NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — A day after the body of a 34-year-old New Orleans native was found in a wooded area in Russia, the mother of murdered Catherine Serou shared her final text messages with NPR on Sunday.
“In a car with a stranger. I hope I’m not being abducted,” texted the former U.S. Marine to her mother, Beccy Serou of Vicksburg, Miss.
Serou, who was studying abroad at a local university, was found near the city of Nizhny Novgorod, 250 miles east of Moscow, after being reported missing since Tuesday. Serou apparently accepted a ride from a stranger rather than wait for a car from a ride-hailing service, according to the New York Post.
On Sunday, a Russian court arraigned the suspect, Alexander Popov, on murder charges.
Popov, who has a record of violent crimes, allegedly gave Serou a ride, then took her to a wooded area before beating and stabbing her to death.
Popov faces life in prison if convicted.
“We are shocked and saddened to learn of the murder of Catherine, a former Franklin student, but we are relieved to learn that there is a suspect in custody and hope justice will be served. We send our deepest condolences to her family and friends,” said a representative of New Orleans’ Ben Franklin High School in a statement sent to Nexstar’s WGNO on Monday.
Serou attended BFHS from the ninth grade to the 11th before transferring after her junior year.
Serou’s sister in New Orleans said the family is devastated and has set up a GoFundMe to help the family with the expenses associated with repatriating Catherine Serou’s remains from Russia.
“Catherine Serou could do anything,” said sister Marie-Claire Serou on the GoFundMe page.
“Brilliant and beautiful, she found joy in learning, growing, eating, traveling, building, crafting and caring for animals. Our family is devastated, left only with memories of her wonderful spirit and our time together. We need your help to honor her memory.”