At 2019 a.m. local time on June 6, 3, the Zhang Yingying case was officially opened in the Federal Court of Peoria, Illinois.

At the trial on June 6, the defendant’s lawyer stated in his opening statement that Christensen admitted to killing Zhang Yingying, a visiting scholar in China.

On the occasion of the second anniversary of Zhang Yingying's murder, the Zhang Yingying case, which concerns thousands of people, finally waited for the truth. We integrated information from multiple sources and conducted a comprehensive review of Zhang Yingying's case.

The figure below shows you clarify the key points of the case, and the following is the detailed story of the case.

Details of the case


Zhang Yingying is missing

June 6th: In the afternoon, Zhang Yingying disappeared on the way to sign the rental contract. At around 9 o'clock, colleagues called the police. Zhang Yingying's last figure was photographed by a surveillance camera on the campus. The screen showed that she walked into Christensen's car.

Investigation and evidence collection, arrest of suspects

June 6: The US police announced that the case of Zhang Yingying's disappearance was formally filed.

June 6: American police went to the scene to collect evidence.

June 6: The case was transferred to the FBI, and the police found the owners of 12 vehicles matching the vehicle model information, and began to contact the owners and initiate inquiries. The suspect Christensen was one of the owners on the list.At first, he said that he didn't remember, but later changed his saying that he was at home all day on June 6. He was sleeping or playing games, and his car was always in the garage.The police conducted a simple inspection of his vehicle.

June 6: After the police repeatedly watched surveillance videos, they locked the suspect's car as Christensen's car. At night, the FBI classified the case as a kidnapping. Zhang Yingying's family issued an open letter.

June 6: ChristensenDenied the previous confession and admitted that he had carried Asian women, but said he got off the car soon.The FBI found that the front passenger's door of its vehicle had been over-washed and believed that this was an act of removing traces of crime. At the same time, the FBI checked the mobile phone held by Christensen and found that on April 2017, 4,He once visited a forum called "Introduction to Kidnapping" on Fetlife (a special sex addiction website), and also read posts titled "Perfect Kidnapping Fantasy" and "How to Kidnap".

June 6: Police begin to monitor Christensen's whereabouts. The FBI sought secret assistance from his girlfriend to let the woman, abbreviated as TB, wear an eavesdropping device to monitor Christensen.

June 6: Zhang Yingying's family arrived in the United States, the school raised donations for the family, and the FBI offered a $17 reward for information about Zhang Yingying.

June 6: Zhang Yingying's family offered a reward of US$19 for information through an organization called "Champaign Prevent Crime Action".

June 6: Multi-party groups openly discussed support for searching for Zhang Yingying. The FBI says it has listed the case asNational priority"In order to maintain the legitimacy of the investigation and maximize the probability of finding Zhang Yingying, we cannot disclose more details of the investigation." UIUC police said"All available technology and manpower were requisitioned to handle this case". On the same day, Zhang Yingying’s family accepted an interview and hoped to convey information to Zhang Yingying through the media."Yingying, we miss you very much. Never give up. We will look for you forever."

Zhang Yingying's father Zhang Ronggao

June 6: In the afternoon, the FBI said that it had found the car that kidnapped Zhang Yingying, and refused to disclose when and where it was found. FBI: "We still need the public to provide information about Zhang Yingying's location. The FBI's $27 reward for information on Zhang Yingying's location is still valid."

June 6: On the 29th day of Zhang Yingying’s disappearance, the police heard Christensen’s callHe mentioned that he kidnapped and killed Zhang Yingying, and described how to take Zhang back to his apartment and force Zhang to stay. In the process, Zhang tried his best to resist.In addition, another recording showed that Christensen was attending Zhang Yingying's music prayer meeting with his girlfriend that night. He even pointed out to his girlfriend who in the crowd was his "ideal victim candidate."

June 6: The FBI announced that it had captured the 30-year-old suspect Christensen. After being arrested, Christensen remained silent, preventing the police from knowing Zhang Yingying's final whereabouts. Based on the evidence available,Think Zhang Yingying has been killed.

The suspect is prosecuted

July 7rd: Christensen accepts the first court hearing, which lasted 3 minutes, during which he remained silent. Subsequently, the court announced that the suspect could not be released on bail for the time being and would continue to be held in custody before the next trial.

On July 2017, 7, when Christensen appeared in court for the first time, Chinese students comforted each other outside the court. (Source: Chicago Tribune)

July 7th: Christensen accepts the second hearing. The judge ruled that the suspect’s bail request was rejected on the grounds of a significant potential danger to the community.

July 7: U.S. Federal Grand JuryThe suspect Christensen was formally charged with kidnapping.The indictment alleges that the defendant Christensen “intentionally and illegally seized, imprisoned, deceived, kidnapped and abducted Zhang Yingying on June 2017, 6, and then trapped Zhang Yingying for his own interests and purposes and committed a crime. Used inInterstate means, Objects, etc., to further infringe.” (“Interstate means” refers to the abolition of the death penalty in some states, so criminals may take the victim to some states that abolish the death penalty to escape sanctions.)

