Alexander Popov has confessed to raping and stabbing a former female US marine in Russia, then leaving her to die in a forest, according to local police.
Popov appeared in court on Sunday as a judge ordered his detention for two months over the death of Catherine Serou, 34, an Afghanistan veteran.
He is 43 years old.
Catherine Serou Murder
Serou had been studying law at a university in Nizhny Novgorod, a city 260 miles east of Moscow, after arriving from California three years ago.
Her body was discovered in a forest on the edge of the city on Saturday following a massive search operation by law enforcement and volunteers after she went missing last Tuesday.
The American had served with Cherry Point Marine Corps from 2006 to 2011 and had been posted to Afghanistan.
Serou, originally from New Orleans, had two degrees from the University of California Davis, before going on to study at Nizhny Novgorod State University.
She had British links, having written a thesis for her Masters’s degree on the famous Low Ham Mosaic in Somerset for her Master of Arts degree in Art History.
Alexander Popov Confession
Popov told interrogators that he drove her to a forest outside the city where he raped her before beating her with his fists. He then stabbed her three times ‘before leaving her to die in the forest’.
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He is held on a murder charge.
Some reports say that Popov was an ‘acquaintance’ of Serou, but the woman had messaged her mother in the US after leaving a grocery store – saying she was in a stranger’s car and feared she had been ‘abducted’.
The suspect is known to have previous convictions for rape, sexual assault, hooliganism, and robbery.
The attacks came after his latest release from prison, say reports.
Russian law enforcement had opened a criminal investigation after Serou was reported missing by her mother Beccy who had received a message from her daughter saying: ‘I’m riding in a car with a stranger. I hope I’m not being abducted.’
Police found that her cell phone signal had been traced to the village of Lindo-Pustyn, some 15 miles north of Bor, the suburb of Nizhny Novgorod where she lived.
As the hunt was underway, her mother said: ‘She is a Marine, she has got survival skills…
‘And so I think that if anybody can survive it, she can.’