'Give my daughter back'

'Give my daughter back'

CHAMPAIGN — Ronggao Zhang has a message for whomever's responsible for his daughter's disappearance 13 days ago on the UI campus.

"Give my daughter back," the father of visiting UI scholar Yingying Zhang said through an interpreter on Thursday.

"Ying, be strong, Dad is waiting for you here," he said. "I hope that being a good person you will be safe forever."

During an emotional interview with The News-Gazette on Thursday morning, family members and friends from the missing scholar's hometown near Hong Kong say they're not satisfied with the state of the investigation aimed at finding her.

Ronggao Zhang; Yingying's aunt, Liqin Ye; and her boyfriend, Xiaolin Hou, arrived in the United States on Saturday hoping investigators from the UI Police Department and the FBI could give them insight regarding the search for the 26-year-old woman, who went missing on June 9. Surveillance video showed her entering a black Saturn Astra on Goodwin Avenue in Urbana.

"What we hoped was to come here to have the opportunity to meet with the police and communicate with the police face to face and hopefully that would give more information, updates," Hou said through translator Anna Tsai of the UI chancellor's office. "Since we arrived here, we felt being here has not been getting them more information. We're hoping to learn about the progress of the case.

"We're obviously very, very anxious the longer it goes. We're very concerned about the slow progress of the investigation."

Zhang's father said they will remain in the U.S. as long as necessary.

"We're not leaving without her," he said.

On Wednesday, UIPD Chief Jeff Christensen released a statement updating the investigation.

"We realize that this has been a source of anxiety for our entire campus community. Our concern for Yingying grows with each day that passes and we have personally witnessed the pain this uncertain time has created for her family members, friends and colleagues," Christensen said. "While we cannot share specific details not he investigation in order to maintain its integrity and direction, we continue to make progress in our search, and we will not give up until we find her."

Zhang's family and boyfriend have been joined in Champaign-Urbana by her close friend, Yige Yang, a Ph.D. student at Syracuse University.

Zhang arrived at the UI on April 24 as a visiting scholar in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences. Her goal is to become a professor at a university either in the U.S. or back in China, according to Yang.

She comes from a family of modest means. Her father has worked as a driver for an electrical company and a taxi driver in China. Her mother, who remains in China because family members say she wasn't physically or emotionally up to the task of traveling to the U.S., is a housewife.

"Because the financial situation at home is not great, (Zhang's) goal is to study hard and help the family. Her focus in college was studies," said Ye, the scholar's aunt. "She was between the classroom and the library. She also worked as a tutor so she could earn additional income."

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Roanrider wrote on June 22, 2017 at 3:06 pm

How exactly is this "Breaking News"??

cweiriit wrote on June 22, 2017 at 3:06 pm

Breaking News: newly received information about an event that is currently occurring or developing.

The new information is that a journalist (probably Mr Jackson) had an interview with Mr Zhang and the content of the interview, and that information is about (related to) the ongoing event of Ms Zhang's disappearance and the investigation thereof.

Mr Dreamy wrote on June 22, 2017 at 7:06 pm

Zhang's father said they will remain in the U.S. as long as necessary.

"We're not leaving without her," he said.


How long is his visa good for? If he overstays, ICE will grab him.

cweiriit wrote on June 23, 2017 at 3:06 pm

You are wildly exaggerating the intensity of Illinois winters.

gbyy wrote on June 27, 2017 at 7:06 pm

Mr. Dreamy,

It does not hurt you a bit to have some compassion for Yingying and her family.