FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- A Northern Arizona University (NAU) anthropology professor who was kidnapped by armed men Friday while visiting her mother in the violent Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez is safe and with family members, the Arizona Republic reported Sunday.

Veronica Perez Rodriguez, 35, was "intercepted by armed men and deprived of her liberty" after leaving her mother's home, a source at the Chihuahua state prosecutor's office told AFP.

NAU officials said Rodriguez had fallen victim to an "express kidnapping," which is described by a Bureau of Consular Affairs website as an attempt "to get quick cash in exchange for the release of an individual."

However, Perez later emailed NAU colleagues after the kidnapping, telling them she was safe and with family, the Republic said.

Perez attended elementary, junior high, and high school in Ciudad Juarez, according to her resume, posted on the university's website. She is fluent in Spanish and English.

On her university web page, she describes herself as an ecological and environmental anthropologist and archeologist.

"My primary focus is the study of social complexity, urbanism, and its environmental impact in the Mixteca Alta region of Oaxaca, Mexico," she wrote.

Perez earned two degrees from the University of Texas at El Paso and a doctorate in 2003 from the University of Georgia, according to her resume.

At least 39 US citizens were killed in 2010 in Ciudad Juarez, which is home to 1.3 million people. It is Mexico's most violent city, according to a report by state prosecutors.