Federal prosecutors are seeking death penalty against Brendt Christensen, the University of Illinois Ph.D. candidate who is accused of kidnapping, torturing and killing YingYing Zhang, a visiting scholar from Nanping, China, last year.
United States prosecutors filed the notice on Friday in central Illinois with the U.S. District Court, according to NBC Chicago, citing that the alleged killing of the 26-year-old victim cruelly involved torture.
The family of Zhang Yingying, the Chinese scholar who went missing in June, is facing criticisms and allegations over the fundraising effort supposedly used for her search.
Zhang, 26, is a visiting graduate student at the University of Illinois, and she has been missing from the Urbana-Champaign campus since June 9.
Whoever has information leading to the location of 26-year-old Zhang Yingying will receive rewards of up to $50,000.
Zhang, a visiting Chinese student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, was last seen after 2 p.m. on June 9. She boarded an MTD Teal Line bus at 1:35 p.m. at Orchard Downs and got off at Springfield and Matthews avenues in Urbana at 1:52 p.m.