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Did Murdered Colorado Nanny Lauren Mann Meet Killer on Couch-Surfing Site?

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Update: We've been reporting about the January murder of Lauren Mann, a Colorado native and former CU Boulder student who was killed in Vienna, Austria, where she'd been working as a nanny; see our previous coverage below.

There are new developments in the case — one involving the extradition of the suspect and a second involving the possibility that he met his eventual victim via a couch-surfing website.

As we've reported, a Gambian refugee known as Abdou I is said to have been arrested for the crime; he was taken into custody in Switzerland.

Abdou I had been fighting extradition to Austria in relation to Mann's killing. At first, her cause of death was unclear, but according to the European news source Kurier, authorities are now saying she was "suffocated by force."

Now, however, Abdou I's extradition has gone forward amid speculation that he first came into contact with Mann on Couchsurfing.com.

The site's home page devotes an entire section to "Trust & Safety," and Kurier suggests that Mann's previous experiences with the service had been positive.

The translated article maintains that Mann had "closed in this way many friendships."

The Daily Mail adds that Mann had received three positive reviews in regard to previous visits from others.

At this point, police haven't confirmed the Couchsurfing connection. But it's yet another mysterious element in a tragic story full of them.

Continue for our previous coverage.

Update, 5:49 a.m. March 3: In January, the death by homicide of Lauren Mann, a Colorado native and former CU Boulder student working as a nanny in Vienna, caused an international sensation.

In the aftermath of her half-naked body's discovery, a Gambian refugee was arrested on suspicion of committing the crime.

And an Austrian newspaper, Kronen Zeitung, hints that Mann may have come into contact with the man because of her proclivity for bringing food and blankets to asylum seekers.

One source told the paper that Mann wanted to see "only the good" in people."

As noted below, Mann's Facebook page listed her hometown as Paonia.

She focused on music at CU Boulder before heading to Vienna, where she studied German at the Campus der Universität.

Over the three years or so she spent in Vienna, she also worked as a nanny for the family of Verena Jaschke-Kuen — and when she didn't show up for work one day, authorities were contacted.

She was found in her apartment, laying face down on a mattress, with blood near her head.

After Mann's death was ruled a homicide, investigators turned their attention to a Gambian refugee identified in Kronen Zeitung as Abdou I.

The paper reports that he fled to Italy in 2012 before applying for asylum in Germany — but after he was implicated in crimes such as theft and robbery, he headed to Austria, where he's said to have lived in a boat.

The supposition of police is that Mann came into contact with Abdou I through charitable efforts.

"Lauren had a great heart for the poor," a source is quoted as saying in a translated version of the article. "She often went to train stations and asylum centers, where they distributed food and blankets to the needy."

The source added that Mann knew that Abdou I had been threatened with deportation but was unaware of his criminal past.

Of late, the flow of information about the case has stopped. But from most recent reports, it appears that authorities believe they've found the man who ended Mann's promising life. Look below to see a news report about the arrest, followed by our previous coverage.

Original post, 5:58 a.m. January 28: Lauren Mann, who grew up in the small, western Colorado town of Paonia, is making news across the planet for the worst possible reason.

She was found dead in her apartment in Vienna, where she was working as an au pair, and police have launched a homicide investigation.

Homicides take place in Austria at less than one-fifth the rate they do in the United States — 0.71 per 100,000 there versus 3.82 per 100,000 here, 7News notes.

Add the lurid elements of the crime plus Mann's striking appearance and unusual (for Europe) background and it's no wonder the case is getting so much attention both domestically and overseas. 

In a statement, Mann's family describes the coverage as "sensationalized." Their primary, and understandable, focus: grief over the loss of Lauren, who was just 25 when she died.

Mann's Facebook page cites her hometown of Paonia and German studies at the Campus der Universität in Vienna. Prior to that, she concentrated on music at CU Boulder; she was a gifted pianist.

Her Facebook gallery sports a number of striking portraits, including this one....

...and this one....

....and this one....

During the three years or so she'd spent in Vienna, she supported herself by serving as a nanny for the family of Verena Jaschke-Kuen.

Then, on January 25, Jaschke-Kuen sent this Facebook message:

Lauren didn't show up for work today without any notice and her phone is flat. This has never happened before and therefore we are a bit worried. Did anyone hear from her or see her today? ...and Lauren, please give us call when you see this. Thank you!

When Mann didn't respond, the authorities were contacted the next day — and what they found was startling.

According to The Local, an English language news source in Austria, firemen had to break open the door to gain access to her apartment on Tuesday, January 26.

Inside, Mann was reportedly lying face down on a mattress on the floor.

She is described as being "half-naked."

And while an autopsy showed no external injuries, blood was found near her head.

As such, a toxicology report has been ordered to determine if she was poisoned.

The case immediately grabbed the attention of the news media in Europe.

Images from the scene, including this one....

...began popping up on screens of all type not just in Austria, but beyond.

An example: the following report by Inside Edition.

The frenzy only added to the pain felt by Mann's family. Their statement reads:

We are heartbroken to tell you our daughter and sister Lauren Mann has been found dead in her apartment in Vienna, Austria. An investigation is in progress. It has been released in Austria to the media and is being sensationalized. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

We will. Our sincere condolences to the friends, family and loved ones of Lauren Mann.

Below, see two Colorado-based reports about Mann — the first from 7News, the second from KJCT in Grand Junction, where a reporter was able to speak with a family friend.

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