Two Separate Rewards Try To Attract Information On Zhang Disappearance
There are now two separate rewards posted for information that helps solve the disappearance of Yingying Zhang. Zhang is the 26-year-old University of Illinois visiting scholar from China who has been missing since June 9th.
Zhang’s family has traveled from China to Champaign-Urbana in hopes of finding her. And they’re offering a reward of up to $40,000 for information leading to her return, or an arrest in connection with her disappearance.
The reward is funded mostly through fundraising efforts conducted through the crowdfunding website gofundme.com, and through the University of Illinois Community Credit Union.
It was initially reported that the money raised through gofundme would also help Zhang's family with living expenses during their time in the U-S. But U of I spokeswoman Robin Kaler says the family has insisted that all of the money raised go toward a reward. Kaler says the university is providng housing for the family while they are here, and that the Chinese Students and Scholars Association on Campus is assisting with meals.
Meanwhile, Champaign County Crime Stoppers will work with the family to facilitate the reward. Anyone with information can contacdt Crime Stoppers at 217-373-TIPS and at www.373tips.com.
Distribution of the money will be based on the tips received through Crime Stoppers, which are all anonymous.
At a news conference Monday attended by members of Zhang's family, Champaign County Crime Stoppers Board President John Hecker said they specialize in paying rewards for anonymous tips.
“We do not want to know, we never will know who our informant is” said Hecker. “And that’s true of all of our cases, not just this case, but that’s the way Crime Stoppers operates, is the guarantee of anonymity.”
Hecker notes that the $40,000 is the largest amount Crime Stoppers has ever worked with.
Meanwhile, the FBI is offering its own $10,000 reward for information leading to the location of Yingying Zhang. But FBI spokesman Brad Ware says informants will have to identify themselves to have a chance of collecting.
The FBI has added Zhang to its "Most Wanted" list as a kidnap victim.
Zhang came to the University of Illinois Urbana campus this spring to work as a researcher in the College of ACES. She was last seen on June 9th, when she had told friends she was going out to sign an apartment lease. A surveillance camers caught her getting into a black Saturn Astra at a campus bus stop on Goodwin Avenue. Friends and family have not heard from Zhang since, and authorities are treating her disappearance as a kidnapping.
NOTE: This story was revised to correct the phone number for Champaign County Crime Stoppers --- the area code is 217. - JM 7/14/17