University of Wisconsin-Madison

Man held in Chinese scholar's kidnapping was grad student

The 28-year-old Illinois man charged with kidnapping a Chinese scholar now believed to be dead was among a select few admitted to the University of Illinois' highly competitive physics graduate program in 2013.

Brendt Allen Christensen originally planned to earn a doctorate degree, but told his graduate adviser in 2016 he had changed his mind, Professor Lance Cooper recalled on Saturday. He didn't say why, and Christensen continued taking classes and teaching as a graduate assistant. He earned his master's degree in mid-May.

Christensen is in federal custody awaiting a court appearance Monday in the June 9 kidnapping of Yingying Zhang, the 26-year-old daughter of a...

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