PEORIA, Ill. — Video was shown in court Tuesday showing a University of Illinois graduate student being questioned by FBI agents about the disappearance of a missing Chinese scholar.
Brendt Christensen is seen on an hour-long video answering questions from officials about 26-year-old Yingying Zhang’s disappearance. During the interrogation, Christensen changed his story several times.
At one point, he said he picked up a girl, but he wasn’t sure where and said she was speaking broken English.
A detective testified that he began to tremble and break out in hives when he was confronted with inconsistencies in his story.
Jurors also got a first look inside Christensen’s apartment — the same one where investigators believe he killed Zhang. Among the items found inside were a baseball bat they believe he used to kill her and chains he spoke about using to tie up his girlfriend. There were also stains on his bed that prosecutors said matched Zhang’s DNA.
Also Tuesday, a graduate student at the university told jurors that Christensen attempted to get Zhang into his car by posing as an undercover police officer.
Emily Hogan testified Tuesday that Christensen wore mirrored sunglasses and flashed a fake badge after pulling up to her at a bus stop. She approached his car but backed away when he asked her to get in.
Prosecutors say that happened on June 9, 2017, as Christensen hunted for a victim to fulfill a homicidal fantasy. They say that four hours later he successfully lured Yingying Zhang into his car, raped, beat and killed her. Her body has never been found.
On secretly recorded FBI audio tapes, Christensen admitted to the grisly details of the murder and claimed Zhang’s body would never be found.
Champaign’s News-Gazette reports Hogan testified she felt physically ill when she identified Christensen’s photo in a police display days later.