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Federal Bureau of Investigation arrest suspect in case of missing Chinese scholar

Federal Bureau of Investigation arrest suspect in case of missing Chinese scholar

Zhang is presumed dead, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.

Federal authorities say a criminal complaint charges 28-year-old Brendt Christensen of Champaign, Illinois, with kidnapping Yingying Zhang on June 9.

The 28-year-old IL man charged with kidnapping a Chinese scholar now believed to be dead was among a select few admitted to the University of Illinois' highly competitive physics graduate program in 2013. An affidavit alleges Christensen was driving the black Saturn Astra that Zhang was seen on video entering the day of her disappearance.

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

The FBI, while monitoring Christensen, hears him "explaining how he kidnapped" Zhang, according to the affidavit.

Christensen's first court appearance will be on Monday, July 3, in a federal court in Urbana, Illinois.

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When the investigators interviewed Christensen a second time, and pointed out the two cars looked identical, the suspect admitted he had driven around the University of IL campus on June 9 and had given a ride to an Asian female who told him "she was late for an appointment".

"This is a senseless and devastating loss of a promising young woman and a member of our community", Jones said. Law enforcement agents believe she is no longer alive.

Cooper said he didn't think Christensen would have had any academic interactions with Zhang, who came to the United States within the past two months.

Investigators later determined the auto in the video had a sunroof and cracked hubcap, like Christensen's vehicle, the affidavit states.

Christensen was placed under continuous surveillance June 16. Zhang has been researching crop photosynthesis and was expected to begin work on her Ph.D.in the fall at the University of IL, according to the school.

He claimed that after he made a wrong turn, the woman panicked, and he let her out of his vehicle. She was working in the department of natural resources and environmental sciences.

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