Published: Fri, July 14, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Man, 28, indicted in kidnap case

Man, 28, indicted in kidnap case

A federal grand jury indicted Brendt Christensen on one count of kidnapping in connection with the disappearance of Yingying Zhang, a University of IL student from China, the media reported.

According to an affidavit previously filed with the court, the vehicle allegedly driven by Christensen had stopped next to Zhang at an intersection, and then pulled away.

Zhang disappeared on June 9 while on her way to sign an apartment lease.

Zhang, 26, was last seen getting into Christensen's vehicle at a bus stop on June 9, the complaint says, citing video evidence. And the date for Christensen's arraignment will be scheduled by the U.S. Clerk of the Court in Urbana, where the UIUC is located.

Christensen remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service at the Macon County Jail, pending trial.

As a result of Wednesday's indictment, a preliminary hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Eric Long of the U.S. District Court in Urbana scheduled for Friday was canceled, the U.S. attorney's office said. After Christensen's June 30 arrest, investigators said they believe Zhang is dead but hadn't found her body.

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Zhang went missing in the United States in June.

The family's Chicago lawyer, Wang Zhidong, also told China Central Television that the family visited Salem on July 6 to search for Zhang themselves.

If Christensen, 28, is convicted of kidnapping, he could face up to life in prison.

US law enforcement investigating Zhang's case believe Zhang is deceased, based on facts presented in court and court documents and other facts uncovered during the ongoing investigation. "This determination is based on facts presented in court and court documents, and other facts uncovered during the ongoing investigation".

The FBI initially investigated the disappearance of the 26 year old, a scholar visiting the University of IL, as a suspected kidnapping.

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