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FBI agent: No evidence to back up Brendt Christensen's claim that Chinese scholar was his 13th victim, but 'not saying it's completely impossible'

Jamie Munks, Chicago Tribune on

Published in News & Features

PEORIA, Ill. -- An FBI agent testified Monday that investigators have not been able to corroborate Brendt Christensen's claim that he killed 12 people before the abduction of Chinese scholar Yingying Zhang at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2017.

In a recording played for jurors Friday, Christensen tells his then-girlfriend, who was wearing a wire for the FBI, that Zhang was his 13th victim.

FBI Special Agent Andrew Huckstadt testified Monday in federal court that "we've said multiple times" that evidence has not been recovered linking Christensen with other murders.

"However, that's not the same as saying it's completely impossible," Huckstadt said. "We're continuing to investigate and that's as far as we can go at this time."

Christensen, 29, is accused of killing Zhang in June 2017 after she had missed a bus and got into his car. Christensen's defense team admitted in their opening statements Wednesday that Christensen killed Zhang, whose body has not been found. Christensen is facing the death penalty in the case.

In U.S. District Court on Friday and again Monday, jurors heard Christensen detail on the recordings for the FBI how Zhang fought back after he had abducted her. Christensen, who spoke as he attended a memorial walk for Zhang with his then-girlfriend, said on the recording that he beat Zhang and decapitated her.

 

William O'Sullivan, an FBI senior forensic examiner based in Springfield, detailed for jurors Monday morning how he analyzed the contents of Christensen's phone, including online messages exchanged with other users on the fetish website Fetlife.com.

(c)2019 Chicago Tribune

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