Brendt Christensen, a former Ph.D. pupil researcher from Champaign, murdered Yingying Zhang, who disappeared when she was attending the College of Illinois as a visiting scholar, in line with his lawyer.
Christensen’s lawyer made the beautiful admission throughout opening statements in Christensen’s trial. “Brendt Christensen is accountable for the dying of Yingying Zhang,” federal defender George Taseff stated, in line with WTTF-TV. “Brendt Christensen killed Yingying Zhang.”
Authorities way back stated in an affidavit that they imagine Zhang is useless; nonetheless, as a result of they didn’t discover her physique, Christensen was charged with kidnapping leading to dying and mendacity to FBI investigators. The affidavit gave very disturbing particulars, together with that authorities alleged that they had proof that Christensen accessed an internet site entitled “Abduction 101” and sub-threads known as “excellent abduction fantasy” and “planning a kidnapping.” He had additionally labored as a Physics class educating assistant.
It was additionally revealed that Christensen was photographed attending a rally for the sufferer.
Right here’s what you want to know:
Christensen In contrast Himself to Ted Bundy, Prosecutors Say
For his or her half, prosecutors painted a really chilling image of Brendt Christensen because the trial opened, alleging he in contrast himself to infamous serial killer Ted Bundy and that he raped and decapitated Zhang.
Prosecutor Eugene Miller alleged that Zhang’s blood was discovered on a bat that Christensen used to strike Zhang, in addition to in different places in his residence, in line with WTTW-TV. He’s additionally accused of stabbing and choking her.
CNN reported that the protection lawyer’s admission might point out a technique of specializing in avoiding the dying penalty for Christensen; he stated Christensen had been left by his spouse, and was combating psychological well being and substance abuse, CNN reported. In accordance with Fox Information, the prosecutor alleged that Christensen bragged on a wiretap that he killed 12 different folks, however this has not been verified. In accordance with Fox, the protection lawyer stated Christensen made that comment whereas drunk.
In accordance with the Chicago Tribune, prosecutors allege that Christensen pretended he was an undercover police officer to get Zhang into his automotive.
The scholar was supposed to take a look at an residence to lease and by no means confirmed up. Video confirmed her at an Urbana, Illinois bus cease getting right into a black Saturn car, and, after that, she vanished with out a hint. Her disappearance was massive information in China in addition to america because the Urbana-Champaign group gathered collectively to attempt to discover Zhang, a promising younger environmental engineer who was researching crop manufacturing.
Zhang was remembered as clever and extroverted. “She performed guitar and sang in a band known as ‘Cute Horse’ in China. Certainly one of her favourite songs was ‘The Rose,’ successful in 1980 for American singer Bette Midler,” reported The Chicago Tribune.
Authorities Accuse Christensen of Visiting an ‘Abduction 101’ Fetish Web site Thread
It’s clear from the affidavit that authorities thought that they had their man, however they wanted extra proof to hunt an arrest, particularly as a result of they didn’t know the place Zhang’s physique was. The FBI positioned Christensen underneath surveillance and monitored his conversations. That recording supplied them with the important thing piece of proof outlined within the affidavit.
A prosecutor instructed the courtroom beforehand that Christensen was recorded at a rally for Zhang by authorities and “defined the traits of his ultimate sufferer” and, in line with CNN, “identified these within the crowd who matched them at a vigil he attended for the lacking lady.” In a single recording, Christensen is accused of claiming that “Zhang fought him, and that he took her again to his residence and held her there towards her will final month,” CNN reported.
On June 29, 2017, “whereas Christensen was underneath legislation enforcement surveillance, brokers overheard him explaining that he kidnapped Zhang. Based mostly on this, and different details uncovered in the course of the investigation of this matter, legislation enforcement brokers imagine that Ms. Zhang is now not alive,” the affidavit contends.
The affidavit alleges that Christensen’s cellphone accessed the kidnapping threads on a web site known as FetLife. FetLife’s house web page reads, “FetLife is the Social Community for the BDSM, Fetish & Kinky Group. Like Fb, however run by kinksters such as you and me. We expect it’s extra enjoyable that method. Don’t you?”
Authorities declare his cell phone was used to entry a thread entitled “Abduction 101.”
The thread has greater than 3,000 members. The opposite thread authorities accuse Christensen of visiting is entitled “planning a kidnapping” and comprises a publish from another person that reads, “I’m a fortunate sub. I even have a buddy who’s going to kidnap me. She additionally has Three helpers. The catch is we’ve by no means achieved this earlier than. Options ideas and concepts for the precise abduction are most welcome. We’d like assist lol.”
On Fb, Christensen, who was recognized to decorate in black, had appreciated the ebook American Psycho and confirmed an curiosity in gaming and anime.
Authorities narrowed their search right down to 18 four-door Saturn Astra autos registered in Champaign County and interviewed the house owners. On June 12, they went to the 2500 block of W. Springfield Ave. in Champaign and noticed the automotive registered to Christensen. Authorities interviewed Christensen who allegedly instructed authorities that, between 2 and three p.m. on June 9, the day that Zhang disappeared, he “couldn’t initially recall his whereabouts. He later suggested, nonetheless, he will need to have been both sleeping or he was enjoying video video games at his residence all day.” He admitted the automotive belonged to him, the affidavit stated.
Later, within the different interview, authorities extracted an admission from Christensen that Zhang had been in his automotive, prompting the surveillance, in line with the affidavit.
In accordance with his LinkedIn web page, Christensen was a Ph.D. Pupil Researcher on the College of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and he has labored there for Three years and seven months. That’s the identical college the place Zhang was a visiting scholar.
Christensen wrote on LinkedIn: “I’m a Ph.D. candidate in experimental condensed matter physics on the College of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At present, I fabricate nanoscale-level gadgets and carry out electrical measurements on them with a view to uncover new issues about mesoscopic physics. These measurements are achieved with a wide range of gadgets; most notably probe stations and cryogenic methods. Alongside the way in which, I make the most of an assortment of packages and abilities, corresponding to Python, LabVIEW, electron-beam lithography, atomic drive microscopy, and rather more.”
Zhang was a world scholar who centered her analysis within the areas of photosynthesis and crop productiveness. She had solely arrived on the College of Illinois in April 2017. In accordance with CNN, Zhang “had a year-long place on the college’s division of nature assets and environmental sciences.”
She graduated from “Beijing’s prestigious Peking College final yr with a grasp’s diploma in environmental engineering,” CNN reported.