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Suspect charged with murder in death of American student Catherine Serou in Russia

By Katya Krebs, CNN

A suspect has been arrested and charged with murder in Russia after the death of Catherine Serou, an American student who vanished last week in the country’s Nizhny Novgorod region, a local court told CNN Sunday.

The Gorodetsky City Court in the region said the suspect, identified by the court only as P., has been detained until August 15 for murder. There is no indication from the court that the suspect has entered a plea.

Serou, 34, was a student at the State University of Nizhny Novgorod, east of Moscow. Her body was found in the Nizhny Novgorod region on Saturday.

The court alleged in a statement Sunday that the suspect picked Serou up in his car last Tuesday, June 15, before killing her about an hour later.

According to the court’s statement, the suspect saw the victim, identified as S., at a bus stop around 7 p.m. local time that night and offered her a ride.

At about 8 p.m., the court alleged, the suspect stopped in a forested area where, during a quarrel, he hit the victim several times with his fist and stabbed her at least twice with a knife he had.

The victim died of her injuries at the scene, the court’s statement said.

The United States Embassy in Moscow confirmed Serou’s death in Russia in a statement to CNN Saturday, adding, “We offer our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss. We are closely monitoring local authorities’ investigation into the cause of death. We are providing all appropriate assistance to the family.”

The Russian investigative committee (Sledcom) said in a statement on Saturday that the body of a “foreign citizen who went missing in the Nizhny Novgorod Region” had been found. The statement did not name Serou.

The student was last heard from on June 15 according to her mother, who was quoted in the statement on the committee’s website.

The committee said that Serou had left her house “at about 18:30 Moscow time on June 15th … got into a vehicle not identified by the investigation and headed in the direction of the village of Rekshino, Borsky District, Nizhny Novgorod Region.”

The committee added that Serou was last in contact with her mother by phone, when she said she was “traveling in a car with [an] unknown person.”

“Thank you all for your help trying to get Catherine home safe,” Beccy Webb Serou, Catherine’s mother, wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday.

“Unfortunately, we got a call from the police this morning telling us they found her body. As our family processes this news we’ll have more to say.”

A resident of the Nizhny Novgorod region was in police custody on suspicion of committing murder, Sledcom previously said.

The suspect, born in 1977, has been convicted “repeatedly” of “especially grave crimes,” the committee said. The person was cooperating with the investigation.

CNN’s Dakin Andone contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Europe/Mideast/Africa

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