(Source: British newspaper sister)

July 7: Zhang Yingying's family increased the reward limit to US$14. They said: "Maybe there is someone who knows more information in some place that can help us find Yingying's location. With this hope, we will increase the reward to 5 US dollars. If someone can add Yingying Bring it back safely, we are willing to give higher rewards."

The suspect speaks for the first time: is taking antidepressants

July 7: The third trial, lasting 20 minutes and 4 seconds. Christensen after being caughtFor the first time, he said that he was taking antidepressants.His lawyer Bruno said:"The suspect will not plead guilty. He will wait for a trial by the jury." The court is tentatively scheduled to hold a pre-trial meeting on August 8 and trial on September 28.

The suspect's lawyer Bruno (Source: Southern Metropolis Daily)

The trial process was twists and turns

First postponement

August 8: The Federal District Court stated that due to the huge amount of evidence in the kidnapping case of Zhang Yingying, it takes more time to prepare, and it is likely that the suspect will be dealt with in the future.Add a new charge, Therefore approved the request of the suspect’s lawyer to postpone the trial time,Postponed the trial time to February 2018, 2, The pre-trial hearing is February 2018, 2.

Wang Zhidong, a lawyer for Zhang Yingying's family, said that the postponement of the trial would be beneficial to the final trial and believed that the prosecution would seek the death penalty.

September 9: The Federal Court approved the defendant’s defense lawyers’ application to withdraw from the trial. Subsequently, the court assigned a public defense lawyer to the defendant because of his low income. The lawyer stated in the statement that its goal isPrevent the Ministry of Justice from authorizing the use of the death penalty in this case, If you can’t stop the death penalty authorization, hope to win the court trial.

Additional prosecution, three new charges

October 10: The Springfield Federal Grand Jury sued Christensen again. The new indictment replaced the original indictment on July 3 and charged the defendant Christensen with three counts, the first of which wasUpgrading the crime of kidnapping to the crime of kidnapping causing death, The other two areProvide false statements to FBI agents.


January 1: US Attorney General Sessions approves the death penalty charge against Christensen. The prosecutor announced that he suspected that Christensen was involved in an assault and sexual assault case in central Illinois in 19, and stated that Christensen admitted that "there was more than one victim" and stated that he "desire to be a killer." Since then, both the prosecution and the defense have applied to the court to delay the trial date.

The second trial adjourned

February 2: U.S. Federal Judge Colin Bruce announced,Postpone the trial date to April 2019, 4. The family of Zhang Yingying expressed their respect for the judge's decision through lawyer Wang Zhidong, but expressed disappointment and regret that the trial date was postponed and postponed for nearly 14 months.

Zhang Yingying's family

October 10: The prosecutors questioned Christensen’s inmates. The "informant" revealed: "Christensen once revealed that,He showed Zhang Yingying a police badge and told her that he was a policeman and tricked her into getting into the car. "

December 12: The suspect's lawyer proposed a motion to change the trial venue, and the judge agreed.

On December 12, the Zhang Yingying case held a hearing. The suspect’s defense lawyer has repeatedly accused the federal government of taking over the matter, and they prefer the state court to take over the case. becauseThe death penalty was abolished in Illinois in 2011. The defendant’s defense lawyer stated that “the federal government lacks jurisdiction in this case, and it is unconstitutional to seek the death penalty in this case”. The judge retorted: “The suspect was in the kidnapping operationThe use of mobile phones brought the case into the jurisdiction of the Federal Court. "

December 12: Christensen’s defense attorney filed a motion,Accused the FBI of illegal searches, said the evidence was not counted, and tried to completely drop the charges.


January 1: U.S. Federal District Judge Shady made six rulings.Dismissed six motions proposed by the suspect Christensen’s defense team,include:

1. This case should be governed by state law, so the federal government does not have jurisdiction and requires the abolition of federal prosecutions;

2. Exclude the recordings obtained during the conversation between the suspect's girlfriend with a bug;

3. Exclude the evidence that the suspect had two conversations with the police and multiple conversations with his girlfriend;

4. Exclude the recording of telephone conversations in prison after the arrest of the suspect;

5. Exclude the evidence obtained by searching the suspect's apartment;

6. It is believed that in the state of Illinois, which has abandoned the death penalty, seeking the death penalty under the federal law violates the Federal Constitution.

Zhang Yingying’s aid lawyer Wang Zhidong said that this means"The defense lawyer's massive efforts have been seriously frustrated".

February 2: The defense used various means to postpone and obstruct the trial, proposing an extension on the grounds that a mental health expert they found was not ready for the April trial.

Trial adjourned for the third time

March 3: Judge Shadi extended the trial time for 1 months,Postponed to June 6, Saying that the wishes of family members have been considered.

