Missing Chinese scholar’s parents arrive in Illinois for murder trial

Missing U of I scholar Yingying Zhang

URBANA, Ill. — The parents of a visiting University of Illinois scholar who disappeared two years ago have arrived in Illinois from China for the murder trial of the man accused of abducting and killing her.

Attorney Steve Beckett told The (Champaign) News-Gazette that Ronggao Zhang and Lifeng Ye arrived in Champaign over the weekend with their son. Their daughter, Yingying Zhang, went missing from the school’s Urbana-Champaign campus in June 2017. Former Illinois student Brendt Christensen is charged with killing Zheng, whose body hasn’t been found. He pleaded not guilty and his trial is set to begin Monday.

The family said in a statement that they “want to be present on behalf of Yingying and follow the case closely.” Beckett says the family plans to be in Peoria on Monday for the beginning of the proceedings.

Zhang’s family, who are from China’s Fu Jian province, also traveled to Illinois soon after she went missing.

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