Members of the Zhang family support Lifeng Ye, second from left, mother of murdered University of Illinois visiting scholar Yingying Zhang, as attorney Zhidong Wang, foreground, translates a statement from the father, Ronggao Zhang, during a news conference, Thursday, July 18, 2019, at the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Peoria, Ill. Brendt Christensen was sentenced Thursday to life in prison for Yingying Zhang's kidnapping and murder. (Matt Dayhoff/Journal Star via AP)

Slim chance of ever finding Chinese scholar's body

July 19, 2019 - 1:06 pm

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — Illinois authorities have said the remains of a slain 26-year-old scholar from China may never be found despite a vow from prosecutors this week that the search will continue.

Brendt Christensen, a former physics doctoral student at the University of Illinois, abducted Yingying Zhang in 2017. Prosecutors say he beat her to death at his off-campus apartment, decapitated her and carried her away in a duffel bag.

Christensen was sentenced Thursday to life in prison without parole and Zhang's family begged him to reveal what he did with her body so her remains can be returned home.

But authorities believe that with his background in science, Christensen destroyed the remains. Evidence at his trial included an article Christensen downloaded before the killing called, "Beyond the Grave — Understanding Human Decomposition."