A court in central Russia has arraigned a man suspected of killing an American ex-marine who was studying at a local university.
The body of 34-year-old Catherine Serou was discovered on Saturday in a wooded area near the city of Nizhny Novgorod, about 400 kilometres east of Moscow.
She had been missing since Tuesday and had last texted her mother, Beccy Serou, to tell her: "In a car with a stranger. I hope I'm not being abducted."
A man in his 40s, Alexander Popov, was arrested in connection with the killing. Russian police said he had a history of violent crimes. If convicted of murder, he faces up to life in prison.
Serou moved from California to Russia in 2019 to study law at Lobachevsky University. Beccy Serou told NPR that her daughter was in a hurry to get to a clinic on the Tuesday.
Hitchhiking is common in Russia and drivers often offer lifts for a small fee. Russian 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 wooded area and stabbed her "in the course of a dispute."
The case continues.