Man Charged With Kidnapping Chinese Scholar Authorities Believe Is Dead

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A man charged Friday with the kidnapping of a visiting Chinese scholar at the University of IL allegedly researched the "perfect abduction" before the crime, the Federal Bureau of Investigation says.

Brendt Christensen, 28, of Champaign, Illinois, has been charged in a federal criminal complaint with abducting Yingying Zhang, who vanished shortly after she stepped off a transit bus near the University of Illinois campus in July.

"Based on this, and other facts uncovered during the investigation of this matter, law enforcement agents believe that Ms. Zhang is no longer alive", the statement from the USA attorney's office and FBI said.

A search of Christensen's phone showed he'd visited the site in April, FBI agents say.

Zhang, originally was from Nanping, a small city in the Fujian province in southeast China, was considering entering a doctoral program at U. of I, university spokeswoman Robin Kaler said. On June 9, Zhang disappeared, only a few weeks after she had arrived in IL, to pursue studies in agricultural and environmental sciences.

Asked Friday night if authorities had any leads on where Zhang's body might be located, the spokesman for the FBI Springfield office, Bradley Ware, declined comment. Christensen was overhead by agents saying that he had kidnapped Zhang.

He added that University of IL would support Zhang's family "in any way we can in these hard days ahead". He said that while trying to navigate using her cellphone map, Christensen told her that he thought he had taken a wrong turn and that Zhang "panicked".

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He would not say if police were probing Williams or whether the family would be looking for compensation. Barson being hospitalized 14 days with multiple surgeries which resulted in his death".

David Meldgin, a teaching assistant in the physics department, said he had an office next door to Christensen for two years, but they spoke only a few times.

The auto pulled over to where Zhang was standing, and she was observed on surveillance video speaking with the driver for about a minute.

There are more Chinese students enrolled at the University of IL, approximately 5,000, than at any other college in the United States.

Investigators had also placed Christensen under surveillance after they interviewed him in mid-June, according to court documents. Zhang had a position at the University of IL that would last for a year, "at the university's department of natural resources and environmental sciences". But they say he was nice and a helpful T.A. and U of I faculty who knew him say the same thing.

Christensen's first court appearance is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday in a federal court in Urbana, CNN reported.

The recent disappearance of a visiting Chinese scholar who had arrived in the United States just weeks earlier has concerns across China about the safety of studying in the U.S.

Zhang already had a master's degree in environmental engineering from Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School, one of the most prestigious universities in China.

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