An ex-convict with a history of violent sex crimes has appeared in a Russian court on charges he murdered former US Marine Catherine Serou, who had texted her mom, “I hope I’m not being abducted.”
Alexander Popov, 43, was filmed wearing a camouflage T-shirt and nervously fiddling with his hands in the courtroom dock late Saturday after the missing American law student’s body was found earlier that day in a wooded area.
He was arraigned on a murder charge after allegedly confessing to raping and then stabbing Serou, a 34-year-old veteran, and leaving her for dead, according to the East2West news agency.
Popov has a lengthy rap sheet that includes convictions for rape and sexual assault, as well as hooliganism and robbery, the agency said.
Serou — who moved from California to Russia in 2019 to study law at Lobachevsky University — had gone missing Tuesday evening.
In a rush, she appears to have accepted a ride from a passing driver rather than waiting for an Uber, her mom, Beccy Serou of Vicksburg, Mississippi, told NPR.
“In a car with a stranger. I hope I’m not being abducted,” she texted her mom.
Popov allegedly told interrogators that he drove her 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” outside the Bor suburb where she lived, the agency said, citing police.
Popov was ordered held for two months. He faces up to life in prison, if convicted, according to the Associated Press.