On June 9th, 2019, Yingying Zhang was on a mission. This twenty-six-year-old student was determined to sign on her brand new apartment. We know this because it was the last message that she sent to the leasing agent that she was traveling to meet. Yingying was a student studying abroad from China at the University of Illinois. She had been granted the opportunity to study for a year, all while working in a lab that would give her great working experience in her biological studies.
She was set to learn, grow, and work with interesting plants. It was meant to be the start of a beautiful career, and a beautiful life that she planned on sharing with her boyfriend, who she planned to marry once the year was over. Unfortunately, Yingying never returned home.
Yingying’s Las Ride
Yingying’s disappearance involved many disturbing circumstances and lead to a widespread investigation. It all began with a car. According to reports, Yingying was heading to an apartment showing to sign a lease for a new apartment. She was very excited about this endeavor and was racing across town to make it possible. She got on one bus, then missed her second bus. Hastily, she texted the leasing agent to let her know that she was running late.
The troubling thing is that Yingying never got on a second bus. Instead, a Black Saturn drove by and looped the area before pulling up to Yingying. A brief conversation ensued and Yingying got into the vehicle with the driver. This footage was the last captured moments of Yingying’s life. This grainy footage would also be the only real evidence that police had to go on.
The security footage that showed Yingying getting into the car was blurry. Though police could make out the model of the car, they were unable to read the license plate. In this kind of instance, it is standard to pull all of the cars of that make that are registered in the area.
By doing this, police were able to locate Brendt Christensen, a local who had just recently left the University of Illinois himself. Upon being interviewed, he told police that he knew nothing and gave a loose alibi. Further examination of the footage revealed a few identifying details that they were able to tie back to Christensen, and the investigation continued.
We don’t know who allowed the police to search the apartment, but there is a good chance that it was Christensen’s wife. It is unclear if this is at all related to the revelation that Christensen also had a girlfriend on the side. The information shows that somebody who lived at the residence granted them access, which allowed them to locate a wide variety of concerning elements. First, there was evidence of blood and quite a lot of it. Ultimately, it was determined that the apartment had been the location for the murder.
Despite the evidence being found, Christensen’s girlfriend maintained his innocence. She was, in fact, so convinced of his innocence that she supposedly agreed to wear a wire to clear his name. You can imagine her surprise when he openly started bragging about how he killed Yingying, as well as how he killed a ton of other people. With enough evidence in hand, police promptly arrested Christensen and his case began to take place.
As is the case with many killers, a big issue surrounding Christensen’s behavior was the fact that the police did not know where Yingying’s body was. This unfortunate turn of events led them to rely on Christensen, but he didn’t have any good news. Reportedly, Christensen distributed her body in parts in various dumpsters. This meant that the police were completely unable to retrieve her body for her heartbroken family. Despite attempts to claim insanity, Christensen is in jail now and will be until he dies.