By CBS13 Staff

MOSCOW (AP/CBS13) — A court in central Russia on Sunday arraigned a suspect on murder charges in the death of a UC Davis graduate who was studying at a local university.

Catherine Serou (credit: Beccy Serou)

The body of Catherine Serou, 34, was found Saturday in a wooded area near the city of Nizhny Novgorod, 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of Moscow. She had been missing since Tuesday.

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Her mother, Beccy Serou, of Vicksburg, Mississippi, told NPR that her daughter had last texted her: “In a car with a stranger. I hope I’m not being abducted.”

State news agency RIA-Novosti cited the local court as saying the suspect gave her a ride in his car, then took her to the wooden area and beat her and stabbed her “in the course of a dispute.” Russian news reports have identified the suspect as Alexander Popov and said he had a record of violent crimes.

He faces up to life in prison if convicted of murder.

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Serou moved from Northern California to Russia in 2019 to study law at Lobachevsky University in Nizhny Novgorod, news reports said.

“She was just a lovely person inside and out. She was inquisitive, she was articulate,” said Jenny Kaminer, Serou’s professor at UC Davis.

Beccy Serou told NPR that her daughter was in a hurry to get to a clinic Tuesday and may have gotten into a passing car.

Catherine Serou (credit: Beccy Serou)

“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 said.

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Beccy Serou on Sunday told CBS13 the family created a GoFundMe to help them go to Russia to get her daughter and her belongings.