The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has arrested a man in connection with the disappearance of a visiting Chinese graduate student last seen on June 9 in the University of Illinois campus, the media reported. FBI investigators think the student, Yingying Zhang, 26, is probably dead, the US attorney’s office for Central Illinois said in a statement on Friday.
Brendt Christensen, 27, of Champaign, Illinois, was charged with kidnapping, a report quoted the statement as saying.
Christensen was under surveillance on Thursday when agents overheard him saying he kidnapped Zhang. He said he took the Chinese student back to his apartment.
“Based on this, and other facts uncovered during the investigation of this matter, law enforcement agents believe that Zhang is no longer alive,” the statement said, without offering further details.
The FBI says Christensen was driving the black Saturn Astra that was captured on security camera video picking up Zhang the afternoon of June 9.
She was seen entering the front passenger side of the vehicle, which then drove away.
On June 15, Christensen admitted picking up Zhang but he told the FBI that he let her out just a few blocks away, reports said.
Zhang had a year-long position at the university’s department of natural resources and environmental sciences. She graduated from Beijing’s Peking University last year with a master’s degree in environmental engineering.
Christensen’s first court appearance is on July 3.