Who was Catherine Serou? Ex-Marine murdered in Russia texted mom 'hope I'm not being abducted'
The body of a former female US Marine has been found in Russia just hours after she texted her mother about catching a ride with a stranger. "I hope I'm not being abducted," the deceased Marine had written to her mother nervously, claim reports. Identified as Catherine Serou, the Californian was found dead on the morning of Saturday, June 19, in a forest just outside the suburb she was living in, in western Russia.
Serou's body was discovered just an hour after a 44-year-old man was arrested in the veteran's disappearance, said reports. According to what her mother told NPR, Serou went missing on Tuesday, June 15, while on her way to a business where she had some urgent payment issues to clear up. She is expected to have got into a passing car for a lift rather than wait for her own Uber, her mother thinks, based on the last text that Serou sent her. Surveillance footage also shows Serou looking out of the passenger side window of a silver car around the same time she went missing. Serou's death comes in the spate of shocking kidnapping and murder incidents of women all over the globe, starting with the young Brit Sarah Everard who vanished while on her way home, immediately after a significantly long phone call with her boyfriend. In Everard's case, a cop had been charged with kidnapping and murder. Serou's killer meanwhile faces life in prison, if convicted.
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Who was Catherine Serou?
The 34-year-old law student was found dead four days after she went missing in the Bor suburb of western Russian. Revealed to be an Afghanistan war vet, Serou's life came to a tragic end after she texted her mother: "In a car with a stranger. I hope I’m not being abducted,’’ said Beccy Serou, of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Serou is believed to have been on her way to a clinic (also reported as a beauty salon by media), but presumably panicked when she realized the driver was taking her somewhere else, her mother said. "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 shared, adding: "Her telephone last pinged off a cell tower in that forest.
Serou was last seen in a surveillance photo that captured her looking out of the car she was allegedly kidnapped in. She went missing while she was still in the car, in a suburb of Nizhny Novgorod, a city on the Volga River 250 miles east of Moscow. Her death is being currently investigated, with the US Embassy in Moscow, reportedly "closely monitoring" the probe. Her killer has been identified as Alexander Popov, who allegedly picked up Serou at a bus stop and gave her a ride before taking her to the woods, where he beat her up and stabbed her over a "dispute" within an hour. Popov has prior convictions and is cooperating in the investigation, said the Moscow outlet.
Serou loved the university
According to her LinkedIn profile, Serou had been trained as a logistics/embark specialist after joining the Marine Corps in August 2006. After being promoted to the rank of corporal two years later, Serou was deployed to Afghanistan from November 2008 to April 2009. She was finally discharged from the Corps in June 2011. Serou then pursued her research and education. She was in Russia to begin her law course while also learning the language so that she could return to the US and work as an immigration attorney, reports claim.
Enrolled at the Lobachevsky University about 250 miles east of Moscow, Serou was studying in its Master's program having completed her bachelor's degree in design, and an existing masters in art history from the University of California in Davis. A videotaped interview posted on a Russian Web site last year also sees Serou laugh about cultural differences between the two countries.
Before her body was found, Serou's hopeful mother had told NPR: "She loved the university. I'm not going to use the past tense, I'm sorry for doing that. She loves the university. It has very small classes, extremely good teachers and she had many friends outside the university as well." Over a hundred volunteers had also gathered to scour local forests for any sign of Serou after she had vanished.