Man held in Chinese scholar’s kidnapping was recent grad

Brendt Christensen, 28, of Champaign is the subject of a federal complaint Friday, June 30, 2017, accusing him of kidnapping in the June 9 disappearance of visiting University of Illinois scholar Yingying Zhang.

CHICAGO  – A 28-year-old man held in the kidnapping of a visiting scholar from China earned a master’s degree in physics from the University in Illinois in May and was no longer enrolled.

Spokeswoman Robin Kaler says Brendt Christensen’s “affiliation with the department” ended in May, though she did not explain why.

Christensen was charged Friday with kidnapping 26-year-old Yingying Zhang, who went missing June 9. Authorities now believe Zhang is dead, though they say her body has not been found.

Christensen, of Champaign, Illinois, is in federal custody pending a court appearance scheduled for Monday.

His LinkedIn profile states he is a PhD candidate in physics at the University of Illinois campus in central Illinois and has been a graduate teaching assistant at the university since 2013.