US man who allegedly kidnapped, raped and beheaded Chinese student was obsessed with serial killers like Ted Bundy
29-year-old Brendt Christensen from Illinois could get the death penalty if he is convicted in the kidnapping and murder of graduate student YingYing Zhang
A man from Illinois has been accused of killing and kidnapping a Chinese graduate student two years ago. It has been revealed that the man was obsessed with serial killers such as Ted Bundy and others, a federal prosecutor shared on Wednesday, June 11.
The man, 29-year-old Brendt Christensen, could be facing the death penalty if he is convicted in the June 2017 kidnapping and murder of Yingying Zhang. The body of Zhang, a 26-year-old student at the University of Illinois, has not been found yet.
Christensen's defense lawyer acknowledged in his opening statement that the 29-year-old had killed Zhang but disputed the prosecution's version of what took place. The lawyer, George Taseff, shared with the jury, "You need to know who Brendt was and what he was going through — a downward spiral in his life," while attempting to seek protection from the death penalty for his client. Even though the state of Illinois has done away with the death penalty, a federal trial had allowed the prosecutors to seek the death penalty.
Christensen has been charged with murder, kidnapping and lying to federal investigators and pleaded not guilty on all counts. He had appeared in court while sporting a blue shirt with his hands cuffed behind his back. The trial took place in Peoria, which is 90 miles northwest of Champaign-Urbana. An assistant US attorney for central Illinois, Eugene Miller shared that Christensen was obsessed with serial killers like Ted Bundy who murdered dozens of women in 1970s, among several others.
Miller shared in his opening statement, "He kidnapped her, he murdered her, and he covered up the crime." Before he committed the murder, Christensen had researched how to kidnap someone and purchased a large duffel bag. On the day of the killing, he was looking for a victim when he came across Zhang who was small and did not speak much English. He then hit her with a baseball bat, raped her, stabbed her and cut off her head.
Miller said, "Her blood ran down the wall. Thousands of miles away from her parents, alone with a stranger, she breathes her last breath." According to his attorney Taseff, his client had reached rock bottom after learning that his girlfriend was with another man on the day of the murder. He reportedly bought a bottle of rum and drove around while drinking. "At 2 o'clock in the afternoon, he does the unthinkable."
Zhang had moved to Illinois from China's southern province of Fujian and was studying photosynthesis and crop production at the university for two months before she was reported missing. Her boyfriend at the time Xiaolin Hou told the court, "We will never give up hope to find her."