FBI investigates disappearance of visiting Chinese scholar from University of Illinois campus


The FBI is investigating the disappearance of a visiting Chinese scholar at the University of Illinois who was last seen getting into a black car on campus two weeks ago, prompting an emotional appeal from her father.

Yingying Zhang, 26, was last seen on a security video camera getting into a black Saturn Astra in Urbana, Ill., on June 9.


Jon Holloway, assistant special agent in charge of criminal investigation at the Springfield FBI office, discussed the FBI’s efforts in the case at a campus meeting Thursday night, The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports.

The FBI, which has labeled the case as a kidnapping but has not ruled out other scenarios, said a $10,000 reward has been offered seeking information in the case. In addition, the Champaign county Crimestoppers organization has offered a separate $40,000 reward the case.

The FBI said Zhang, wearing a charcoal-colored baseball hat, pink-and-white top, and white tennis shoes, was carrying a black backpack when she got into the automobile.

The four-door hatchback, which appeared to be driven by a white male, was shown on the security video circling the area prior to making contact with Zhang, the FBI said.

She can be seen speaking with the driver for some time before she enters the vehicle.

Her father, Ronggao Zhang, who arrived last weekend from China, made an emotional appeal for her safe return in an interview with the News-Gazette.

“Ying, be strong. Dad is waiting for you here,” Zhang said, addressing his daughter. “I hope that being a good person you will be safe forever.”

Yingying began her studies in the natural resources and environmental sciences department in April.

Zhang, who works as a driver in China, said he, an aunt, and Yingying’s boyfriend, Xiaolin Hous, intended to stay in the U.S. as long as necessary to find his daughter.

“We’re not leaving without her,” he said through a translator.

USA Today | Contributing: Associated Press


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