Grand jury indicts Brendt Christensen for alleged kidnapping

World Today

Photo of Brendt Christensen from his personal Facebook page. (Source: NBC via WAND-TV in Decatur, Illinois. An FBI official has confirmed to WAND-TV that this photo is of Christensen.)

A federal grand jury has indicted Brendt A. Christensen for allegedly kidnapping Chinese scholar Yingying Zhang on June 9. 2017.

An indictment means that the grand jury determined there is enough evidence against Christensen to proceed with a trial.

Christensen was arrested and charged by the FBI on June 30th, and a judge has ordered him to remain in custody pending trial.

More about the Yingying Zhang kidnapping:

A press release from the Department of Justice about the indictment states that Christensen allegedly kidnapped and held Zhang on June 9th and used his mobile phone and vehicle as instruments of interstate commerce to help him commit the offense. The FBI has jurisdiction over interstate commerce.

The press release said that Zhang sent a message from her cell phone to a manager of an apartment complex at 1:39 p.m. saying she was running late and would arrive at 2:10 p.m.

Video footage shows her entering the passenger side of a vehicle allegedly driven by Christensen at 2 p.m.

The apartment manager responded to her text at 2:38 p.m. but did not receive a response.

Later that day at 9:24 p.m. a University of Illinois professor reported to University police that multiple people had tried to reach Zhang by phone but did not receive a response.

Authorities believe Zhang is dead but they have not found her body. If Christensen is convicted, he faces up to life in prison.

The press release also said that an indictment is “merely an accusation” and that the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

Story by Lisa Chiu with information from the Department of Justice.