News Local/State

Police Continue Search For Missing U Of I Visiting Scholar

Yingying Zhang

Visiting scholar Yingying Zhang of China came to the U of I Urbana campus in April, and has been missing since Friday. University of Illinois Police

University of Illinois police say they've received many responses to their request for information in the case of a visiting scholar from China who has been missing since Friday. Security camera video shows 26-year-old Yingying Zhang climbing into a car on campus and then being driven away. Friends and family have not heard from her since.

"Many people have responded to our requests for information, and we are grateful for the outpouring of support from our community for Ms. Zhang", wrote U of I Police Chief Jeff Christensen in a statement released Monday evening. "While we cannot release many of the specifics involved in the investigation, we have enlisted all of the available resources which we believe may be useful in our search."

Police do not say that they know for certain if Zhang is in any danger. In a police webpage devoted to her case, they write that they are considering several scenarios, but "we are deeply concerned anytime someone cannot be contacted for an extended period of time"

Police say the video released Monday shows Zhang climbing into a black Saturn Astra near the B-4 parking garage on North Goodwin Avenue just after 2 p.m. Friday. 

The car pulled up next to Zhang in front of Campbell Hall for Public Telecommunications, where WILL/Illinois Public Media is headquartered. The video shows she and someone inside speaking for a while, followed by Zhang climbing in and the car driving away.

Police say their investigators have looked into other reports of a black vehicle who driver invited other young women into the car.

The News-Gazette reports that Zhang is a visiting researcher with the U of I's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences in the College  of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. She came to the Urbana campus in April.  The newspaper says she received her master’s degree in environmental engineering from Peking University and a bachelor’s degree from Sun Yat-Sen University. Her research focuses on photosynthesis and crop productivity.

Police have said Zhang was wearing a charcoal gray hat with a white logo, a white or pink flannel long-sleeved shirt, a white undershirt, jeans, white shoes and a navy blue backpack.  She has shoulder-length brown hair and wears glasses.

Anyone with any information on Zhang is asked to call 9-1-1, or U Campus Police at 217-333-1216, or email non-emergency information to