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US student, ex-Marine found dead in Russia after she texted 'I hope I'm not being abducted'

The female victim's body was found in a forest in western Russia Saturday morning.

Updated: June 22, 2021 - 4:21pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The body of a former U.S. Marine was found in Russia after she hitched a ride with a stranger before texting her mother: "I hope I'm not being abducted," according to news reports.

The body of a 34-year-old law student and ex-U.S. Marine Catherine Serou was found Saturday morning in a forest outside of the town in western Russia where she lived, according to The Moscow Times.

Her body was found about an hour after a 44-year-old man was arrested in relation to her disappearance. Serou, from California, was a master’s student at Lobachevsky University.

Russia’s Investigative Committee, which investigates major crimes, said the unnamed suspect faces 15 years in prison if convicted.

"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, the victim’s mother, told NPR. "Her telephone last pinged off a cell tower in that forest."

Serou's mother said her daughter could have mistaken her abductor's car for an Uber vehicle as she was traveling back to a clinic where she had made a payment that didn't go through.

Serou had served in Afghanistan for one tour in the Marine Corps before earning a bachelor's degree in design and a master's degree in art history at the University of California, Davis.

She then enrolled in a master's program in law at Lobachevsky University in Nizhny Novgorod in the fall of 2019. Serou wanted to study Russian before applying for law school in the U.S. to be an immigration lawyer.