Man charged with kidnapping Chinese scholar

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The Latest on the Illinois disappearance of a Chinese scholar (all times local):

9 p.m.

Authorities say a man has been charged in Illinois with kidnapping a visiting Chinese scholar who was last seen three weeks ago.

Federal authorities say a criminal complaint charges 27-year-old Brendt Christensen of Champaign, Illinois, with kidnapping Yingying Zhang on June 9, 2017.

In its court filing in U.S. District Court in Springfield, the FBI alleges Christensen was driving the black car observed on security camera video as it stopped next to Zhang at a corner near the University of Illinois.

Zhang is observed on video entering the front passenger side of the vehicle.

The affidavit filed in support of the complaint says Christensen was under surveillance Thursday when agents overheard him explaining that he kidnapped Zhang. Authorities say based on this and other facts uncovered during the investigation, agents believe Zhang is no longer alive.


10 a.m.

Hundreds of people gathered at the University of Illinois to show support for a Chinese scholar who disappeared three weeks ago.

Students and other community members participated in events Thursday night at the Urbana-Champaign campus, including a walk and concert.

Twenty-six-year-old Yingying Zhang was last seen the afternoon of June 9 getting into a black car. The FBI announced this week that the car had been found, but it provided no detail.

Zhang's father, Ronggao Zhang, carried a banner during the walk.

The Chinese Students and Scholars Association as among the events' organizers. Some 5,600 Chinese are enrolled at the University of Illinois. Yingying Zhang had been conducting research in the agricultural sciences.