Suspect in Illinois kidnap case to make 1st court appearance

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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.

URBANA, Ill. (AP) _ A 28-year-old will make his initial court appearance on a federal charge of kidnapping a visiting University of Illinois scholar from China who authorities believe to be dead.

Brendt Allen Christensen is to appear Monday in a U.S. district court in Urbana, not far from the Urbana-Champaign campus in central Illinois.

The Champaign man is accused of abducting 26-year-old Yingying Zhang on June 9 as she headed to sign a lease for an apartent. Her body hasn’t been found.

Federal judges typically use initial hearings to make sure a suspect understands the charges. Defendants usually enter a plea only later at arraignment.

The criminal complaint says Zhang was running late and tried unsuccessfully to flag down a bus. It says minutes later, she got into a car driven by Christensen.