‘His ideal victim’: Suspect in kidnapping and presumed murder of Chinese scholar incriminated himself while under FBI surveillance

The suspect in the kidnapping of visiting Chinese scholar was under FBI surveillance for two weeks, and the agency recorded multiple recordings during that time, CBS News reports.

Brendt Christensen was arrested late last week in connection with the June 9 disappearance of Yingying Zhang, who was last seen on surveillance camera getting into a car believed to belong to the suspect. Police have said they believe Zhang is no longer alive, but she has not been found.

Christensen, 28, who has been charged with kidnapping, reportedly admitted to giving a Chinese woman a ride on June 9, but claimed he dropped her off somewhere.

As Crime Online previously reported, Christensen attended a vigil for the missing researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, while he was under FBI surveillance. CBS News reports that the FBI recorded Christensen describing  “the characteristics of an ideal victim” during the vigil, and may have even pointed out people in the crowd who fit that description.

The FBI reportedly obtained additional recordings of Christensen speaking about the alleged kidnapping, but it is not known where those statements were made. According to CBS News, Christensen at one point allegedly described how Zhang “fought and resisted” as he abducted her.

Former FBI profiler Mary Ellen O’Toole spoke to CBS News about why a potential suspect might risk exposure by attending an event dedicated to their victim.

“It could’ve made him feel very important,” O’Toole told the news outlet. “He knows that he is the person that’s responsible for all of this fear… and another reason that he could go to a vigil is to find out what’s going on in the investigation. If you go to the vigil and you leave the vigil, in his mind he’s not arrested, so maybe he’s not developed as a suspect.”

On Wednesday, a federal judge ordered Christensen to remain in custody until his trial.


Feature photo: Associated Press