Family of missing scholar joins search

Latest: 4:50 pm, 6/22/17, Thursday

CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) -- Yingying Zhang's father is working closely with Crime Stoppers to find his daughter. It's offering its highest reward ever.

John Hecker, president of Champaign County's Crime Stoppers, says being here has been overwhelming for him. He says the family is obviously distraught and is doing anything they can to find Zhang.

Crime Stoppers is offering $40,000 for anyone with information on her disappearance. She's now been missing for almost two weeks. Surveillance video shows her getting into a black Saturn Astra after a brief conversation with the driver.

The visiting scholar's family is funding the reward with help from a GoFundMe page. Hecker says he can only imagine how difficult it is for the family. Before this experience, he says the family had never been immersed in American culture.

Although Heckler can't comment on any tips, he's working very closely with the family and police to get whatever information is available on Zhang's whereabouts.

The FBI is also offering a $10,000 reward for information. A meeting, Thursday night, 6 pm, at Altgeld Hall, will include counseling services to talk about campus support.  

Latest: 10:10 pm, 6/18/17, Sunday

CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) -- The FBI is offering up to $10,000 for information to help them find Yingying Zhang. The visiting scholar has been missing for more than a week. 

Zhang's family arrived on campus to join the search Saturday. Authorities have made arrangements for the family to stay on campus, and the UI Credit Union has set up a GoFundMe account to help the family pay for expenses.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police. Authorities say anonymous tips are welcome.

For more information, click here

Latest: 10:20 pm, 6/17/17, Saturday

CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) -- The family of the UI scholar who's been missing for a week is joining the search. Yingying Zhang's father, aunt and boyfriend arrived on the UI campus Saturday where they met with University Police and the FBI.

Member of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association said the family is doing its best to hold it together.

"Everybody is really concerned, and the whole environment is really sad. All I can say is right now they're doing much better because they know the environment and the situation better. They're having more confidence about this."

Zhang's father, a taxi driver in China, said he hasn't been able to sleep since Zhang's disappearance and he doesn't plan to leave the country until he finds her.

If you have any information call 911 or contact UI police.  

Latest: 7:00 pm, 6/16/17, Friday

CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) -- It's been one week since U of I scholar Yingying Zhang went missing. Little information has come out in the seven days she's been gone.

Law enforcement officials want everyone to know finding her is a top priority even if they're not providing constant updates.

Billboards are now up across Illinois and neighboring states featuring Zhang and the black Saturn Astro she was getting into when she was last seen. 

Latest: 7:00 pm, 6/15/17, Thursday

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS (WCIA) -- A UI student has been missing for almost a week. Now the FBI is calling the case a kidnapping.

Visiting scholar Yingying Zhang was last seen Friday. Authorities say they're still getting tips. The FBI will be setting up digital billboards trying to spread the message.

A spokesperson for the bureau says they should be up starting Friday. Those will feature her picture and the car they're looking for.

Officials are now escalating their label of Yingying Zhang's case, after almost a week, from missing person to kidnapping.

They're putting up billboards and spreading posters to try to find Zhang. Zhang went missing June 9, after getting into a car seen in on surveillance video.

The Chinese Consulate General, in Chicago, is involved in this as well. It's helping Zhang's family get emergency U.S. visas. 

For more information, click here

Latest: 3:45 pm, 6/12/17, Monday

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS (WCIA) -- Police are asking for help finding a unique car which could hold clues to a UI student's disappearance.

Video surveillance shows 26-year old Yingying Zhang getting into a black Saturn Astra, four-door hatchback, on North Goodwin Avenue, after a brief discussion with the driver.

She hasn't been seen or heard from since. Police say the driver of vehicle could have information regarding Zhang's disappearance.

Saturn Astra's are somewhat rare because they were only made from 2008 - 2009. The license plate on the vehicle is not known.

Zhang is visiting from China and has only been in the United States for about a month. Zhang was last seen wearing a charcoal gray hat with a white logo on the front. 

Update: 12:00 pm, 6/12/17, Monday

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS -- UI Police have new video of a missing UI scholar.

Officials say 26-year old Yingying Zhang was last seen getting into a black Saturn Astra. on North Goodwin Avenue, Friday afternoon, just after 2 pm.

In the video, Zhang talks to the driver before getting in the car. Prior to that, Zhang was on an MTD bus and got off at Springfield and Mathews, in Urbana.

She was wearing a charcoal gray hat with a white logo on the front.

Police say attempts to contact her continue to be unsuccessful, including attempts with GPS. Anyone with information is asked to call police. 

Original: 10:00 pm, 6/11/17, Sunday

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS (WCIA) -- UI Police are still searching for a missing student. 26-year old Yingying Zhang disappeared Friday. She's a visiting scholar from China.  

Police say attempts to contact her continue to be unsuccessful, and they haven't been able to locate her using GPS. Chinese student groups are also looking for their missing classmate.

"We're doing what we can, using all of our resources, and people here to help out with this kind of stuff," said Robin Huang, of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association. "We really hope that we can make it faster, and we really hope the girl is safe."

Sunday, search parties mostly hit parks and wooded areas. They say they'll continue helping officers look. If you have any information, call 911 or University of Illinois Police. 


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