MIAM (CBSMiami) — A federal judge ordered the man accused of kidnapping a Chinese exchange student attending the University of Illinois-Urbana held without bond until his trial.
Brendt Christensen made his first appearance in federal court Monday morning following his arrest last Friday.
Yingying Zhang was in a doctoral program at the university where Christensen had graduated in May.
Surveillance video allegedly shows the moment Christensen pulled over to talk to Zhang. A minute later, Zhang got into Christensen’s black Saturn and drove away.
Police determined the sunroof and cracked hubcap on the car in the surveillance video matched Christensen’s 2008 Saturn.
Lance Cooper was Christensen’s former academic adviser in the physics graduate program at the university.
“There was nothing unusual about him. He was…a bit quiet but he interacted well with the students…he was quite a good teacher,” said Cooper.
During a June 15th interview with the FBI, Christensen admitted to giving an Asian woman a ride.
According to the complaint, Christensen said, “he believed he made a wrong turn, because the female became panicked.” He then claimed he let her out of the car.
During a search of Christensen’s phone, they discovered he had visited a forum in April called “Abduction 101.”
Investigators began monitoring Christensen’s activities one day after he was interviewed.
The day before his arrest, investigators recorded Christensen explaining how he had kidnapped Zhang, took her back to his apartment, and held her against her will.
Zhang’s family flew to Illinois after she disappeared.
“They kept their hope up until the news came out that the suspect was arrested and the FBI presumed that YingYing probably won’t be alive,” said Tina Chu, Director of the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago and Zhang family translator.
Zhang came to the university in April as a visiting scholar. This fall, she planned to join the school’s doctoral program and get her PHD.