PEORIA, Ill. — The ex-girlfriend of a man accused of kidnapping and murdering a visiting University of Illinois Chinese scholar testified in court about conversations recorded while she was wearing a wire for the FBI.
Federal court continued Wedesnday for Brent Christensen, 29, who faces the death penalty after being accused of abducting, raping and murdering 26-year-old Yingying Zhang, who was studying at the Urbana-Champaign campus when she went missing in 2017. Her body has never been found.
The man's ex-girlfriend, 32-year-old Terra Bullis, recorded conversations between them when the FBI began to investigate Christensen upon Zhang's disappearance.
The two did not look at each other in court Wednesday. Christensen, who is handcuffed when he's not at the defense table, blankly stared straight ahead as Bullis, a Chicago native, described their unconventional relationship.
Bullis and Christensen were boyfriend and girlfriend while Christensen was married. He and his wife had an open relationship.
In court, Bullis described her relationship with Christensen and mentioned their shared interest in bondage and fetish websites. She said there was somebody on the website that he was talking to about an abduction fantasy.
Bullis said she decided to wear a wire for the FBI because she was emotionally attached to Christensen and wanted to know what was happening.
One of the places where she recorded Christensen was the June 29 vigil for Zhang’s family, friends and supporters amid the search for her. According to the Chicago Tribune, prosecutors said Christensen talked about how he held Zhang against her will and how she tried to fight back. They said he also described who would make the perfect victim.
Earlier Wednesday, jurors saw more of the FBI's forensic evidence from inside Christensen's apartment — the same apartment investigators believe he killed Zhang.
A DNA expert from the FBI Crime Lab in Quantico, Va., testified that the odds that DNA recovered from Christensen's home belonged to the missing scholar were 97 octillion to one.
Bullis is expected to continue testifying Thursday.