‘Russian sex pest raped then killed ex-US marine, 34’

Alexander Popov, 43, right, is charged with murdering Catherine Serou, left inset

Alexander Popov, 43, right, is charged with murdering Catherine Serou, left inset (Picture: AP)

A former US marine messaged her mum saying ‘I hope I’m not being abducted’ moments before she was raped and murdered in a forest in Russia.

Alexander Popov, 43, appeared in a Russian court on Saturday charged with the murder of Catherine Serou, 34, who he allegedly stabbed to death near the town of Bor, 270 miles east of Moscow.

Serou, who moved from California to Russia in 2019 to study law at the Lobachevsky University, went missing on June 15 after reportedly texting her mom ‘in a car with a stranger. I hope I’m not being abducted’.

Speaking to NPR, her mother, Beccy Serou, of Vicksburg, Mississippi, said Catherine appears to have accepted a ride from a passing driver rather than waiting for an Uber.

Alexander Popov, a man who was arrested on suspicion of murder sits behind the glass in a courtroom in the city of Gorodets, 60 km. (36 miles) north-west of Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, Sunday, June 20, 2021. A court in central Russia has arraigned the suspect on murder charges in the death of an American woman studying at a local university. The body of 34-year-old Catherine Serou was found Saturday in the woods area near the city of Nizhny Novgorod, 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of Moscow. (AP Photo/Roman Yarovitsyn)

Alexander Popov is charged with murder in the death of American student Catherine Serou (Picture: AP)

Her alleged attacker, Popov, is said to have told interrogators that he drove Catherine to a forest outside Nizhny Novgorod, where he raped her before pummeling her with his fists, East2West reported.

He then stabbed her three times ‘before leaving her to die in the forest’, according to police who spoke to the agency.

Popov has a history of committing sexual offence crimes and his past convictions include rape and sexual assault.

When he appeared in court on Saturday Popov was filmed wearing a camouflage T-shirt and nervously fiddling with his hands in the dock.

US citizen Catherine Serou, 34, is missing in Nizhny Novgorod region, Russia

US citizen Catherine Serou, 34, went missing on June 15 (Picture: Valeria Alexandrova)

He was arraigned on a murder charge during the hearing after allegedly confessing to police to raping and then stabbing Catherine.

Popov was jailed for two months pending his next court hearing and faces up to life in prison if convicted of Catherine’s murder.

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