Illinois man set for trial in missing Chinese scholar case

Brendt Christensen
Courtesy: Macon County Sheriff’s Office

CHICAGO (AP) — A former University of Illinois graduate student is set to stand trial in the 2017 disappearance and suspected killing of a visiting scholar from China whose body hasn’t been found.

Jury selection starts Monday in Peoria for the federal trial of 29-year-old Brendt Christensen, who could get the death penalty if he’s convicted.

Prosecutors allege that Christensen abducted, tortured and killed 26-year-old Yingying Zhang, who was studying at the university’s flagship campus in Champaign. Her family has flown in from China for the trial.

Authorities say Zhang was running late for an appointment the day she disappeared and allege that Christensen tricked or forced her to get into his car. Christensen told the FBI that he dropped her off a few blocks away.