US citizen disappeared in Russia, triggering criminal investigation: NPR
Courtesy of Beccy Serou
Catherine Serou, an American citizen studying in Russia, has been missing since she got into a car with a stranger on Tuesday. Authorities in Nizhny Novgorod, 400 kilometers east of Moscow, have launched a criminal investigation and are searching a wooded area outside the city where Serou’s cell phone was last recovered.
On the day of her disappearance, Serou managed to text her mother in Vicksburg, Mississippi, the last sign of life for the 34-year-old graduate student and former Marine.
“That said, ‘In a car with a stranger. I hope I’m not kidnapped.’ And that’s the last thing she wrote, “Beccy Serou said in an interview with NPR. “She’s out there in that forest, I think, relying on her mind – if she wasn’t killed – to stay alive.”
Serou enrolled in a master’s degree program in law at Lobachevsky University in Nizhny Novgorod in the fall of 2019, according to his mother. Serou wanted to study Russian before applying for law school in the United States and pursuing a career as an immigration lawyer.
Thursday, regional investigators said they had opened a case of potential murder after the disappearance of Serou following the SMS sent to his mother. Investigators have since appeals to residents from Bor, the Nizhny Novgorod suburb where Serou lived and the surrounding area to provide clues to the apparent kidnapping.
More than 100 volunteers combed the forests north of Bor on Thursday, said Marina Makeyeva, spokesperson for the search and rescue group. Rys, or Lynx. His organization published review with photo of Serou on social networks.
Beccy Serou, a paralegal, last saw her daughter about two years ago, when Catherine sold her condominium in California to fund her studies in Russia. They kept in touch with daily phone calls, and Beccy Serou says her daughter is enjoying her time abroad.
“She loved college,” Beccy Serou says. “I’m not going to use the past tense, I’m sorry for doing that. She loves college. There are very small classes, very good teachers, and she also had a lot of friends outside of college. “
Serou was in a hurry on Tuesday to return to a clinic in Nizhny Novgorod where she had made a payment that was unsuccessful, according to her mother, so she may have jumped into a passing car without waiting for her Uber to arrive.
“I think that when she saw that the person was not going to the clinic by car, but that she was heading towards a forest, she panicked,” says Beccy Serou. “His phone rang the last time on a cell phone tower in this forest.”
Beccy Serou says that the Nizhny Novgorod police have spoken to him five times already and that Lobachevsky University is also providing support. Serou has also been in contact with the US Embassy in Moscow, which is understaffed due to a diplomatic standoff with Russia.
When asked about Serou’s case, the US embassy said in a statement that it was “aware of the problem and is working with the authorities in the host country to resolve it.”
Prior to earning a bachelor’s degree in design and a master’s degree in art history from the University of California at Davis, Catherine Serou served in the Marine Corps. and toured Afghanistan. This experience gives her mother hope for her daughter’s current situation.
“She’s a Marine, she has survival skills,” explains Beccy Serou. “And so I think if anyone can survive it, she can.”