Bond denied for suspect in kidnapping of Chinese scholar

China 24

People line up outside the federal courthouse for first appearance of Brendt Christensen, the suspect in the kidnapping of Yingying Zhang, a Chinese scholar at the University of Illinois, Monday, July 3, 2017 in Urbana, Ill, During the nine-minute hearing, Christensen did not speak other than to acknowledge to the federal judge that he understood his rights. U.S. Magistrate Eric Long ordered Christensen held without bond. (Robin Scholz/The News-Gazette via AP)

A U.S. judge has denied bond for a man accused of kidnapping a visiting scholar from China. Authorities believe the man also killed Zhang Yingying.

CGTN’s Sean Callebs has more from Urbana, Illinois where she vanished last month — and has yet to be found.

In court, Deputy U.S. Attorney Bryan Freres said the suspect Brendt Christensen is a threat to flee the area, and he remains a danger to the community.

The prosecutor said that during last week’s public vigil, the FBI recorded Christensen talking to someone as he “explained characteristics” of his ideal kidnapping target.

Looking at the crowd during the march, he actually pointed out people who “fit the description”
Lastly, the government says audio later shows 28-year-old Christensen took Yingying back to his apartment where she “fought and resisted.”

For the demonstrators – it was chilling new information.

“I am kind of just speechless right now, that’s really horrible,” said Katherine Francois, a demonstrator.

Defense attorneys said they are not surprised the federal judge denied the request for Christensen to go free pending trial. Earlier, they urged the community to “keep an open mind.”

Zhang’s father, aunt and boyfriend have been in the U.S. now nearly three weeks.

In court, the family has showed little emotion, staring intently at the suspect.

Wang Zhidong is a Chicago attorney, explaining the proceedings to the family. He was finally able to relay some news the father wanted to hear.

“When I told him the judge ruled that the defendant is going to be held during trial, until trial, he showed some sort of relieved sigh.”

A composite sketch circulated after Yingying was kidnapped.

Turns out it was done by Lin Yuhui – a well-known police sketch artist thousands of miles away in China’s Shandong province.

To the surprise of Illinois authorities, Lin was able to create the drawing after spending days going over the one piece of evidence — the surveillance video.

“When they saw that, their reaction was immediately, “Who did this? What sources did they have?”