By Steve Large

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The murder of a UC Davis graduate living in Russia has led to lots of questions about what led up to the violent attack.

Catherine Serou (credit: Beccy Serou)

Catherine Serou, 34, first went missing on Tuesday. This weekend, her body was found in the woods 250 miles from Moscow and a man is under arrest for her murder. He was reportedly identified after images of Serou in the passenger seat of his car were discovered on road camera footage.

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“It does not feel real, it really doesn’t feel real,” said Marie Claire Serou, the sister of the victim.

It’s a painful loss for a little sister still trying to understand a senseless crime.

“She was just a brilliant, wonderful person,” she said.

Marie Claire describes her sister Catherine as a one-of-a-kind, worldly woman moving to Russia to take courses at a university for a master’s degree.

Before police discovered her body after she’d been missing several days, her last contact was a text to her mother reading: “In a car with a stranger, I hope I’m not being abducted.”

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“It’s hard to say whether she wrote it or whether her phone was taken and someone in the car wrote it, but I know that she was terrified in that car,” Marie Claire Serou said.

Jenny Kaminer was one of Serou’s professors at UC Davis and had recently helped her apply for several scholarships in Russia.

“The fact that her time in Russia has come to such a senselessly tragic end, there really is no words to describe the devastation,” Kaminer said.

A graduate of UC Davis and a student of the world – her murder is turning into an international mystery.

“The police have told us what they know but there are still so many holes, and I don’t know if we’ll ever get all of the answers,” Marie Claire Serou said.

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Catherine Serou was also a Marine who served in Afghanistan. Marie Claire Serou says she is in daily conversations with the U.S. Embassy in Russia. She and her mother plan to travel there soon. The family has created a GoFundMe to help with their travels. You can contribute here.