A former graduate student charged with kidnapping a Chinese scholar in Illinois had previously visited a website with an “Abduction 101” forum, federal authorities said.
Brendt Allen Christensen, 28, is accused of abducting Yingying Zhang, 26, a visiting researcher from China.
Christensen, who earned a master’s degree this year at the University of Illinois, used his cell phone to visit sites titled “perfect abduction fantasy” and “planning a kidnapping,” according to a federal criminal complaint.
The man made his first court appearance Monday and said nothing except to acknowledge he understood the charge against him. Authorities believe the woman is dead, but her body has not been found.
Christensen allegedly kidnapped Zhang as she tried to hail a bus in Urbana, the complaint said. She was on her way to sign a lease on a new apartment.
Surveillance video showed her getting into a Saturn Astra, which investigators tracked to Christensen, authorities said.
He was arrested Friday by federal authorities, who had him under surveillance and heard him talking about kidnapping the woman and bringing her to his apartment, the complaint says.
On Thursday — the day before his arrest — Christenson was pictured at a rally on campus for the missing woman, standing close to Yingying’s family and friends, CNN reported.
She was researching photosynthesis and crop productivity at the University of Illinois, officials said.
She was the daughter of a working-class factory driver who hoped her research would financially help her family, campus authorities said.
Christensen has not entered a plea. He was denied bail Monday pending a bond hearing on Wednesday.