Reports Of Missing U of I Scholar In Salem Area

(SALEM, IL) — In a strange turn of events, multiple individuals in Salem are reporting encounters with a University of Illinois scholar from China one week after she was reported as being kidnapped in Champaign. According to multiple individuals, they were approached June 16 by 26-year-old Yingying Zhang at businesses across Salem. The young woman reportedly wanted to sell them jewelry to help support her education. One person says the missing scholar was in her store on June 16 wearing the same shirt in photos released by the FBI. That person also says Zhang’s family from China will be in Salem Thursday to pursue these reports. Gretchen Douglas, a Salem business owner, is one of the people who believe they encountered Zhang on June 16. Douglas says on Salem Police Chief Sean Reynolds read her post on Facebook about her encounter on June 16 and he encouraged her to contact the FBI, and she informed him she had. Douglas also says she escorted Zhang’s family around Salem on Thursday, taking them to meet with the numerous individuals who believe they saw the missing woman. However, FBI Media Representative Brad Ware tells us the agency is not aware of the family going to Salem or of any reports of her being seen in the area after her reported abduction. The Salem Police Department also says they have not received any calls or reports from the people claiming on Facebook to have seen Yingying Zhang seven days after her abduction. Currently federal authorities say they believe Zhang is dead, though her body hasn’t been found. Prosecutors say the suspect in her kidnapping attended a vigil for her a day before his arrest and spoke about how she resisted. A statement from Springfield’s U.S. attorney’s office followed a Wednesday detention hearing in Urbana for 28-year-old Brendt Christensen. A judge ordered he remain jailed because he’s potentially dangerous. Prosecutors said Zhang fought Christensen as he abducted her June 9. Prosecutors say Christensen also spoke about what makes an ideal victim. Prosecutors didn’t explain to whom Christensen made the comments. Agents arrested him Friday. There is a combined $50,000 in reward money available from the FBI and Crimestoppers for information leading to the whereabouts of Yingying Zhang.