Brendt Christensen used to be a respected member of his society, a graduate teacher and assistant researcher at the University of Illinois highly revered by his students for his brilliance in the field of Physics. In 2017, he became not only known by members of his immediate society but by the world at large for clearly the wrong reason – he was arrested for the alleged kidnapping and presumed murder of visiting Chinese scholar, Yingying Zhang. From his wife to other facts of his life, learn more about Brendt below.
Bio – Who Is Brendt Christensen (Yingying Zhang’s Murder Suspect)?
Records have it that Brendt Allen Christensen was born on the 30th of June and in the year 1989 to Michael and Ellen Christensen. His place of birth was in North Central Wisconsin.
As a kid, Christensen was known to be a very happy, friendly, and well-behaved child loved by literally everyone in his neighborhood. He had his high school education at Stevens Point Area High School where he was part of a wrestling team and as well participated in track and field events. He was really good at sports to the point of him becoming a regular on the cover of the school’s yearbook.
Upon graduating from high school in 2007, he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, but transferred to the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he eventually graduated in 2013 with a degree in Physics. As he was a bright student, he opted to pursue his doctorate degree in Condensed Matter Physics at the University of Illinois the following year after he obtained his bachelor’s degree. Nonetheless, he later decided to abandon that for a Master’s degree.
Sometime in May 2016, he received his Master’s degree in Physics from the University of Illinois. Right after he was done with that, his good results were able to secure him the position of a graduate teacher at the University. It is said that his job ranged from supervising to overseeing discussion sessions, grading quizzes, and invigilating exams.
For those around him, his life was on the right track until he was arrested on the 30th of June 2017 by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) for the alleged kidnapping and presumed murder of a Chinese scholar, Yingying Zhang.
Zhang was a visiting scholar from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. She came to the United States with the sole purpose of carrying out research in the field of Photosynthesis and Crop Productivity. As scheduled, she was to conduct the said study in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
Upon his arrest, the FBI made some shocking revelations about Brendt Christensen and it left the people around him in shock and disbelief. According to the Bureau, the last time the Chinese scholar was spotted, she was entering a black Saturn Astra which happens to be Brendt Christensen’s car. Even though Brendt claimed to be at home on the said day playing games, a CCTV footage revealed otherwise.
Following more investigations, the graduate teacher was arrested by the authorities on the 30th day of June 2017 and dragged to court a few days later, on July 2nd. Even though Zhang’s body hasn’t been found, the authorities believe that she is dead and, that Brendt tortured her. It is said that the man visited the sexual fetish site, Fetlife and browsed through forums like Abduction 101 before the kidnapping happened.
His trial was rescheduled for April 2019 after he first appeared in court and it is expected to last for a period of five weeks. If found guilty, it’s most likely that he will face a death sentence or spend the rest of his natural life behind bars.
Not much is known about the wife of Brendt Christensen. Nevertheless, we can tell that she goes by the name – Michelle Christensen. Michelle graduated as a valedictorian from Stevens Point Area high school in 2006. Having known each other since their time as students of the school, Brendt and Michelle eventually became man and wife on the 11th of March 2011.
In 2018, following the several pieces of evidence suggesting that her husband might indeed be guilty of the crime, she filed for a divorce. Michelle went on to change her last name to Zortman for obvious reasons. From what we gathered, her divorce from Brendt was finalized in December 2018. But despite that, it is said that she is working with his defense team in order to free the man from the noose hanging around his neck.