Brendt Christensen arrested, charged with Yingying Zhang’s death: Part 8

Initially, neither of Christensen’s parents believed he was responsible. He was arrested and federally charged with lying to the FBI and kidnapping resulting in death.
6:33 | 11/16/19

Coming up in the next {{countdown}} {{countdownlbl}}

Coming up next:



Skip to this video now

Now Playing:


Related Extras
Related Videos
Video Transcript
Transcript for Brendt Christensen arrested, charged with Yingying Zhang’s death: Part 8
Bum-pa-dum, bum-bum-bum-bum I remember getting home that night. I couldn't sleep. Close to midnight, my phone rings and it's my supervisor, and he goes, "Terra's here, we're listening to the recording and Christensen admits on the recording that he killed yingying." Nobody knows what happened. Nobody will know what happened. Except for me. I am the only one. Terra was very upset when she was with us at our office. On the day of the memorial walk, she was very frightened many times. She was very scared many times. Crying, just shaking. This really impacted her, the things that were said to her. They'll never find her. The family, you know, they are gonna leave empty-handed because no one will ever know where she is. With those admissions, we believed that we had enough evidence to now arrest him for kidnapping. We start tonight with breaking news. The FBI within the hour announcing charges against the man accused of kidnapping. News of the charges shocking to those who knew Christensen. Finding out brendt Christensen was a student made the situation a little more scary. He was going to class here, he was going to work here. I reached out to one of my friends, and I'm like, hey, did you see this? Can you believe that this is Brent? That's our T.A. This is a text you sent to one of the other students in the class? I'm saying, look at who the kidnapper was. Oh, my god. Isn't that insane? Brent was the kidnapper. I'm just absolutely blown away. I spent most of June 30th drafting a criminal complaint authorizing his arrest. Investigators believe the missing student yingying Zhang is dead. And knowing that I was the agent who wrote that really struck me because I had to then go and be with her family. So -- sorry. So when you first heard this name, brendt Christensen, what did you think at that moment? Christensen has no criminal history and has pleaded not guilty. Christensen is charged federally. One count of kidnapping resulting in death, two counts of lying to the FBI. While Christensen is in jail, he has multiple phone calls with his family, which are all recorded. He tells his mother Ellen he had nothing to do with yingying's disappearance. It's all circumstantial . I didn't do it. Yeah. I know. I'm just wondering what they're basing all this on. Everything will be okay in the end. I didn't do it. And the truth will come out in the end. But at the time Christensen's family just had no idea what was actually said on that recording at the vigil. You strongly believed that he was innocent when you first heard this news. Oh, yes. It was not the brendt you knew? Oh, no. Brendt couldn't have done that. That does not fall within his character at all. As we continue to move the case forward, the defense turns over to us this March 21st counseling video. He went to the university of Illinois counseling center to seek help for his marriage, and he talked with an intern counselor who interviewed him for about an hour and because she was an intern, she took a video of it. So then tell me a little bit about what brought you in today. Mostly my alcohol and drug abuse. It's been going on for years. He described himself as kind of lonely, in a way. In despair. I have probably had some form of depression ever since I was a teenager. I don't want to live anymore. That would be, I don't know how else to describe it. The only person I interact with outside of working is my wife. I don't have friends. My wife told me she wanted to separate from me on Sunday night. I just can't live without her. Christensen's wife is fed up with their relationship and wants a quote-unquote "Open marriage." Christensen meets terra Bullis, and then what happens next leads to a new direction for Christensen. She is into the fetish community, and she brings him into that fold. The agents learned from examining the defendant's phone that he was on this fetlife website, which is a website that individuals with various fetishes can get on and have various discussions. And so we see that he was on a group chat entitled abduction 101. And it revealed in there he was talking to a woman about something called a consensual abduction. And he described how he was going to take her, put her in a large duffel bag, duct tape her mouth. And then put her in the, either the backseat or the rear of his car. He actually was just visiting these sites just a few times overall. He contacted one other person and that was it. There are individuals, no doubt, who are on there who, for them, it was a fetish, a fantasy, but something they wouldn't act out. For brendt Christensen, the large duffel bag that he discussed on the website, he actually purchased. It was clear this was something he wanted to do. There's an avalanche of seemingly incriminating evidence against brendt Christensen. But he sticks to his guns. He maintains his innocence. I know what happened and I didn't do anything wrong. But at the Christensen's trial, the victim's family would hear something no parent should ever have to hear. It was unbelievable, like supernatural almost, how she just didn't give up. Yingying's father and brother, I kind of wished they would just take off their

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

{"duration":"6:33","description":"Initially, neither of Christensen’s parents believed he was responsible. He was arrested and federally charged with lying to the FBI and kidnapping resulting in death.","mediaType":"default","section":"ABCNews/2020","id":"67057862","title":"Brendt Christensen arrested, charged with Yingying Zhang’s death: Part 8","url":"/2020/video/brendt-christensen-arrested-charged-yingying-zhangs-death-part-67057862"}