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Man arrested in connection to missing scholar; Zhang presumed dead

Brendt+Christensen%2C+a+Physics+graduate+student%2C+was+arrested+in+connection+to+Zhang%27s+disappearance.+The+University+postponed+the+campus+wide+ceremony+honoring+Zhang%27s+life.+
Brendt Christensen, a Physics graduate student, was arrested in connection to Zhang's disappearance. The University postponed the campus wide ceremony honoring Zhang's life.

Brendt Christensen, a Physics graduate student, was arrested in connection to Zhang's disappearance. The University postponed the campus wide ceremony honoring Zhang's life.

Brendt Christensen, a Physics graduate student, was arrested in connection to Zhang's disappearance. The University postponed the campus wide ceremony honoring Zhang's life.

By Lillian Barkley, Editor-in-Chief

The FBI has arrested a suspect in the case of Yingying Zhang, a 26-year-old visiting Chinese scholar. Zhang is presumed dead, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.

Brendt Christensen, 28, was taken into custody. On Thursday, law enforcement officials overheard him explain that he kidnapped Zhang.

“Based on this, and other facts uncovered during the investigation of this matter, law enforcement agents believe that Ms. Zhang is no longer alive,” according to the press release.

In evidence collected from Christensen’s phone, he had visited the FetLife forum “Abduction 101,” which included the sub-threads “perfect abduction fantasy” and “planning a kidnapping.”

Christensen was driving a black Saturn Astra caught on video surveillance. Zhang was seen entering the passenger side of the vehicle on June 9 which is her last known sighting.

Christensen is a graduate student in Physics at the University. He will remain in custody until his pending initial federal court appearance on Monday at 10:00 a.m. in Urbana.

Update as of 10:04 p.m.

Chancellor Robert Jones sent a letter of condolence through a University Massmail. Jones called for the campus community to come together in support of Zhang’s family and friends.

“There are no words that can explain why or how such a terrible thing should happen nor is there anything I might say that will ease the grief of any of you who knew her,” he wrote.  “I ask all of you to help to ensure that Yingying is remembered for her kindness, her gentleness and her smile.”

A campus-wide memorial ceremony will be held tomorrow evening to honor Zhang’s life.

Update as of 10:06 a.m.

A Massmail sent out on Saturday morning postponed the campus wide memorial ceremony honoring Zhang’s life.

Out of respect for the Zhang family, who is on campus, and “in accordance with their wishes,” Jones wrote today’s ceremony is cancelled.

“We will plan a public community and campus event celebrating her life in the future, but for now, I simply ask that you keep her family in your thoughts as they face these first days without Yingying,” Jones said.

 

This is an ongoing case and will be updated.

 

An original story reported Christensen was 27. Christensen’s birthday is June 30, so his age was updated accordingly. 

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8 Comments

  • Brian4000

    I am as liberal as they come, but hang this man by his neck until he dies. That poor girl.

  • John wang

    Hope someone will strangle him to death in jail.

  • cuvested

    Retributive justice makes no moral sense. Nor does hatred. Looks like this 28 yr old is a sick and dangerous person who should be removed from society, but not sure how torture and execution helps anyone feel better about this tragedy.

    • Anna Hutton-Page

      Sorry but even the bible clearly states an eye for and eye a life for a life so unless he can bring the girl back he must pay the ultimate price, sorry but that is justice if you don’t like it then we will not be concerned if it happens to you or someone close to you because you would not want to condemn the person who commuted the crime so we would simply slap him or her on the hand and say bad person do not do it again duh!!!!!

      • cuvested

        The bible also says that if your wife is not a virgin on her wedding night, she must be stoned to death on her father’s doorstep. I suppose you are in favor of that punishment as well?

        • Herbagaskara Pramudita Aji

          we should really be differentiating the OT and the NT for the sake of law, besides this kind of thing should work in a secular scope instead of a religious one.

  • Andrew Murphy

    I doubt this guy did it and this woman was probably kidnapped to work in a laboratory than take her knowledge and skills back to China. They will never find a body because she is not dead and what are chances of a highly intelligent important researcher being taken randomly and not just some Motel clerk? They took this woman and her agricultural knowledge so she can work in america and not red China

    • Bill

      Uhhh, what?