Graduate student arrested in University of Illinois scholar’s disappearance, FBI presumes her dead

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CHAMPAIGN, Illinois-- An Illinois man has been arrested in connection with the disappearance of a University of Illinois graduate student, last seen June 9th.

The FBI has arrested Brendt Christensen, 28, and charged him with kidnapping student Yingying Zhang, 26. Zhang had been missing since June 9th, but investigators now say, they don't believe she is alive.

RELATED: Search for missing U of I student now considered a "national priority" by FBI

Christensen was under surveillance Thursday when agents overheard him saying he kidnapped Zhang, according to a police affidavit.

Christensen said he took Zhang back to his apartment. That's where FBI agents arrested him.

The court document also says a search of the suspect's car, the black Saturn Astra seen in surveillance video, revealed the front passenger door, next to where Zhang would've been sitting, was cleaned to a "more diligent extent."

Also in the criminal complaint: the allegation that Christensen had used his phone back in April to visit threads on a fetish website, with titles like "Abduction 101," "Perfect Abduction Fantasy," and "Planning a Kidnapping."

He is due in Federal court at 10 a.m. in Urbana, Illinois Monday, July 3rd.

RELATED: Zhang's family waiting for more "good news," after black car is found

There are more than 300,000 Chinese students attending schools in the U.S., and Zhang's disappearance and now suspected death, has triggered widespread concern in China.

Some 6,000 Chinese students are enrolled at the University of Illinois alone, the most of any college in the U.S.

Zhang had a year-long position at the University of Illinois' Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences. She is originally from Nanping, a small city in the Fujian province in southeast China. A University spokeswoman said Zhang had planned to enroll in a doctoral program at the U of I.

Her family is not yet commenting on these new findings.

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