The Latest: Professor saw no signs of trouble with suspect

The Latest on the disappearance of a missing University of Illinois scholar from China: (all times local):

2:30 p.m.

A University of Illinois physics professor and graduate student adviser says he saw no signs that a 28-year-old former student charged with kidnapping a visiting Chinese scholar was acting unusually.

Professor Lance Cooper said Saturday that Brendt Christensen was accepted into the highly competitive physics program in 2013. The Champaign, Illinois, man intended to get his Ph.D., but told Cooper in 2016 he’d decided not to do so. He continued teaching as a graduate assistant and earned his master’s degree in mid-May.

Christensen was charged Friday with kidnapping 26-year-old Yingying Zhang. She disappeared on June 9. Authorities say they believe she is dead, though her body hasn’t been found.

Cooper says there are many ways he would have been notified if Christensen was acting differently or having problems. He says “None of those flags were raised.”

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12:10 p.m.

A 28-year-old man held in the kidnapping of a visiting scholar from China earned a master’s degree in physics from the University in Illinois in May and was no longer enrolled.

Spokeswoman Robin Kaler says Brendt Christensen’s “affiliation with the department” ended in May, though she did not explain why.

Christensen was charged Friday with kidnapping 26-year-old Yingying Zhang, who went missing June 9. Authorities now believe Zhang is dead, though they say her body has not been found.

Christensen, of Champaign, Illinois, is in federal custody pending a court appearance scheduled for Monday.

His LinkedIn profile states he is a PhD candidate in physics at the University of Illinois campus in central Illinois and has been a graduate teaching assistant at the university since 2013.

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10:30 a.m.

The man charged with kidnapping a Chinese scholar who authorities now believe to be dead is a graduate student in physics at the University of Illinois.

Twenty-eight-year-old Brendt Allen Christensen of Champaign, Illinois, was charged Friday and is in federal custody pending a Monday court appearance.

University spokeswoman Robin Kaler said Saturday she couldn’t immediately confirm Christensen is enrolled at the university.

But his LinkedIn profile states he is a PhD candidate in physics and has been a graduate teaching assistant since 2013, and his name appears on the physics department website. Christensen’s LinkedIn profile also states he graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2013.

Twenty-six-year-old Yingying Zhang disappeared June 9, weeks after she arrived at the University of Illinois campus from China to do research in agricultural sciences. Her body has not been found.

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1:50 a.m.

An Illinois man will remain in custody pending his initial federal court appearance on a charge alleging he kidnapped a visiting University of Illinois scholar from China who authorities believe to be dead.

Twenty-eight-year-old Brendt Christensen of Champaign is scheduled to appear in court Monday in Urbana.

Yingying Zhang, the 26-year-old daughter of a working-class factory driver from China, disappeared on June 9, just weeks after arriving at the Urbana-Champaign campus in central Illinois where was doing research in agricultural sciences. She was expected to begin work on her doctorate in the fall.

Zhang’s disappearance fed anxieties of families of Chinese students studying in the U.S.

Authorities declined comment when asked if they had any leads on where Zhang’s body might be located.

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