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Suspect Arrested In University Of Illinois Scholar Kidnapping.

A 28-year-old man named Brendt Christensen was arrested Friday by the FBI and has been charged with the kidnapping of a visiting Chinese scholar, Yingying Zhang, 26, at the University of Illinois, according to the U.S. attorney's office for Central Illinois. The FBI authorities believe that Zhang is probably dead; however, they have not confirmed the news yet.

Zhang went missing three weeks ago on June 9 and was last seen getting into a black Saturn Astra. She went missing just weeks following her arrival at the university's Urbana-Champaign campus from China in order to pursue a course in agriculture sciences.

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A(http://police.illinois.edu/dpsapp/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/christensen-complnt.pdf) criminal complaint against Christensen filed in federal court on Friday claimed that a voice recording was found where the man could be heard saying how he kidnapped Zhang and kept her against her will. He was under surveillance Thursday after the recording was found and the FBI also found that he owned a car exactly like the one Zhang was last seen boarding. "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 U.S. attorney's office and FBI said, referring to the recording and the other details discovered about Christensen.

Authorities also got hold of Christensen's cell phone and found that he had visited threads titled "Abduction 101," "perfect abduction fantasy" and "planning a kidnapping" on a fetish website called FetLife, according to the affidavit in the criminal complaint.

The criminal complaint alleged that Christensen had picked Zhang up from the campus and brought her back to his apartment and held her against her will. However, Christensen admitted that he picked her up on June 15 but told an FBI agent that he had dropped her off a few blocks away after she panicked.

The University of Illinois Chancellor Robert Jones said in a statement: "The entire campus community is saddened by this news and our hearts are with the family of Yingying Zhang tonight. This is a senseless and devastating loss of a promising young woman and a member of our community. There is nothing we can do to ease the sadness or grief for her family and friends, but we can and we will come together to support them in any way we can in these difficult days ahead," according to the (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-missing-illinois-student-charges-20170630-story.html) Chicago Tribune.

Christensen is a PhD Student Researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the same university where Zhang was a visiting scholar, (https://www.linkedin.com/in/brendt-christensen-0007207a/) according to his LinkedIn page.

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Christensen wrote on LinkedIn: "I am a PhD candidate in experimental condensed matter physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Currently, I fabricate nanoscale-level devices and perform electrical measurements on them in order to discover new things about mesoscopic physics. These measurements are done with a variety of devices; most notably probe stations and cryogenic systems. Along the way, I utilize an assortment of programs and skills, such as Python, LabVIEW, electron-beam lithography, atomic force microscopy, and much more."

Christensen's LinkedIn page also mentioned that the 28-year-old had previously completed his graduation from UW-Madison in Geneva, Switzerland in 2013 with a degree in Physics. He also served as a research assistant at UW-Madison for a year in 2012, where he "worked for Matthew Herndon analyzing data created at the CMS Experiment in the Large Hadron Collider," his LinkedIn account reads.

Christensen's first court appearance is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday in a federal court in Urbana, (http://edition.cnn.com/2017/06/30/us/chinese-scholar-disappearance-kidnapping/index.html) CNN reported.
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Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Geographic Code:1U3IL
Date:Jul 1, 2017
Words:665
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