was in a hurry last Tuesday to return to a clinic in the city of Nizhny Novgorod, about 250 miles east of Moscow, where she had made a payment that didn't go through. The 34-year-old graduate student and former U.S. Marine had enrolled in a master's program in law at Lobachevsky University in Nizhny Novgorod in 2019 and hoped to pursue a career as an immigration lawyer, her mother said.
Beccy Serou said Catherine may have gotten into a passing car without waiting for her Uber ride to arrive. The two stayed in touch with daily phone calls, and Beccy said that on the day her daughter went missing, she received one final text message.
"It says: 'In a car with a stranger. I hope I'm not being abducted.' And that's the last thing she wrote," Beccy Serou said in an interview.
Serou said she had been in touch with police in Nizhny Novgorod multiple times since her daughter's disappearance, as well as with officials at Lobachevsky University.
In a statement to NPR, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow said it was "closely monitoring local authorities' investigation into the cause of death" and "providing all appropriate assistance to the family."
"We offer our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss," the embassy said.