Man Charged With Kidnapping Chinese Scholar Authorities Believe is Dead

The FBI believes Zhang to be dead, according to the News-Gazette.

A criminal complaint accuses Christensen, of Champaign, Illinois, of abducting Zhang shortly after she stepped off a bus near the university campus.

A criminal complaint says Federal Bureau of Investigation agents overheard Christensen explaining that he kidnapped Zhang while he was under surveillance, according to an Federal Bureau of Investigation press release.

26-year-old Yingying Zhang was last seen on at the University of IL on Friday 9 June.

She was last seen alive on footage from security cameras getting into the passenger seat of a black Saturn Astra hatchback in Urbana, police said earlier.

Christensen also allegedly used his phone in April to visit online forums with titles including "Abduction 101", "Perfect abduction fantasy," and "planning a kidnapping".

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A man has been charged with kidnapping a visiting University of IL scholar from China who authorities believe to be dead after she disappeared three weeks ago. IL students and others from the wider community are gathering at the Urbana-Champaign campus to show support for the Chinese scholar who disappeared three weeks ago. Christensen was overhead by agents saying that he had kidnapped Zhang.

This undated photo provided by the University of Illinois Police Department shows Yingying Zhang.

When the investigators later were pouring over the CCTV footage, they tried to determine how closely the vehicle in the footage matched the one owned by Christensen. 27-year-old Brendt Christensen is charged with the crime.

Hundreds of people gathered at the University of IL to show support for a Chinese scholar who disappeared three weeks ago. One belonging to Christensen was first seen in an apartment complex parking lot June 12 - days after Zhang went missing - and investigators questioned him. Court records indicate that investigators who searched Christensen's Saturn said it looked like the front passenger seat, where it is believed Zhang was sitting when she got into the auto, "had been cleaned".

He claimed that after he made a wrong turn, the woman panicked, and he let her out of his vehicle. Zhang was about a month into a yearlong appointment at the University of Illinois' Urbana-Champaign when she disappeared June 9, 2017.

  • Sonia Alvarado