Grad Student Arrested in Chinese Scholar’s Abduction

A University of Illinois student’s arrest in the abduction of a student from China comes as surprise to the campus.

Authorities arrested and charged an Illinois man on Friday for the alleged abduction of a scholar visiting from China. They believe the woman is now dead, although her body has not been found.

Yingying Zhang, 26, disappeared three weeks ago, shortly after she got off a bus near the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign campus, and police believe Brendt Christensen, 28, abducted her, reports Yahoo News.

Zhang was reported missing by an associate professor on June 9, which was only a few weeks after she arrived on campus to research photosynthesis and crop productivity. She was among a select few admitted to the school’s highly competitive physics graduate program in 2013, reports the Associated Press.

Christensen was also a student at the University of Illinois, as well as a graduate assistant who had earned his master’s in May.

He was under surveillance when agents overheard him saying he had kidnapped the victim. Additionally, the criminal compliant claims Christensen’s cell phone was used to visit the “Abduction 101” online forum.  Some of the threads he allegedly read were titled “Perfect abduction fantasy” and “planning a kidnapping.”

Also, after Zhang exited the bus, she got into a vehicle that resembled the suspect’s car.

The director of the graduate program who knows Christensen says she didn’t notice anything unusual about him.



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About the Author

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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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