The hunt continues for missing University of Illinois student, Yingying Zhang. The FBI has officially joined the investigation and is now offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the student’s whereabouts. Yingying Zhang is a visiting scholar at the University of Illinois who was reported missing on Friday, June 9, 2017, from the Urbana-Champaign campus.
The 26-year-old Yingying Zhang was in transit to sign a lease on an apartment in the Champaign area, according to the Chicago Tribune. The FBI is treating Yingying’s disappearance as a kidnapping and the Bureau is now investigating.
Zhang, who traveled from China to the school’s campus in April, was last seen entering a black Saturn Astra on the college campus, and University police released a video of her getting into the car.
The footage below was taken from surveillance of the college campus from a nearby parking garage and is the last time Yingying Zhang was seen in public. The 26-year-old student stood at a bus stop, chatted briefly with the driver who pulled up to her and entered a black Saturn Astra. University police released a video of her getting into the car.
According to police, the car was driven by an unidentified white male.
Police are looking at her cellphone records to investigate whether the car Zhang entered may have been an Uber or other ride-sharing vehicles.
One day after Zhang’s disappearance, her father arrived in the United States to join in the search for his daughter on Saturday. Dr. Kim Tee is a family friend who called Zhang “very reserved” and said that the family has “no record of where she’s at.”
The FBI asked the public to help find 26-year-old Yingying Zhang and offered a $10,000 reward leading to her whereabouts.
The University of Illinois Community Credit Union has also set up a GoFundMe account to help cover the living expenses of Zhang’s family while they are in the United States.
The University of Illinois Police Department has confirmed in a statement that they have a good working relationship with the FBI and the Illinois State Police. The campus police released a search update to the community on information on the visiting scholar.
The department added that they have categorized this as a missing person case or a “kidnapping.” The campus authorities said there is no way to confirm what has happened, however, they are not ruling anything out.
University of Illinois Police Department has advised the community to remain observant and aware of their surroundings. If any suspicious activity is noticed, or if a student feels uncomfortable or concerned for their safety, to immediately call 911.
Anyone with information on the kidnapping or current whereabouts of Zhang can contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI, or by calling Champaign County Crime Stoppers at 217-373-TIPS.
Zhang, who is from Jianyang, China, was researched photosynthesis and crop productivity in collaboration with the University of Illinois’ Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, according to Associated Press.
[Featured Image by FBI/Twitter]