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Illinois man charged with kidnapping, death of Chinese scholar

From Reuters - October 11, 2017

CHICAGO (Reuters) - An Illinois man accused of abducting a Chinese visiting scholarat the University of Illinois faces a new charge of kidnapping resulting in death and was arraigned on Wednesday.

Yingying Zhang, a 26-year-old visiting scholar from southeastern China at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, disappeared on June 9. Officials believe Zhang is dead, although no body has been found.

Brendt Christensen, a former masters student at the university, faces one count of kidnapping resulting in death and two counts of making a false statement to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to an Oct. 3 indictment, which alleged the crime involved torture or serious physical abuse to the victim.

Christensen pleaded not guilty to all charges, the U.S. district clerks office in Urbana, Illinois said on Wednesday. A lawyer for Christensen declined comment.

Previously Christensen, 28, was charged with one count of kidnapping and pleaded not guilty in July.

Zhang, who had been studying photosynthesis and crop productivity at the university, was last seen when a security camera recorded her getting into a black car that authorities linked to Christensen, according to court documents.

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