U of I

Jim Meadows/Illinois Public Media

Brendt Christensen entered a “not guilty” plea Thursday in a federal courtroom in Urbana to the charge of kidnapping a visiting scholar from China. The hearing lasted less than five minutes.

Prosecutors accuse Christensen, a recent University of Illinois graduate student, of abducting Yingying Zhang from a campus bus stop June 9.

U Of I Could Host New Bioenergy Research Center

Jul 18, 2017
Jim Meadows/Illinois Public Media

If Congress approves, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will host a $104 million center for research into new biofuels and bioproducts.

The U.S. Department of Energy is awarding the money over the next five years to help create the university’s new Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation --- CABBI for short.

Plant Biology Professor Evan DeLucia, who will be CABBI’s director, says the Energy Department was attracted to U of I because of the bioenergy work it’s already doing.

Photo Provided by University of Illinois Police

The family of missing Chinese scholar Yingying Zhang has increased the amount of reward money for information about her location to $50,000.

By the time authorities arrested a suspect for her kidnapping, they had come to believe that the visiting scholar at the University of Illinois was dead.

But her family and boyfriend have not given up hope that she is still alive. At a news conference, Xiaolin Hou spoke of his girlfriend in the present tense.

The defense attorney for a man accused of kidnapping a University of Illinois scholar from China says his client deserves the "presumption of innocence."

Tom Bruno represents 28-year-old Brendt Christensen, who is accused of kidnapping 26-year-old Yingying Zhang and is jailed pending trial. Authorities believe she's dead, although her body hasn't been found. Christensen was arrested Friday.

Bruno said Thursday that he doesn't think "a negative inference" can be made from prosecutors' statements that Christensen marched in a vigil for Zhang a day before he was arrested.

Photo Provided by University of Illinois Police

The FBI says it has arrested a Champaign man in the disappearance of a visiting University of Illinois scholar. It also says it believes the Chinese scholar, 26-year-old Yingying Zhang, is dead.

The FBI it arrested 27-year-old Brendt Christensen on Friday.

The criminal complaint provided by the FBI says Christensen is charged with kidnapping. He will make his first appearance in federal court on Monday.

The FBI did not say why it believes Zhang is dead, only that information discovered during the search led agents to that conclusion.

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