On the afternoon of June 9, 2017, Chinese scholar Yingying Zhang had taken a bus back to Urbana, Illinois where she was residing at the time. The bus dropped her off at the intersection of Spring and Mattews Avenues after she had departed the University of Illinois campus. When she arrived at the intersection she walked approximately four blocks before she was approached by a person who has since been described as a white male driving a black Saturn Astra. Zhang spoke with the driver for a few minutes before climbing in. She hasn’t been seen since.
Zhang had recently traveled from China to Urbana on a yearlong appointment with the University of Illinois. There, she was conducting research on photosynthesis and crop production for the university’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science, according to an article printed in the Chicago Heights Patch.
WGN reports that Zhang’s friends have said that she was en route to sign a lease for a new place in the area, but police have not released whether or not anyone has identified the driver of the vehicle Zhang was last seen entering.
The FBI is currently considering the case to be a kidnapping and has offered a $10,000 reward to anyone who can direct them to the scholar’s whereabouts. Surveillance footage of the intersection where the driver of the Aspen picked Zhang up has since been released to the public.