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FBI investigating accused killer Brendt Christensen’s claims of additional victims

Brendt Christensen.

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) – An FBI agent says law enforcement continues to investigate claims of additional victims made by a former University of Illinois doctoral student on trial for the slaying of a visiting scholar from China.

The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports FBI agent Andrew Huckstradt testified Monday morning at the federal murder trial of Brendt Christensen that the FBI can’t corroborate the claim jurors heard Christensen make in a recording played last week but that “we’re continuing to investigate.”

Prosecutors say Christensen bragged about such claims in a conversation that his girlfriend secretly recorded.

Christensen is charged with first-degree murder in the 2017 slaying of Yingying Zhang. Prosecutors contend Christensen kidnapped the 26-year-old Zhang, beat her to death with a baseball bat and decapitated her. Her body has never been found.

Defense attorneys opened the trial last week with the acknowledgment, in an attempt to spare Christensen the death penalty, that their client had killed Zhang.

Also on Monday, an FBI forensic examiner testified that browsing history on Christensen’s cell phone and that no relevant location data was recovered from it.

FBI Senior Forensic Examiner William O’Sullivan also testified that Christensen visited a social media site for adults with alternative sexual interests, reading several posts about kidnapping and rape fantasies. Jurors also learned how Christensen, who prosecutors say stabbed and decapitated Zhang, also went online to watch videos about knife sharpening.

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