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Vehicle in scholar's abduction found

China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-06-28 10:42

CHAMPAIGN, Illinois - The vehicle used in the abduction of a Chinese visiting scholar in Illinois has been located, the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Springfield Field Office announced in a press release on Tuesday. The car was described as a black Saturn Astra four-door hatchback.

It has been 18 days since 26-year-old Zhang Yingying, a Chinese visiting scholar at the University of Illinois' Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), was last captured by security cameras getting into the car around 2:04 pm on June 9, at the corner of West Clark Street and North Goodwin Avenue in Urbana.

"The University of Illinois Police Department and FBI have received numerous leads regarding the vehicle, and we are announcing we have located the vehicle. We will not need any further information from the public regarding the Black Saturn Astra," the press release reads.

In a meeting at UIUC on June 22, an FBI spokesperson called finding Zhang a "national priority" for the agency, according to The Associated Press.

Neither the FBI nor the University of Illinois Police Department could comment further on the case.

"The case is ongoing, which means that we cannot share any information relating to the questions you asked, where was the car found, was the person still using the car, etc.," Brad Ware, media representative for the FBI Springfield Division, told China Daily.

"We have developed several additional leads and would like to remind the public that this is still an active investigation," Ware added. "We continue to ask the public for information that could lead to locating Ms. Zhang."

The FBI continues to offer a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the location of Zhang, and Crime Stoppers, a non-profit organization, is still cooperating with Zhang's family offering a $40,000 reward for any information leading to her discovery.

Zhang's father announced earlier that "If Yingying can come back safely, I will not go after you.

"We will forgive you," he said in a phone interview, "but please, let Yingying go," NBC News reported.

Speaking through a translator, he added: "Yingying, please be strong."

On Thursday evening, June 29, the UIUC Chinese Students and Scholars Association is going to hold a Walk and Concert to Support Yingying Zhang, according to the school's website.

Volunteers are still making a great effort. Feng Lili, a UIUC volunteer, said that "volunteers are helping her family with local activities, organizing media reports and possible clues. Most of the volunteers collect clues online and spread case progress."

Anyone with information should call the FBI at 1-800-225-5324, the Springfield Office of the FBI at (217) 522-9675, or the University of Illinois police at (217) 333-1216. Anonymous tips can be submitted at (217) 373-TIPS or by visiting 373tips.com.

Xiao Jiaqiao in New York contributed to this story.

China Daily

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