Slain UI scholar's family: 'Emotional distress has been ... unbearable'


Listen to this article

Yingying Zhang’s family issued the following statement on Monday afternoon, shortly after Brendt Christensen was found guilty of kidnapping and killing the visiting UI scholar:

"This has been a difficult process for Yingying’s family. They have been traumatized by the loss of Yingying, by the delays in the case against the person who murdered Yingying and by the testimony they heard during the trial. Their emotional distress has been, at times, unbearable. The jury’s verdict of guilty in this case is a step toward justice for Yingying and a step toward closure for Yingying’s family.

"The work of the University of Illinois Police Department, the FBI and the coordination with the MTD and so many others in the investigation is nothing short of remarkable. These men and women took Yingying’s disappearance to their hearts and worked for the benefit of Yingying and her family. Special thanks to Anthony Manganero and Andrew Huckstadt are due because of their efforts in leading the investigation.

"The prosecutors Eugene Miller, Bryan Freres and Jim Nelson have treated the family with respect and to the extent possible have kept the family informed at all stages of the case. We know they have dedicated themselves to justice for Yingying and for the family."

Ms. Zhang's father, Ronggao Zhang, issued this statement:

"On behalf of Yingying, our beloved daughter, and for my wife, my son and myself, I thank the jury for this step toward justice.

"We thank the prosecutors, the University of Illinois police, the FBI and all who helped in the investigation and trial of this case.

"We thank the many people in China, America and across the world who have reached out to us in friendship to support us. We would like to especially thank the friends who have helped us with our daily living from both Champaign and Peoria Chinese Associations and churches.

"We have missed Yingying tremendously in the past two years. As of today, we could still not imagine how we will live the rest of our lives without her. There is no language that can describe our pain and suffering. We hope and believe that this trial will eventually bring justice to Yingying and us. Our wish has always been to find Yingying and bring her home. We will not give up."