Man charged for Yingying's disappearance was a U of I graduate student


The University of Illinois has been a part of this investigation from the very beginning, but new details after Friday night's arrest reveal that the suspect also has ties to U of I.

Brendt Christensen was arrested and charged with the kidnapping of Yingying Zhang.

However, it wasn't that long ago that Christensen walked the halls of the physics building on campus, or taught in the classrooms.

Until recently, Christensen was a graduate student and teaching assistant in the physics department at the University of Illinois.

His arrest comes as a shock to the university.

"Everyone is stunned," University of Illinois physics professor and graduate student adviser Lance Cooper said. "I've gotten many, many emails from graduate students and faculty expressing complete disbelief and surprise."

As a teaching assistant, Christensen received top reviews from his students.

"He has made the excellent teaching list four out of five times that he taught," Cooper said.

But Saturday many students were upset that the suspect was on their campus.

"I was a physics student so I took a bunch of classes in this building all the time," 2017 University of Illinois graduate Arjun Subramanian said. "So when I heard that he's a physics student I was like that's crazy because he might have been my TA. It gives me goose bumps."

With this disbelief, comes compassion for the Zhang family.

"All of the feedback I've been getting from students is just concern for the family," Cooper said.

Professor Cooper also said that the physics department is not responsible for this incident and that the program will continue to run the way it has in the past.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off