April 4: The judge decided to change the trial venue to Peoria.

June 6rd: In the morning, the first trial was held at the Federal Court of Peoria. The judge introduced the case to 3 potential jury members (16 women, 11 men), and explained that the prosecutor would raise an issue with the defendant."Kidnapping to Death"AndTwo crimes of "perjury".

On June 6, Zhang Yingying’s father entered the court hearing with a solemn expression and a tired expression (Source: American Chinese TV)

June 6: The court announced that it had selected 11 jurors and 12 alternate jurors. The guilt or sentencing of the defendant will be determined jointly by these jury members.

The suspect finally pleaded guilty

On June 6, the prosecution and defense of Zhang Yingying's case opened the case. The picture shows Zhang Yingying's mother Ye Lifeng (right) and her younger brother Zhang Xinyang (middle) arriving at the US court (Source: Visual China)

June 6: The defendant's lawyer stated in his opening statement,Christensen admitted to killing Zhang Yingying, a Chinese visiting scholar, and stated that Zhang Yingying was raped and tortured before her death. Although he admitted the crime,But he still did not change his position of insisting on his innocence defense.

The prosecutor stated that in the wiretap recording provided by Christensen’s girlfriend, Christensen described the heinous details of the crime, which he claimed to beZhang Yingying is her thirteenth victimHe also boasted that the last person to commit such a crime was the American serial murderer Ted Bundy in the 70s.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene Miller described Zhang Yingying's experience in the opening statement on behalf of the prosecutor:"He kidnapped her, he murdered her, he covered up his crimes". Miller pointed out that on the day of the crime, the defendant Christensen pretended to be an undercover police officer, persuaded Zhang Yingying to get in the car, and kidnapped her back to her apartment to rape her. Later, he stabbed Zhang Yingying in the bathtub, then used a baseball bat to break her head, pinch her throat for about 10 minutes, suffocate her, then decapitate her, and finally abandon her body elsewhere. During the whole process, Zhang Yingying resisted, struggled and tried to escape.

Miller pointed out that currently,The location where the remains were discarded is unclear. After the body was abandoned, the defendant thoroughly cleaned the apartment and the vehicle to cover up his crime. However, investigators found blood spots on the defendant’s mattress, bed board, wall, under the carpet and on the baseball bat. The DNA blood sample test matches Zhang Yingying. Christensen said,Zhang Yingying's remains will never be found. Her family set out from China to try to find her, but they will "go home empty-handed.".

Zhang Yingying’s family lawyer Wang Zhidong said: The defense lawyer admitted that Christensen caused Zhang Yingying’s death when he opened the case.A strategy and trick to try to exempt criminals from the death penalty.

The defendant's lawyer proposes a new motion: the defendant's girlfriend's ability to testify is in doubt

Suspect Christensen and girlfriend

Also of concern is that recently, the defendant’s lawyer claimed that the defendant’s girlfriend TB (code name), who had helped the FBI to record key testimonies, had received many psychological treatments.Her mental illness directly affected her ability to testify, credibility and reliability, Therefore requested that the key witness’s mental health treatment records be disclosed.

The defendant’s lawyer stated in the motion: “There are strong signs that TB has a health problem, and she has received mental health treatment many times. Given her relationship and interaction with Christensen, she may provide inflammatory testimony during the trial. "The lawyer also emphasized that between July and December 2017, TB visited a psychologist six times and spent more than $7 on prescription drugs.

Defendant's lawyer: the goal is to avoid the death penalty

Christensen’s lawyer argued that Christensen was an excellent graduate student, but he also sufferedDrug abuse, alcoholism and marriage failure, And the problem of worsening academic performance, life is "in chaos", which led to Zhang Yingying's death. "He is not a monster, but just a man struggling between drug abuse and mental illness, and has sought counseling on campus."

FBI interrogation video released: Suspect buys sewer dredging agent

(Picture source: screenshot of the world’s second shot video)

The video provided by the FBI shows that on the day Zhang Yingying disappeared, Christensen bought a bottle of cheap rum in the morning. 3 days later, Christensen bought it in the same storeGarbage bags and a product used to clean drains.

The death penalty depends on the jury

At present, the trial of Zhang Yingying's case is in the second stage. It is expected that the conviction trial will be completed on or before June 6.

Although Illinois has abolished the death penalty since 2011,Allowing the death penalty for defendants in individual cases. Wang Zhidong said that the prosecution is suing Christensen for the crime of kidnapping and causing death. In federal law, the possible penalty for kidnapping and causing death is death penalty or life imprisonment. The prosecutor in this case is seeking a death sentence.If the jury reaches a consensus, Christensen may become the first defendant sentenced to death in the state in the past 15 years..

The hell is empty, the devil is on earth! The trial is long overdue, I hope justice will not be absent. We will continue to pay attention to this case.


This article comes from the in-depth analysis column "Wind Direction" of Phoenix News Author Wang Shu Drawing Han Jing