Christensen indicted by grand jury for kidnapping


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Brendt Christensen. Yingying Zhang’s alleged kidnapper, appeared in court for a second time on Wednesday. He was denied bail due to being both a flight risk and potential threat to the community.

By Daily Illini Staff Report

A federal grand jury has indicted Brendt Christensen for the kidnapping of visiting Chinese scholar Yingying Zhang, who went missing from campus June 9.

On Wednesday, the U.S. attorney’s office charged Christensen. The indictment stated he “willfully and unlawfully seized, confined, inveigled, decoyed, kidnapped, abducted, and carried away” Zhang.

Christensen could face up to life in prison if convicted of the kidnapping.

He is currently detained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. The arraignment for Christensen will be scheduled by the U.S. Clerk of the Court in Urbana. The preliminary hearing that had been scheduled on July 14 has been cancelled in light of the grand jury’s indictment.

Christensen was denied bail by U.S. Magistrate Judge Eric Long during a hearing on July 5. Prosecutor Bryan Freres stated at the time of denial that Christensen is a flight risk and a potential threat to the community.

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While attending a community walk and concert for Zhang at the Krannert Center for Performing Arts, Christensen was caught on audio allegedly describing his “ideal victim,” Freres said. Christensen then picked out individuals in the crowd who fit those characteristics.

He also allegedly explained that Zhang put up a fight after he kidnapped her, despite Christensen initially telling police that he dropped off Zhang shortly after picking her up. Freres said Christensen also threatened the safety of an unidentified person to whom Christensen told compromising information.

Zhang’s body has still not been found. Law enforcement stated in the complaint affidavit they believe Zhang is deceased based on facts presented in court and court documents, and other facts uncovered during the ongoing investigation. Though the FBI presumes her to be dead, the FBI, UIPD and Illinois State Police continue working on the case, as the investigation is ongoing.

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