Bond set at $10 million for murder suspect

Bond set at $10 million for murder suspect

URBANA - Authorities believe a woman slain in her Urbana apartment Friday morning feared the man accused of killing her.

Champaign County Judge Michael Jones set bond Saturday at $10 million for Yongfei Ci, 29, a University of Illinois Ph.D. student from China being held on a preliminary charge of murder for the fatal stabbing of Mengchen Huang, 25, a foreign national from China.

Ci lists a local address of 506 W. Elm St., U.

Ms. Huang, also a UI student, was pronounced dead at 11:50 a.m. Friday at her apartment in the One South complex in the 1300 block of North Lincoln Avenue.

In court Saturday morning, Assistant Champaign County State's Attorney Tim Sullivan laid out for Jones the details of what police have learned so far. 

According to Sullivan's summary, Ms. Huang and a female friend were at her apartment Friday morning when shortly before 11 a.m., Ci allegedly broke in. 

Sullivan said Ci is currently taking a course at Brown University in Providence, R.I., and traveled back to Urbana to confront Ms. Huang because he thought she had been cheating on him.

Ci's own UI web site says he is a sixth-year Ph.D. student in mathematics at the UI who is currently enrolled at the Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics at Brown. The current ICERM session runs from Sept. 9 through Dec. 6.

After forcing his way in, Ci allegedly used duct tape to cover the mouths of Ms. Huang and her friend, Xue Yang. He put Yang in a bathroom while Ms. Huang was in a living room.

He allegedly stabbed Ms. Huang in the throat at least three times and slit her throat. She was found facedown in a pool of blood.

Yang, meantime, got out through a bathroom window. She was in the courtyard of the complex crying uncontrollably but was able to call police. 

Although she did not personally know Ci or his name, Sullivan said, Yang knew from Ms. Huang the circumstances of the troubled relationship, that Ms. Huang  feared him, and that he was away at Brown.

Using what they learned from Yang, Urbana police contacted UI authorities to find out if they could supply a name of a person who was at Brown studying. In less than an hour, police had developed Ci as a suspect and were using cellphone technology to locate him.

They found him at the Value Place Apartments, 1212 W. Anthony Drive, C. Sullivan said when Ci saw police pulling in the parking lot, he called 911 and said he would come out, which he did, without incident, about 1:20 p.m.

Sullivan said Ci's passport was with him in the motel room and police had information that he had recently traveled to China. Jones said Ci was a flight risk and set his bond at $10 million. That means Ci would have to post $1 million cash to be released. Jones also ordered that Ci have no contact with Yang should he be released from jail.

He is expected to be formally charged on Monday.

Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup said an autopsy would be done on Ms. Huang.

About 12:45 p.m. Friday, the UI began sending out emergency alerts via text messaging and email that there had been a homicide at an off-campus apartment. The alerts listed Ci by name and gave a description of him and his car. 

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Urbana police at 217-384-2320 or Crimestoppers at 217-373-8477.

Tips can also be sent at or by text by sending "CCTip" plus the tip to CRIMES (274637).

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