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Girlfriend of suspect accused of kidnapping Illinois college student kidnapping wore wire for the FBI that led to arrest

January 17, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Girlfriend of suspect accused of kidnapping Illinois college student kidnapping wore wire for the FBI that led to arrest

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The girlfriend of an Illinois man charged with the kidnapping and death of a visiting scholar from China acquired incriminating evidence by wearing a wire for the FBI.

She was so nervous while covertly recording 28-year-old Brendt Christensen that she fainted in front of him on at least one occasion.

On Monday, Christensen’s lawyers filed a motion requesting that a federal judge exclude the tapes as evidence, contending that the girlfriend didn’t voluntarily consent to cooperate with the FBI.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the girlfriend wore the wire for more than two weeks, including at a vigil for Yingying Zhang — the missing student attending the University of Illinois — in June.

In one of the tapes, Christensen explained his “ideal victim” as he pointed out individuals in a crowd.

Brendt Christensen, 28, arrested in connection with the disappearance of Yingying Zhang, 26, on June 9, 2017, is shown in this mugshot photo in Champaign, Illinois. (MACON COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE/UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS POLICE DEPT)

In additional “audio surveillance” recordings, Christensen confessed to kidnapping Zhang.

He talked about her fighting back as he held her against her will.

Zhang’s remains have never been recovered, but prosecutors allege that she is not alive.

Court documents also indicate that a female University of Illinois graduate student tentatively named him as the man who acted as an undercover officer and attempted to lure her into his vehicle the same day Zhang went missing.

She viewed the picture on Christensen’s driver license and indicated that it “may have shared the most characteristics with the individual who approached her.”

She said it was hard to verify the man’s identity because he was wearing sunglasses at the time.

Christensen’s attorneys contend that the FBI threatened his girlfriend into wearing the wire.

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They said texts sent from her phone that day indicate that she “went into shock.”

“I’m upset,” the woman said in one message. “The FBI is going to take me in again…for more questioning.”

Defense lawyers maintain that the text show “an emotionally unstable individual who appears to lack the capacity to knowingly and voluntarily agree to anything, let alone something as serious as cooperating in a kidnapping investigation.”

Investigators allege that Christensen approached Zhang in his vehicle and lured her inside.

The interaction was caught on surveillance video.

Detectives focused on Christensen after his car was identified as the one seen on video.

The indictment indicates that the incident was committed “in an especially heinous, cruel or depraved manner, it involved torture or serious physical abuse to the victim,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

Christensen may face the death penalty if he is found guilty.

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