As Search For Missing Scholar Continues, International Students Express Frustration With Pace

June 22, 2017
 

YingYing Zhang's father, Ronggao Zhang, far left, and boyfriend, Xiaolin Hou, far right, enter the room where a forum was held Thursday on the search for the missing scholar.

David Mercer/WILL

International students said at a forum Thursday on the search for missing University of Illinois scholar YingYing Zhang say they are frustrated with the pace of the case. And they say people in Zhang’s native China are increasingly uneasy, too.

Yifan Ping and Robin Huang of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association said they try to explain the need for patience. But Ping says that as days pass since Zhang was last seen on June 9, students here and their families in China grow anxious.

“They are frustrated and they wish they could contribute more to this event, to push things forward,” Ping said.

University spokeswoman Robin Kaler said frustration is understandable but should not be directed at investigators.

“So, be angry at us if you want, be angry at me if you want, but they’re going to do their jobs,” Kaler told the several dozen people at the forum.

FBI Special Agent Jon Holloway said he could not share new information about the case without potentially compromising it. But he said the agency is making progress, and said it has dedicated resources from beyond Illinois to the search.

Zhang's father, Ronggao Zhang, her aunt, Liqin Ye; and her boyfriend, Xiaolin Hou, sat quietly in the front row on the room at Altgeld Hall during the forum but did not speak. They arrived in the United States last weekend as the search for Zhang continued.

Surveillance camera footage showed her climb into a black Saturn Astra on June 9 on Goodwin Avenue on the north side of campus. She has not been seen since.

Zhang came to the university in April as a visiting scholar.

Some in the crowd Thursday raised questions about everything from whether the university community could offer technical expertise and resources, to whether the university should have better, higher-resolution cameras and have them in more places than it does now.

Holloway said the FBI has the best forensic resources available, while university police Chief Jeff Christensen said the university has roughly 1,500 cameras in place and plans to add more and, in some cases, better cameras.

Anyone with information on Zhang's disappearance should contact campus police at police@illinois.edu, or Crimestoppers at (217) 373-TIPS or online at 373tips.com.

Story source: WILL